Spline functions are polynomials that are cut into pieces with care. Although spline functions date back to work of Euler and Bernoulli, it was Iso Schoenberg who began to study them in earnest. In late 60s, Carl de Boor embarked on an ambitious program to develop a mathematical foundation for spline functions that would be friendly to computation. The cornerstone of this development was his work on Schoenberg's B-splines: splines with minimal support. It became clear that spline functions can provide efficient representations of functions, curves, surfaces and digital data. Today, spline functions are widely used in areas such as automotive design, computer added geometry design, imaging science and data science.
De Boor’s contributions to splines, to approximation theory, to scientific computing, to mathematics, and to science have not gone unnoticed. In addition to the 2003 National Medal of Science he received in 2005, he has been elected to numerous academic societies in the U.S. and in Europe, including the U.S. National Academies of Sciences and of Engineering.
At the occasion of Carl de Boor’s 80th birthday, a group of mathematicians from many generations who have worked on splines and applications will gather together to review the glorious history of the development of spline functions and to look into future directions and applications of spline functions.