Tuesday, March 03, 2009

In Memoriam: Jack Schwartz

I was very sorry to read the following email today.  Jack Schwartz was an inspiring teacher and scientist.  I recall his computational logic course as one of my favorite, and had many interesting conversations with him about his SETL formalization of the Cauchy integral theorem in his own theorem prover.  I was learning HOL-Light at the time, and the contrasts were striking.  I recall being at a lunch with Schwartz, Tom Hales and John Harrison at a Burmese restaurant in Greenwich Village where the topic of conversation turned to formalizing mathematics.  What struck me about him was his youthful eagerness and enthusiasm about the project.  And it was only one of many such projects he was interested in when I knew him.  I hope to be so thoughtful and vibrant at half his age.

    Dear members of the CIMS community,

    It is with sadness that I write to let you
    know that Jack Schwartz passed away in his
    sleep early this morning. He was 79 years old.
    As many of you know, Jack was the founding
    chair of the computer science department and
    the central player in setting the computer
    science research agenda here in the decades
    before and after the department's founding;
    this included seminal work in compilers,
    programming languages, parallel computing,
    robotics, bioinformatics, and multimedia.
    Most of the large-scale research efforts of
    the last forty years in the computer science
    department owe their initial impulse to his
    vision, his tireless energy, and his
    omnivorous scientific curiosity.

    Jack came to Computer Science after a
    distinguished career as a mathematician, the
    junior author of the three-volume "Linear
    Operators" and of numerous books on pure and
    applied mathematics, ranging from C* algebras
    to mathematical economics.  He was an
    inspiring teacher (who at one time or another
    taught pretty much every course in the
    computer science curriculum) and was the
    advisor for more than 50 Ph.D. theses.

    He was a generous friend and an inspiration to
    many of us.

    The Courant Institute will be holding a
    memorial in the next few weeks, to honor his
    life and achievements. We will send a more
    detailed announcement when we have more



    Richard Cole Deputy Director Courant
    Institute, NYU

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