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Herbert A. Hauptman

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Herbert Hauptman
Hebert A. Hauptman in 2009
BornHerbert Aaron Hauptman
(1917-02-14)February 14, 1917
New York City, New York
DiedOctober 23, 2011(2011-10-23) (aged 94)
Buffalo, New York[1]
Physical chemistry
InstitutionsHauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute & University at Buffalo
Alma materUniversity of Maryland, College Park
Notable awardsNobel Prize in Chemistry (1985) (jointly with Jerome Karle)

Herbert Aaron Hauptman (February 14, 1917 – October 23, 2011) was an American mathematician. He won a Nobel Prize.[2] He made a mathematical method to find a molecular structures based on the X-ray patterns of crystallized materials. With Jerome Karle, he won the 1985 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.[3]


He was born in New York City. He was the oldest child of Israel Hauptman and Leah Rosenfeld, and of Jewish descent.

Hauptman was interested in science and mathematics from an early age. He studied at Townsend Harris High School. He graduated from the City College of New York (1937). He earned an M.A. degree in mathematics from Columbia University in 1939. He married Edith Citrynell on November 10, 1940, and had two daughters.

After World War II, he began working together with Jerome Karle, a physical chemist, at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.. He also enrolled in the Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland, College Park. They used their mathematics and physical chemistry skills to solve the phase problem of X-ray crystallography. By 1955, he had received his Ph.D. in mathematics, and they had worked out the direct methods in X-ray crystallography. Their 1953 article, "Solution of the Phase Problem I. The Centrosymmetric Crystal", contained the main ideas, the most important of which was the introduction of probabilistic methods.

In 1970 he joined the Medical Foundation of Buffalo, becoming its Research Director in 1972. At this time he developed the neighborhood principle and extension concept. These theories were further developed during the following years.

Hauptman who was an atheist, signed with 21 other Nobel laureates the Humanist Manifesto in 2003.


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