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记忆与未来:纪念David Waltz教授 精选

已有 25829 次阅读 2012-8-8 14:34 |个人分类:往事如云|系统分类:人物纪事|关键词:记忆,教授| 记忆, 教授





Memory and Future

 

Fei-Yue Wang

SKL-MCCS, Chinese Academy of Sciences

 

In Memory of Dave Waltz

 

First of all, on the behalf of our editorial board and advisory committee, I would like to take this opportunity to express our deepest condolences for the passing of Professor David L. Waltz, a member of our advisory committee and a long time friend and supporter to many of us at the IEEE Intelligent Systems, who died on March 22, 2012 (for details, check,  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/24/science/david-l-waltz-computer-science-pioneer-dies-at-68.html?_r=3&ref=todayspaper, http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~waltz/, or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Waltz).

 

Figure: Dave Waltz (Second from the Right) at 2006 Editorial Meeting of IEEE Intelligent Systems (From Jim Hendler).

 

      Many of us in this community viewed Dave as a special friend and mentor: “Dave was a huge help to me when I was editor. He was a mentoring and creative force for me at that time. He was quite a guy”, “I still recall how Dave's very early work on constraint-based reasoning for scene interpretation was an inspiration to me to pursue graduate work in AI”, “Dave served as a wise soul and mentor for many in the community”, “A great researcher, mentor, a fantastic Board Member and a special human being”, “David was a tall man in every sense of the word. We are thankful for his presence and influence among us”, “Dave was a class act, always positive, always supportive, always constructive”, “It was like he was a hidden hub in the AI/CS social network”, “he had contributed significantly to our magazine”, ……, those were some of words pouring to me from our board members as the news of Dave’s death spreads.

 

To me, Dave was a wonderful man, a pioneer and mentor. Professionally, I want to thank him for his contributions to AI/CS, and his steady, continued support of our magazine, first on the Editorial Board and later on the Advisory Committee. I have the utmost respect for him and his amazing thoughts and inspirations. Personally, Dave was always kind and supportive to my own studies and investigations, offering many words of advice over the years. Recently, I realized that last fall, while he was seriously ill, Dave took the time to pen a letter of support for me. Yes, he was a rare and generous man.

 

To express our sincerest appreciation for Dave’s significant contribution to our magazine and the field of AI and intelligent systems, the IEEE Intelligent Systems will publish an In Memoriam of Dave Waltz. If you are interested to contribute to the In Memoriam, please contact me at feiyue@ieee.org before June 15, 2012.

 

Call for AI’s Top 10 to Watch, 2012

 

The IEEE Intelligent Systems is now looking for the nomination of the 2012 class of “TOP 10 to Watch” for young AI researchers. Candidates must have received their PhD within the last five years (January 2007 or later). To nominate someone, please send a pointer to their Web page, a short description of their work and qualifications (at most two paragraphs), and a list of up to 10 major publications or achievements to me at feiyue@ieee.org by 1 August 2010 (put “10 to Watch” in the subject line). For information on Class 2010, check: http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-2374-415676.html.

 

Call for IS Hall of Fame, 2012

 

The IEEE Intelligent Systems Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to honor those who have made significant contributions to our field. The inaugural induction was a huge success and 10 trailblazers were enlisted for their notable influence on AI and intelligent systems in Class 2011.  Especially, I would like to congratulate our inductee Prof. Judea Pearl for winning the 2011 ACM A. M. Turning Award this year for his developments in probabilistic and causal reasoning and their application.

 

To nominate someone, please send a one-page bio-sketch and curriculum vitae to me at feiyue@ieee.org by 1 August (put “Hall of Fame” in the subject line). For information on the Inaugural Class, check: http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-2374-482858.html.

 

I have received a few emails of good will for my health since my first letter this year, I am fully recovered and many thanks to you all. As for my letter on piecemeal engineering and twitter technology, I am still working on it. Hope to share my thought on concepts of computational societies and computational dialectics (or computational dialectical methods) soon.

 

 

David Waltz, In Memoriam

 

Fei-Yue Wang

The State Key Laboratory of Management and Control for Complex Systems, Beijing, China

 

In my May letter, we expressed our condolences and great sadness for the passing of Professor David L. Waltz, a member of our advisory board and a great friend and long time supporter to many of us here at IEEE Intelligent Systems.

