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Prof. Richard Crandall

Richard E. Crandall (December 29, 1947 – December 20, 2012) was an American physicist and computer scientist who made contributions to computational number theory at Reed College and Apple Inc.

Early life and education[]

Crandall was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and spent two years at the California Institute of Technology before transferring to Reed College in Portland, Oregon, where he graduated in physics and wrote his undergraduate thesis on randomness.[1] Crandall earned a Ph.D in theoretical physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973 and liked to call himself a "computationalist", for though he was trained in physics, computation was at the center of his life.[1][2]


Richard Crandall Bill Gates 1984

Crandall with Bill Gates in 1984

In 1978, Crandall became a physics professor at Reed College, where he taught courses in experimental physics and computational physics for many years, ultimately becoming Vollum Professor of Science and director of the Center for Advanced Computation.[3]

NeXT and Apple[]

Richard Crandall Steve Jobs Reed 1991

Crandall with Steve Jobs in 1991

Crandall was a pioneer in experimental mathematics, and was associated for many years with Steve Jobs as chief scientist at NeXT, and as chief cryptographer and distinguished scientist at Apple, where he was head of the Advanced Computation Group. Crandall was proud of having invented at least five algorithms used in the iPhone.[2] He developed the irrational base discrete weighted transform, a method of finding very large primes. He wrote several books and many scholarly papers on scientific programming and computation.

Crandall was awarded numerous patents for his work in the field of cryptography and wrote a poker program that could bluff. He also owned and operated PSI Press, an online publishing company.

Personal life[]

Crandall was part Cherokee and proud of his Native heritage.[1] He fronted a band called the Chameleons in 1981.[4] He was working on an intellectual biography of Steve Jobs when he collapsed at his home in Portland, Oregon, from acute leukemia. He died 10 days later, on December 20, 2012, at the age of 64.[5]


  • Pascal Applications for the Sciences. John Wiley & Sons, New York 1983.
  • with M. M. Colgrove: Scientific Programming with Macintosh Pascal. John Wiley & Sons, New York 1986.
  • Mathematica for the Sciences, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass, 1991.
  • Projects in Scientific Computation. Springer 1994.
  • Topics in Advanced Scientific Computation. Springer 1996.
  • with M. Levich: A Network Orange. Springer 1997.
  • with C. Pomerance: Prime numbers: A Computational Perspective. Springer 2001.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Lydgate, Chris (2013-03). Mathematical physicist hunted giant prime numbers. Prof. Richard E. Crandall '69 (en-us). Reed Magazine. Retrieved on 2019-06-20.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wolfram, Stephen. "Idea Makers: Personal Perspectives on the Lives & Ideas of Some Notable People", Wolfram Media, Inc., p. 161. 
  3. Weege, Tez. "Scientists Envision Applications for Pi In Encrypted Internet Transactions", The Daily Californian, August 10, 2001. 
  4. Foggin, Mik. "The Chameleons (UK) Frequently Asked Questions (note by Damian Ramsay)", The Chameleons, October 13, 2005. 
  5. Lydgate, Chris. "Prof. Richard Crandall dead at 64", Reed Magazine, December 20, 2012. 

External links[]


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