IFIP Working Group 2.3
Programming Methodology

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(Sad) News

Some remembrances of Doug Ross

Of Lexington, 77, January 31, from complications of a fall. Beloved husband of Patricia M. Ross.  Loving father of Jane L. Ross of Brookline, Kathryn R. Chow and her husband Henry R. Smedley of New York City, and Margaret R. Thrasher of Durham NH, and three grandchildren: Karen, Nicholas, and Bethany Thrasher.  Doug is survived by two sisters, Margaret J. Hastings and her husband James B. Hastings of Princeton NJ and Frances R. Grimm and her husband Robert J. Grimm of Portland OR.  As Head of the Computer Application Group at the MIT Electronic Systems Laboratory, Doug led the development of the Automatically Programmed Tool Language (APT), a special purpose programming language that became the world standard for programming computer-controlled machine tools.  He then turned his attention to the development of a software engineering methodology and supporting tools.  This led to the development while at MIT of the first software engineering language and supporting tools, the AED system.  In 1969 Doug founded SofTech, Inc. where he continued to work on software engineering standards.  While at SofTech, Doug conceived of SA, a graphic notation and methodology for system description.  SA has been successfully applied worldwide as SofTechs Structured Analysis and Design Technique (SADT) or as the U.S. government standard IDEF0.  Memorial Service with reception at Hancock United Church of Christ, Congregational, 1912 Massachusetts Ave., Lexington at 2:00 PM Sun., February 11.

--from Death Notices, the Boston Globe

 

Here some views about Doug.  For me, he has been an important pioneer in crucial areas throughout his career. Here are two examples:

Later, Doug became more and more interested in epistemological, philosophical and logic-related studies.  It is possible his work in that direction became too pioneering or too advanced for his colleagues, including us.  Who knows, the future may prove him right.  At any rate, his reflections regularly made me think.

--Michel Sintzoff


Let's not forget that SofTech played a major role in the spread of Pascal, especially in the academic community.

Not to mention that Doug was a great friend and mentor, with an infectious sense of word play.  Do you all remember "9-W" and "About 20 drachmas a day"?

--Jim Horning

[The word-play phrases are the answers to the questions "Do you spell your name with a V, Mr. Wagner?" and "What's a Grecian urn?".]

I just attended a service to celebrate Doug Ross's life at the Hancock Church in Lexington, and thought that those of you who live far away and would have attended if you lived closer might want to hear about it.  The church was almost full; there must have been about 200 people there.  Several beautiful hymns were sung, accompanied by an organist, and there were readings from the Psalms, and from John and Romans.  Doug's daughters Jane and Peggy spoke very movingly about their memories of him, his ability to explain everything, his religious fervour (which became later in life more philosophical and intellectual), his liking for stock car racing, and how readily he expressed his emotions and his love of his family in particular.  Jorge Rodriguez talked about how Doug mentored him when we was a graduate student, and how he helped him at some crucial points in his life.  Paul Gray, a former president of MIT, and a fellow congregant of Doug's at the church, explained the importance of Doug's early contributions to CAD/CAM tools (and recounted a story of how, carpooling one day, Doug's brakes failed going down a big hill into Belmont).  Everyone gathered for refreshments after (which included Doug's favorite cookies, for which a recipe was displayed), and we wrote name stickers saying how we knew Doug.  There was a table displaying some of Doug's certificates, photos, an SADT book, and some early promotional materials from SofTech.  The MIT contingent included Paul Gray, Joe Stoy, Joel Moses, Jack Dennis and Fernando Corbato; Sol Greenspan and Guy Steele were there too.  I talked to Pat and she seemed very happy to see so many people who held Doug in such affection.

--Daniel Jackson