Research Areas


William "Velvel" Kahan was born in Canada and attended the University of Toronto for both his undergraduate and graduate studies in mathematics, and was eventually hired there as a professor. He joined the Berkeley faculty in 1968 with a joint appointment in the Math Department and as a member of the new Computer Science Department in the College of Letters and Science--before it merged with the EECS Department in the College of Engineering in 1973. He retired from the University in 2008. Kahan was instrumental in creating the IEEE 754-1985 standard for floating-point computation in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He developed a program called "paranoia' in the 1980s to test for potential floating point bugs and developed the Kaham summation algorithm which helps minimize errors introduced when adding a sequences of finite precision floating point numbers. Kahan won the ACM A.M. Turing Award in 1989.


  • 1958, Ph.D., Mathematics, University of Toronto
  • 1956, Master's, Mathematics, University of Toronto
  • 1954, B.A., Mathematics, University of Toronto

Selected Publications

Awards, Memberships and Fellowships