Out of Their Minds

I love the title of Dennis Shasha & Cathy Lazere’s book, Out of ther Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists. I love it so much I can barely contain myself.

In fact, meeting Dennis in New York was completely, absolutely and fantastically special and  inspiring.  There’s more coming about this!  Eventually! AND Amazon brought the book to my front door today.  Lucky me!

And for some reason I’ve felt compelled to argue with Dennis!

WHAT was I thinking???

Which is, in fact, the thought I fell asleep with last night.

I’m trying to make the case that Ken Iverson’s affiliation with economist Wassily Leontief as his graduate student at Havard must have shaped his approach to array language design.  Leontief was the first “non-scientist” faculty member at Harvard to work with Howard Aiken and use Mark I.  Aiken & Leontief co-chaired Ken’s dissertation.  Since Leonteif’s work in

… economic analysis consists of constructing huge two-dimensional tables showing what each industry receives from and what it sells to every other industry.

– Cohen, I. Bernard Howard Aiken: Portrait of a Computer Pioneer, p. 205

In my mind, there must be a connection…

So, what is it?  I guess it’s time to go read that dissertation.

On a more personal note, it’s my father’s last night in his city home.  He’s off to his new farm on Manitoulin Island, Ontario tomorrow.  It’s far away and frigg’n cold up there, so, honestly, I don’t really get his urge to move. It’s those Albertan farm roots calling.  That’s for sure.  A history my family shares with the Iversons.

Thank You IBM for bringing me to the big city!  Not that I… hem…  have anything against Western Canada.

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1 Response to “Out of Their Minds”


  • Catherine: I was rummaging around in the Dr. Dobbs website today, and found a reference to a book on the developers of various languages. It includes something with Adin Falkoff on APL.

    See: http://www.ddj.com/architect/216900171

    Masterminds of Programming: Conversations with Creators of Major Programming Languages
    edited by Federico Biancuzzi and Shane Warden
    This book is a collection of exclusive interviews with the creators of many historic and highly influential programming languages. Among those inlcuded are:

    # Adin D. Falkoff: APL
    # Thomas E. Kurtz: BASIC
    # Robin Milner: ML
    # Donald D. Chamberlin: SQL
    # Alfred Aho, Peter Weinberger, and Brian Kernighan: AWK
    …etc…

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