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Allan Cormack was a physicist who contributed to mathematics by his pioneering research in the field of

Allan Cormack was of Scottish descent and was born in South Africa. In his youth, he took interest in astronomy. Later, he wrote: "I learnt that a knowledge of mathematics and physics was essential to the pursuit of astronomy. This increased my fondness for those subjects."

Cormack studied Electrical Engineering, Physics and Crystallography. In 1956, he started to work in the United States and became a professor at Tufts University. His primary research field was fundamental particle physics. His work in CT began as a mere side line to his main scientific interests.

In contrast to classical X-ray techniques, the CT-generated cross section images are computed mathematically. This is done by applying the Radon transform - named after the Austrian mathematician Johann Radon. The tricky task with this transform is computing its inverse (the backward transform). In most applications, the inversion has to be performed by a computer. From 1963 on, Allan Cormack published fundamental mathematical papers dealing with the Radon transform inversion problem.

In 1979, Allan Cormack earned the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. He shared the prize with Godfrey Hounsfield who had built the first prototype of a computer tomograph.

Cormack's name can be traced in mathematical literature by the notion of

Published 2017-05-01 last update 2017-03-05

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