John McCarthy, Turing Award winner and one of the luminaries of computer science, died yesterday. I’ve spent the evening after the SPLASH Educators’ Symposium listening to McCarthy’s OOPSLA 2007 keynote speech (mp3).
John McCarthy was one of the earliest collaborators of my doctoral advisor, Robert “Corky” Cartwright. They worked on first-order programming logic in 1978 (Recursive programs as functions in a first order theory) and 1979 (First order programming logic).
McCarthy was on Corky’s committee. In Germany, the doctoral advisor is called “Doktorvater”, doctor father. If I haven’t quite lost a doctoral grandfather, I have at least lost a doctoral granduncle.