August 09, 2002

Touring Machine

To be honest, this is a shameless posting to indicate that my blog has not suffered the same fate as the subject of this writeup.

Edsger W. Dijkstra is dead. Of cancer. 'Who is he?', you say. Well, I would say he's arguably the father of modern computer systems theory and the father of programming. Ok, maybe the brother or cousin if not the father, but you get the idea. There cannot be a computer scientist who does not know Edsger. According to an obituary on, he has published "some 1300 papers", a few of which I have actually read (and even fewer understood :-). He has several algorithms or techniques named after him, and has propounded some of the most fundamental ideas in operating systems, multi-programming, etc.

I had the good fortune of attending the school he taught in; this gave me opportunities to listen to some of his talks. He was eccentric, of course, but a very articulate speaker. And when he spoke, people always listened. I remember the time he rode on a speaker from the University of Arizona for using multiple colors for words on his slides without any clear semantic differentiation -- pretty hilarious.

One can only hope that his tribe will increase.

Anyway, if you're wondering about the title of this blog, here's another excerpt from the article:

Dijkstra and his wife also enjoyed exploring U.S. state and national parks in their Volkswagen camper van, called the Touring Machine.

Trust Djisktra to come up with that one.

Posted by beemboy at August 9, 2002 07:00 PM
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