Math in Medicine: Father of Modern Tomography (CT scan/computed tomography scan) – prof. Hugo D. Steinhaus

A CT scan or computed tomography scan (formerly known as a computed axial tomography or CAT scan) is a medical imaging technique that uses computer-processed combinations of multiple X-ray measurements taken from different angles to produce tomographic (cross-sectional) images (virtual “slices”) of a body, allowing the user to see inside the body noninvasively. The personnel that perform CT scans are called radiographers or radiologic technologists

As early as 1938, prof. Hugo D. Steinhaus developed a mathematical model and suggested a method for visualizing a piece of metalinside tissue registered to its real view even before the inven-tion of computers. This was the root of the principles of tomography operation, on which all modern devices CT scan are based today

I would like to mention that thanks to his works it was possible to apply mathematics also in other fields, including in research of work efficiency, production control of industrial products, in research on the proper placement of drilling shafts and methods of work automation, as well as in the construction of suspension bridges.

The CT scan method was based on the geometry ofthe setup and the registration and augmentation was guaranteedby construction. In 1968, Sutherland suggested a trackedhead-mounted display as a novel human-computer interface en-abling viewpoint-dependent visualization of virtual objects. Hisvisionary idea and first prototype were conceived at a time whencomputers were commonly controlled in batch mode rather thaninteractively. It was only two decades later that the advances incomputer technology allowed scientists to consider such tech-nological ideas within a real-world application. It is interestingto note that this also corresponds to the first implementation of amedical augmented reality system proposed by Robertset in 1986. They developed a system integrating segmented com-puted tomography (CT) images into the optics of an operatingmicroscope.

The 1979 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded jointly to South African American physicist Allan M. Cormack and British electrical engineer Godfrey N. Hounsfield “for the development of computer assisted tomography.


1. (PDF) Advanced Medical Displays: A Literature Review of Augmented Reality. Available from: [accessed Mar 30 2021].



March 30th, 2021