Computer Systems Laboratory Colloquium

4:15PM, Wednesday, January 26, 2005
NEC Auditorium, Gates Computer Science Building B03

Fifty Years of Hacks*
A Computer Geek's Confession

Ed Fredkin
Carnegie Mellon University
About the talk:

This lecture is basically about some disconnected but interesting computer-personal history that is mostly unknown. It all starts in LA then takes place in a Jet Fighter, at Lincoln Laboratory, BBN, III, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, BU, Carnegie Mellon, the CIA, the Kremlin, the White House and the IBM Board-Room. Other things happened at the USSR Academy of Sciences: the Presidium and various centers and institutes. Then there is the International Laboratory for Research in Artificial Intelligence! The players include Stanford’s own John McCarthy along with other luminaries and political leaders. The action covers having fun inventing parts of the future, using computers in new ways, making great things happen, killing off gigantic losers, do goodery and an occasional screw-up.

* By “Hack” we mean a modest effort that yields a surprisingly big result, the “hacker” is known to very few and the result is hopefully amusing. In this case the hacker always meant well, but…

About the speaker:

Edward Fredkin Fredkin dropped out of Caltech after one year and, at age 19, joined the USAF and became a jet fighter pilot. Fredkin’s computer career started in 1956 when the Air Force assigned him to work at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories. In 1968 Fredkin returned to academia, starting at MIT as a full professor. From 1971 to 1974 he was the Director of CSAIL (formerly “LCS” or “Project MAC”). He spent a year at Caltech as a Fairchild Distinguished Scholar, working with Richard Feynman, and was a Professor of Physics at Boston University for 6 years. More recently he has been a Distinguished Career Professor at Carnegie Mellon University and also a Visiting Professor at MIT.

Fredkin has been broadly interested in computation: hardware and software. He is the inventor of many things including the Trie data structue, the Fredkin Gate and the Billiard Ball Model. Fredkin and his students did pioneering work on cellular automata and reversible computing. He has also been involved in computer vision, chess and other areas of AI research. Fredkin also works at the intersection of theoretical issues in the physics of computation and computational models of physics. He recently developed Salt, a model of computation based on fundamental conservation laws from physics.

Contact information:

Edward Fredkin
Carnegie Mellon University
Building 23 MS 23-11
Moffett Field, CA 93035