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Dr. Robert C. Ward

Photo of Dr. Robert C. Ward

Contact Information

Web: Homepage
Mailing Address:
Min H. Kao Building, Room 307
1520 Middle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-2250
Office Phone: 865-974-4389
Office Fax: 865-974-5483

Areas of Interest

  • Scientific computing
  • Parallel algorithms
  • Matrix computations
  • Computational science and engineering
  • Mathematical software


  • PhD in Applied Mathematics, University of Virginia, 1974
  • MS in Mathematics, College of William and Mary, 1969
  • BS in Mathematics, Tennessee Technological University, 1966


Bob Ward is a native Tennessean, born and raised in Sparta – a small town in Middle Tennessee. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Tennessee Technological University, his master’s degree in mathematics from the College of William and Mary, and his doctorate in applied mathematics from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Ward’s career started at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where he spent 8 years as a computational mathematician developing software for eigensystem analyses, applying tools for time series analyses, and consulting on mathematical and programming problems. He then moved back to Tennessee and worked over 20 years for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory as a researcher and manager.

His research accomplishments during this time included the development of the Combination Shift QZ Algorithm, which was selected for inclusion in the international distributed EISPACK software package, the development of one of the most accurate and still most commonly used algorithms for computing the matrix exponential, and the development of algorithms for computing the solution to many diverse matrix problems such as linear dependency analysis of multivariate data and skew-symmetric eigenproblems.

As a manager, Dr. Ward managed an aggressive research program at ORNL to develop basic algorithms for parallel computers characterizing their performance and transferring this knowledge to computational scientists at ORNL and affiliated universities. He led computer-related research activities at ORNL from a budget of $700K in FY82 to over $15M in FY94. He held numerous management positions including Director of the Engineering Physics and Mathematics Division and Acting Director of the Center for Computational Sciences.

In 1995 Dr. Ward left ORNL to become Professor and Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Tennessee. During his 8 years as Head, the department became one of the most productive departments on campus with its position of first per faculty capital among science departments in number of B.Sc. and M.Sc. graduates and in sponsored research funding. Among his research accomplishments was the co-development of the Block Divide-and-Conquer algorithm for computing eigensystems of large matrices.

His major professional activities include Chair of numerous international meetings and organizations such as a SIAM National Meeting and the SIAM Activity Group on Linear Algebra and serving on conference committees such as the Program Committee and Tutorials Committee for the Supercomputing ‘XY series of conferences. He has been elected as Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, elected to Kappa Mu Epsilon and Tau Beta Pi Honor Societies, and selected to the All-Ohio Valley Conference Academic Basketball Team while at TTU.

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