Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science

Remembering Jaime Carbonell

A Virtual Celebration of His Life

Wednesday, March 3, 2021 | 5:30–7 p.m. (EST)

Jaime Carbonell foresaw a world where people could freely communicate with each other, no matter what language they spoke. He knew that making this dream a reality would require automation, so he spent his career building systems that could understand human language.

Carbonell, 66, died February 28, 2020, following an extended illness. He was the Allen Newell Professor of Computer Science and had earned the distinction of University Professor, the highest academic accolade CMU faculty can attain. He also founded and directed the Center for Machine Translation, which later became the Language Technologies Institute.

We gathered virtually to celebrate Jaime's life, accomplishments and contributions to both SCS and the field of computer science. The complete event is available in the video below.

Support the Fund

To honor Jaime, SCS has established the Jaime Carbonell Endowed Faculty Support Fund. When you contribute, you honor Jaime’s legacy and invest in the faculty who will follow in his footsteps. Contact us with any questions.

Make a Gift

About Jaime

jaime-closeup.jpgRaj Reddy, former SCS dean and the Moza Bint Nasser University Professor of Computer Science and Robotics, called Jaime the "godfather of language technologies."

Jaime grew up in Spanish-speaking Uruguay before his family moved to Boston when he was nine. He earned his bachelor's degrees in mathematics and physics at MIT, where he translated computer manuals into Spanish part-time and developed machine-translation tools to speed up the process. Thus began a fascination with machine translation that would stay with him the rest of his life.

After earning his master's degree and Ph.D. in computer science at Yale, Jaime joined CMU in 1979 and led teams that developed knowledge-based machine translation of text as well as speech-to-speech translation. He invented a number of well-known algorithms and methods, including maximal marginal relevance (MMR) for summarizing text and a type of machine learning called proactive learning. He created the university's Ph.D. program in language technologies, and founded the Center for Machine Translation, which became the Language Technologies Institute. He also co-created the Universal Library and its Million Book Project. That's just scratching the surface of his accomplishments and contributions.

Jaime also advised more than 60 Ph.D. students who continue to spread his influence through the world, along with his "Bill of Rights": getting the right information to the right people at the right time in the right language in the right medium with the right level of detail.

For a full recounting of Jaime's career and life, read his obituary.

From His Former Students

A portrait of Robert Frederking

"Jaime always had astounding levels of energy and creativity. I have never understood how he could advise maybe a dozen Ph.D. students, run the LTI, personally be the principal investigator on several research projects, teach regularly and travel to DC frequently to work with funding agencies."

Robert Frederking
SCS Associate Dean of Doctoral Programs

A portrait of Manuela Veloso.

"Even now, I still look at Jaime as my advisor, and throughout my career have turned to him for different types of advice. I have graduated 40 Ph.D. students, and I will always thank Jaime for having graduated me."

Manuela Veloso
University Professor of Computer Science

Leave a Comment in Memory of Jaime

Have a favorite Jaime story or memory? Leave your comment below to add to our tribute wall.