During his career as a teacher and a technologist at start-up companies as well as large corporate laboratories, Dr. Waltz made fundamental contributions to computer science in areas ranging from computer vision to machine learning.
One signal achievement was the development of a basic technique that makes it possible for computers to render three-dimensional scenes accurately. As part of his Ph.D. dissertation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he developed an algorithm that could extract a rich three-dimensional understanding of a scene from two-dimensional line drawings with shadows.
The 3-D research was seminal in the fields of computer vision and artificial intelligence. Known as “constraint propagation,” the technique is now used in industry for solving problems like route scheduling, package routing and construction scheduling.
David L. Waltz, director of the Center for Computational Learning Systems (CCLS) at Columbia Engineering and prominent computer scientist, passed away March 22 at a hospital in Princeton, N.J. He was 68.
joined Columbia in 2003 as director of CCLS, an interdisciplinary research center established to focus on leading-edge machine learning and data mining research.
CCLS colleague Roger Anderson, a senior research scholar, said he is “terribly saddened for Dave's passing, and proud to have served under his vision, integrity and strength of leadership."
Waltz received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his thesis on computer vision originated the field of constraint propagation. According to the story, Early Warning for Seizures
, in the Fall 2009 issue of Columbia Engineering Magazine
, he is also well known as the originator, along with former colleague Craig Stanfill, of the memory-based reasoning branch of Case-Based Reasoning.
Prior to joining Columbia, Waltz was president of the NEC Research Institute in Princeton, and from 1984-1993 served as Director of Advanced Information Systems at Thinking Machines Corporation and a professor of computer science at Brandeis University. He had also been professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois (CSL and ECE Department) for 11 years. Waltz served as president of AAAI (American Association for Artificial Intelligence) from 1997-1999, and was a Fellow of AAAI and ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), a senior member of IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers), and former chairman of ACM SIGART (Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence).
Waltz served on several boards, including the Army Research Lab Technical Advisory Board and the Advisory Board of the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition, the Technical Advisory Board of 4C (Cork Constraint Computation Center, Ireland), and more recently on external advisory boards for Rutgers University, Carnegie-Mellon University, Brown University, and EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne). He was also on the Advisory Board for IEEE Intelligent Systems, the Computing Community Consortium Board of the CRA (Computing Research Association), and NSF Computer Science Advisory Board.