 

It is difficult to summarize the achievements of his long career, of which there were so many; Dr. Waltz was a brilliant scientist, a pioneer in computer sciences and artificial intelligence, and an inspiration to many others. He began at MIT, completing all of his degrees there in Electronic Engineering. Already, his work was impactful, Dr. Waltz’s Ph.D. dissertation thesis on computer vision, "Generating Semantic Descriptions from Drawings of Scenes with Shadows", originated the field of constraint propagation, which made it possible for computer programs to generate detailed three-dimensional images from two-dimensional drawings with shadows. 

 

After serving as a graduate research assistant, Dr. Waltz began his career as a teacher; in 1973 he became a professor, teaching Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and later teaching Computer Science at Brandeis University. But it was at the Thinking Machines Corporation where he achieved a second breakthrough in the field. In 1984 the supercomputer was just beginning to realize the full processing power of machine thinking and TMC was one of the first companies to employ fast working, massive amounts of random-access memory (RAM). There, while serving as the Director of Advanced Information Systems, Dr. Waltz created the original field of memory-based reasoning. It was a creation that revolutionized Artificial Intelligence, and led to the technical foundation for the success of Google today.

 

His most recent research interests while at Colombia University was in the application of machine learning, in particular to electric power grids, an emerging field that will revolutionize our world again in the near future.

 

His professional career and research is no less impactful, and looking over his experiences there is an impressive amount of accolades, advisory board memberships, research endeavors, professorships and distinguished honors. The look is an overwhelming one.

 

I first met Dave at our 2006 Editorial Meeting in Boston. Since then he has offered many words of advice and was always kind and supportive to my research and editorial work. I cannot forget that last August, while he was seriously ill, Dave took the time to write a letter of support for me. Yes, he was really a generous and wonderful man.

 

I thought the best way to remember him would be to hear from those he affected. So, in celebration of Professor David L. Waltz’s life I have collected a few words from some of members from the IS family who were kind enough to share some memories of Dr. Waltz—David— both big and small.

 

Jim Hendler (Editor-in-Chief, 2005-2008):

 

There is a saying that “It takes a village to raise a child,” and it is probably true.  It is also true that it takes a “village,” in the sense of many mentors and guides, to raise a scientist.  David Waltz was one of the most important people in my personal village.

 

Dave was one of the kindest and most gentle people it was ever my pleasure to meet.  From the first time we started working together he was always able to provide critical advice without making it hurt, and in a way that was truly constructive.  My thesis work was better for his participation in my committee.  He helped me learn to go from rejections to acceptances, first on conferences and then later journals, by small but crucial suggestions as to how my work was best performed.  And when I eventually became the Editor in Chief of this publication, Dave was one of my most valued advisors.  He was one of the judges of our first “AI’s Top Ten” awards, volunteering his time because he was always interested in AI’s up and coming young scientists.

Some of my last interactions with Dave were spent with him trying to explain a very subtle point about machine learning work to me.  I won’t reprise the issue here, but it related not to ML itself, but what it had to say to, essentially, the philosophy of what a theory in science was.  It took several discussions, and some outside reading before I realized what a correct, and profound, point he was making, and by then it was too late.

 

I truly appreciated the gentle mentoring, the powerful advice, and the thought-provoking discussions he and I shared.  He was one of a kind, and I will miss him more than I can say.

 

Nigel Shadbolt (Editor-in-Chief, 2001-2004):

 

The first book on AI that I read was “The Psychology of Computer Vision” – and it was the chapter by Dave on “Understanding Line Drawings of Scenes with Shadows” that made me realize how powerful AI could be. Here was a method that showed how systematic machine based inferences could work out what objects and interrelationships existed in a visual scene. What was really elegant was the way in which constraints - rules that effectively ruled out some interpretations or supported others - where represented and managed. His work not only influenced a generation of machine vision researchers it laid the foundations for constraint based programming. His interests ranged widely and he always thought deeply about the opportunities offered by both advancing technology and our understanding of human cognition. I recall a great conversation one evening when we had invited him to speak at a UK Expert Systems conference in London – it was around the opportunities offered by the connection machine – a highly parallel architecture programmed in LISP. Dave was looking at how it could be used in natural language processing. This was cutting edge AI on cutting edge hardware – Dave had a great sense of where the leading edge of the subject was at any moment in time. Many of his publications show this rare ability to provide overviews packed with insight of the key ideas and trends in AI – from data mining to parallelism, relevance ranking to natural language processing.

