SEAS Celebrates CS Founding Chair on his 80th Birthday

Joseph Traub, Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Computer Science, celebrated his 80th birthday in grand style with a number of events, including an all-day symposium held November 9 in Davis Auditorium. The symposium was organized by Zvi Galil, former Dean of Columbia Engineering from 1995 to 2007 and currently The John P. Imlay Jr. Dean of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology; H. T. Kung, William H. Gates Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Harvard; and Shree K. Nayar, T.C. Chang Professor of Computer Science at Columbia Engineering.

“Each of the speakers has been significant in my professional life,” says Traub. “I'm grateful that they could be here for this celebration.”

The conference was well-attended and included sessions chaired by Galil; Anita Jones, University Professor Emerita, University of Virginia; and Shih-Fu Chang, Columbia Engineering Senior Vice Dean, Richard Dicker Professor of Telecommunications, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and of Computer Science.

“I was honored and happy to take part in the symposium celebrating Joe Traub's 80's birthday,” says Galil. “Joe's list of achievements is so long that I will mention only three. He created a thriving scientific area called Information-Based Complexity, he took a small computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University to eminence, where it’s now one of the very best, and at Columbia, he created the computer science department almost from scratch. It’s now an excellent department, one of very few that have six members of the National Academy of Engineering.”

“On a personal level,” he adds, “Joe brought me to Columbia in 1982 where I spent 25 years and for which I will be forever grateful.”

Traub was head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie-Mellon University from 1971 to 1979 and founding chairman of Columbia’s Computer Science Department from 1979 to 1989. He was the founding chair of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) of the National Academies from 1986 to 1992 and served again as chair from 2005 to 2009. A member of the Division Committee on Engineering and Physical Sciences (DEPS) of the National Academies, Traub is the author or editor of 10 books and more than 120 journal articles. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Complexity andassociate editor of Complexity.

Traub’s numerous honors include election to the National Academy of Engineering in 1985, the 1991 Emanuel R. Piore Gold Medal from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the 1992 Distinguished Service Award from the Computer Research Association. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He has been Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at the California Institute of Technology and received a Distinguished Senior Scientist Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. He was selected by the Academia Nazionale dei Lincei in Rome to present the 1993 Lezioni Lincee, a cycle of six lectures. Traub received the 1999 Mayor´s Award for Excellence in Science and Technology, presented to him by Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a ceremony in New York City. In May of 2001, he received an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Central Florida.

Traub has served as advisor or consultant to the senior management of numerous organizations including IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Schlumberger, Stanford University, INRIA (Paris), Federal Judiciary Center, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Science Foundation, and Lucent Technologies. In 2008 he was elected to the board of directors of the Marconi Society.

Symposium speakers included:

  • Jeannette M. Wing, President's Professor of Computer Science and department head, Carnegie Mellon University, and former assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation;
  • Henryk Wozniakowski, professor of computer science, Columbia University and professor of applied mathematics, University of Warsaw;
  • Ian Sloan, Scientia Professor at the University of New South Wales;
  • Ralph Gomory, research professor at the Stern School of Business of New York University, president emeritus of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, former director of IBM Research, and winner of the 1988 National Medal of Science;
  • Anita Jones, University Professor Emerita, University of Virginia;
  • Richard M. Karp, director, Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, University of California at Berkeley, and 1985 Turing Award winner;
  • David Lee, director, Networking and Communications Lab, HP Labs, HP;
  • Anargyros Papageorgiou, research scientist, Columbia University; and
  • David E. Shaw, chief scientist, D. E. Shaw Research, and senior research fellow, Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Columbia University.
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