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Thaddeus Vincenty
Born (1920-10-27)27 October 1920
Grodzisko, Lwów Voivodship, Poland
Died 6 March 2002(2002-03-06) (aged 81)
Washington Grove, Maryland, USA
Place of burial Parklawn Memorial Park
Nationality Polish
Other names Tadeusz Szpila
Citizenship American
Known for Vincenty's formulae

Thaddeus Vincenty (born Tadeusz Szpila; 27 October 1920 – 6 March 2002) was a Polish American geodesist who worked with the U.S. Air Force and later the National Geodetic Survey to adapt three-dimensional adjustment techniques to NAD 83.[1] He devised Vincenty's formulae, a geodesic calculation technique published in 1975 which is accurate to about half a millimeter.[2][3]

Vincenty's studies were interrupted by World War II, and he eventually arrived in a displaced persons camp. He arrived in the United States in 1947, and took his father's first name as his surname. Within months, he enlisted in the Air Force, and only became involved in computer programming and surveying in 1957. After studying via correspondence courses, he published his first research paper in 1963. After 30 years in the Air Force, he left Cheyenne, Wyoming, and took a position at National Geodetic Survey.

His contributions to the NAD 83 include the introduction of three dimensional Earth-centered coordinates, which unifies locations on Earth with locations in space, an essential development for the Global Positioning System.

Vincenty received the Department of Commerce Medal for Meritorious Service in 1982.[4] He and his wife Barbara had one daughter, two sons, and three grandchildren at the time of his death.[1]

See also

  • Geodesy
  • Geodesic
  • Earth radius
  • Vincenty's formulae


  1. 1.0 1.1 Chovitz, B. (2002). "IAG Newsletter: Thaddeus Vincenty, in memoriam". pp. 394–398. Bibcode 2002JGeod..76..394A. Digital object identifier:10.1007/s00190-002-0263-8. 
  2. Vincenty formula for distance between two Latitude/Longitude points,, retrieved 29 December 2006
  3. Direct and Inverse Solutions of Geodesics on the Ellipsoid with application of nested equations (pdf), Survey Review, April 1975
  4. Department of Commerce Medal recipients, 1980-1991, retrieved 29 December 2006
  • Excel Add-in by Tomasz Jastrzębski - complete Vincenty's direct and inverse formulae implementation with source code.

External links

, Pages 37–43, Journal of Geodesy, Volume 54, Number 1 (March, 1980).

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