 

When I took over as EIC at IEEE Intelligent Systems it was this overview of the subject that was so valuable. Dave’s knowledge and network was second to none. His suggestions helped shape the Board and magazine content. He valued deep theoretical insights but always sought a practical implementation of them. He absolutely believed that the best test of an elegant formulation was an encounter with a difficult real world problem. He most recent work on machine learning methods applied to power blackouts and energy grid management is a great example of this philosophy. At editorial meetings he was always a constructive and wise counsel – and he was always there. In truth I can’t remember an Editorial meeting that he didn’t attend, and the best of it was I got to buy him dinner – and that’s when we were privileged to hear the history first hand or else Dave’s reflections on where the field was heading.

 

Everyone who knew Dave will attest to his kind and thoughtful nature. You always had the sense you were in the presence of a thoroughly decent human being – someone who had made a real difference to our subject. He was the best kind of friend, colleague and example.

 

Daniel E. O'Leary (Editor-in-Chief, 1997-2000):

 

I came to know Dave Waltz as an editorial creative force in artificial intelligence while we          served on the Editorial Board of IEE Intelligent Systems. We had yearly editorial board          meetings to look ahead and determine which topics we should pursue as special          issues.  There was a high level of energy in those meetings as the group would propose and analyze many potential topics, and Dave was a key catalyst for new ideas in those sessions.   Dave had a unique sense about what would be important, how it would be important and what would be the best approach to getting coverage on the topic. He understood both the          theoretical basis and potential emerging applications, and he knew who had unique insights in pursuit of those topics. 

 

Dave also was a quality filter for the special issue topics. In our meetings, we would come up          with many potential ideas, so we also needed to prune out those that were not ready or          those that did not fit. From my perspective, a topic had to pass the “Waltz” interest test before it could be considered as a legitimate special issue topic.  

 

Over the years, I had other opportunities to talk with Dave.  When I had critical professional issues to discuss, I went straight to Dave. He would take the time to discuss the issue        and provide potential solutions. Dave Waltz was a creative force in artificial intelligence, but he also was stabilizing force that supported those around him.  He will be greatly missed.

 

Se June Hong (Member of the Editorial Board):

 

During the 1974-75 academic year, I was visiting ECE department of the University of Illinois from IBM in a "remote assignment" (sabbatical)   when I had the fortune of befriending a few beginning faculty members.  One was David Waltz of the CS department.  During the early eighties, my own work moved to AI area, although not in David's line of work.  Also, I started visiting the CS and ECE departments in Urbana annually as one of the IBM's Ph.D. recruiters.  I would see him there at least once a year until he left Illinois. David was always enthusiastic about his students' work.  This enthusiasm about technical progress, whether it was his own or someone else's, was part of David all the time I knew him.  While David was with the Thinking Machines Inc., we invited him to IBM Research for a talk on memory based reasoning.  His excitement about the new ways to make use of a massive and parallel memory and machine in his talk is still vivid in my memory.  This happened to be one of many of his own pioneering work.

 

Hundreds of colleagues have served under, or alongside David in countless professional tasks.  I am sure all will agree that he has been always attentive, thoughtful, and kind in his deeds and comments.  This was true whether he was the president of the organization or just a member of the board or a committee.  When he led, he led with consensus, and when others led, he seriously participated and kept with the decisions.  David Waltz personified the adage: "A good leader is also a good follower."  David was a tall man in every sense of the word.  We are thankful for his presence and influence among us.  We thank his loving family for sharing him with us.  We will fondly remember our friend David, his work, his enthusiasm and his generosity. 

 

Richard Doyle (Member of the Advisory Board):

 

Although I was not privileged to have David Waltz as an advisor or a close research collaborator, he did play a specific inspirational role in initiating my graduate student career at MIT.  I had been quite taken with David's work on constraint propagation in scene interpretation.  I had done some simple extensions of that work using the SOMA cube as a domain, which was a popular puzzle at the time.  My work applied similar constraint-based reasoning to the challenge of interpreting which of the seven unique SOMA pieces could be involved in seamlessly constructing a particular scene.  I don't recall all the details now, but the punch line was the same, that constraint propagation can be surprisingly powerful to drill down to unique interpretations.

 

I recall proudly bringing this work with me to a welcome event for new MIT graduate students and I was able to engage a few of the faculty, who of course knew David's work well.  I was told later that I had made an impression.  Many years after that, when I was lucky to have caught up with David over dinner with one of his former students, many of whom remained his lifelong friends, I was able to thank him properly for his inspiration and for the role he had played at the very beginning of my career in AI.

 



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