Norbert Weiner, eminent professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), wrote an elegant but difficult treatise (probably “Generalized harmonic analysis” published in Acta Mathematica in 1930) that was the source of many doctoral theses in the 1940s-50s by his graduate students. The treatise was dubbed “the yellow peril” because it was first conceived on yellow foolscap and its complexity made approaching it like deciphering hieroglyphics. But after Claude Shannon and Norman Levinson developed heuristic simplifications of the material, a burgeoning number of PhDs followed, leading to the formation of the Geophysical Analysis Group (GAG) at MIT.

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