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Biographies: Obituaries -- Gerald Salton Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129919D
Original Publication Date: 1996-Apr-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 3 page(s) / 18K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

IEEE Computer Society: OWNER


Biographies: Obituaries -- Gerald Salton

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Copyright ©; 1996 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Biographies: Obituaries -- Gerald Salton

Gerard Salton, professor of Computer Science at Cornell University and for years the preeminent figure in the field of automated document retrieval and question-answering systems, died of recently diagnosed lung cancer on August 28, 1995 in Ithaca, NY. He was 68.

Gerry was born in Nuremberg, Germany on March 8, 1927, the son of Rudolf and Elizabeth Sahitmann. He spent his youth in Germany, but World War II forced his family to flee. He recalled that in this flight he and his brother were led across a border late at night, including German guards. He came to this country in 1947, and attended Brooklyn College where he received a B.A. (1950) and an M.A. (1952) in mathematics. While at college he married May Birnbaum in 1950 and became a U.S. citizen in 1952.

In that year he was accepted as a graduate student by Howard Aiken, then the only professor covering the computer area at Harvard. He was the last of Aiken's 16 post-war PhD students, receiving his degree in January 1958. He continued at Harvard, first as an instructor (1958- 1960) and then as an assistant professor (1960-1965).

He later published a fond appreciation of Aiken and his experiences with him ("Howard Aiken's Children: The Harvard Computation Laboratory and its Students," Abacus, vol. no. 3, Spring, 1984. Springer-Verlag. In 1962 he was a Guggenheim Fellow.

At the Harvard Computation Laboratory, Gerry was one of the first programmers for the Harvard Mark IV computer and became interested in natural-language processing, especially information retrieval. This interest led in the 1960s to what he developed into his main research tool, the SMART information retrieval system. Whatever the true origin of thc acronym thc system has always been known as "Salton's Magical Automatic Retriever of Text."

   (Image Omitted: Gerard Salton Born: March 8, 1927, Nurnberg, Germany Died: August 28, 1995, Ithaca, NY. Leading figure in the field of automatic text retrieval and creator of the SMART system. Education: BA, 1950; MA, 1952; Brooklyn College: PhD, 1958; Harvard University Academic Career: Instructor, 1958-1960, Assistant Professor, 1960- 1965, Harvard University; Professor of Computer Science, 1965-1995, Cornell University. Honors and Awards: Guggenheim Fellow 1962, ACM SIGIR Award for Outstanding Contributions in 1983, Alexander Humboldt Senior Scientist Award 1988, Computing Reviews Best Review 1988, ASIS Award of

Merit 1989, ACM Fellow 1995)

From Harvard he went to Cornell in 1965 as one of the founders of its Computer Science Department where he continued for 30 years.

In 1966 the National Academy of Sciences report, "Languages and Machines, Computers in Translation and Linguistics," was taken as a condemnation of the excessive promises of computer tr...