Alessandro Faedo

Alessandro Faedo

Professor Alessandro Faedo (1913 - 2000) was an outstanding personality in Italian science for many decades. He was a scholar in mathematical analysis: his most quoted contribution is the proposal and deep study of the so-called Faedo-Galerkin method of solution of partial differential equations. Appointed as Professor of Mathematical Analysis at the University of Pisa in the fifties, hence as successor of Leonida Tonelli, who had been his teacher, he set himself the task of recreating a great school of mathematics. As a Dean and later as a Rector he assured the appointment, as professors, of Andreotti, Barsotti, Bombieri, De Giorgi, Stampacchia and other great mathematicians still active in Pisa. He encouraged many other research initiatives always alert for the brightest ideas and the best scholars.

He was among the first people who realized, already in the fifties, the deep impact that computers were going to have on research, in fact in all walks of life. He promoted the creation of the Centro Studi Calcolatrici Elettroniche with physicists and engineers, who designed and built the first computer in Italian Universities. Later, when the demand for information processing became much more pressing, he founded, with the help of IBM, another center, CNUCE, addressed to respond to those needs. Never content with the obvious he supported computer-based research in all the then marginal or budding fields, from linguistics to medicine to space activities, to automation.

Against the criticism of many colleagues he convinced the Ministry of Education to set up at the University of Pisa a degree course in computer science, the first in Italy, and managed to call to Pisa many young researchers in the field, in fact a full group of them from Milan. Thus the difficult task of providing a vast array of new teaching activities was brilliantly successful.

As he became President of the Italian National Council of Research, he managed to assure to the many research groups in informatics the needed support, addressing their activities toward the emerging fields, notably satellite monitoring, satellite communications and computer networks. Elected Senator, he served two terms in the Italian Senate; he continued to provide, from that high position, all the support he could muster for the best people and most promising projects.

(Gianfranco Capriz)

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