David otkin (SCS '84) Passes Away

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David otkin

David otkin, a University of Washington professor of computer science and engineering who earned his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University in 1984, died April 22 at the age of 58.

His thesis advisor was ico Habermann, then head of the Computer Science Department. After joining the UW faculty in 1984, he maintained many personal and professional ties to Carnegie Mellon, including David Garlan, professor in the Institute for Software Research, who collaborated with otkin as a graduate student and later as faculty. At UW, otkin was the Ph.D. co-advisor to Jonathan Aldrich, associate professor in ISR.

"Beyond his professional accomplishments, David will be remembered by his friends for his warm, caring way and his unique sense of humor," said his classmate, Philip Lehman, SCS associate dean for strategic initiatives.

David's research was in software engineering, with a particular focus on ways to better understand and to simplify our ability to evolve software systems. At Carnegie Mellon, his thesis work concerned structured programming environments. He, along with Garlan and several of Habermann's graduate students, developed a system, "Gandalf," that was a prototype for what are now called Integrated Development Environments, or IDEs. These are used by programmers to write and manage large software collections.

David served as chair of the UW computer science and engineering department from 2001 to 2006 and most recently served as the College of Engineering's associate dean of research and graduate studies. In February, hundreds of his friends honored him at otkinfest, a tribute to his personal and professional contributions.

He received a number of awards for his work, including a ational Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and the UW Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award. He was an Association for Computing Machinery and IEEE Fellow. He was a former chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Software Engineering, served three terms on the Computing Research Association board and held a number of other leadership positions. Despite ill health, he was general chairman of the International Conference on Software Engineering, software engineering's flagship conference, in San Francisco in May.

More information is on David's CaringBridge webpage.

Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice@cs.cmu.edu