It is interesting to note that while FDTD is based on Maxwell’s equations which describe the behavior and effect of electromagnetism, the term “FDTD” itself was coined to describe the algorithm developed by Kane S. Yee in computational electromagnetism. Maxwell’s equations were based on the work of James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish mathematician who published its initial form in 1861. Yee, born in China but acquired PhD Applied Mathematics from the University of California in Berkely, described his algorithm in 1966.
Prior to the Yee algorithm, FDTD had been used to solve problems in computational fluid dynamics. In Yee’s work, he suggested a novel way of applying FDTD operators on staggered grids for each of the vector field components in Maxwell’s equations. However, the term finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) itself was coined in by a professor Allen Taflove from the Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering located in Illinois. He had published a paper on the August 1980 IEEE Trans. Electromagnetic Compatibility issue entitled “Application of the finite-difference time-domain method to sinusoidal steady-state electromagnetic penetration problems.”
It was only in 1990 that FDTD techniques became popular in dealing with problems concerning interactions of electromagnetic waves, mostly because of the rise of wireless communication devices, but it is also used to model applications in the fields of geophysics and biomedical imaging and the convenience of computers equipped with fast processors and large memories. There are numerous developers for FDTD application software, including at least 27 which are proprietary, 8 which are open access, and two freeware.