Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The most fascinating computer scientist?

According to his website, Jay Earley is a nationally known transformational psychologist and author of the book Interactive Group Therapy: Integrating Interpersonal, Action-Oriented, and Psychodynamic Approaches. A psychology Ph.D. graduate of the Saybrook Graduate School and the Gestalt institute in San Francisco, Jay now offers Life Purpose Coaching and Change Agent Coaching. If you want to find your life purpose or make a difference in the world, Jay is the guy to see.

Jay Earley is also one of the most important computer scientists of the 20th century. At the bottom of his bio you will find the following paragraph:

Jay also has a Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie-Mellon University and was formerly on the U.C. Berkeley faculty, where he published 12 computer science papers, one of which was voted one of the best 25 papers of the quarter century by the Communications of the A.C.M.

According to one of my undergraduate professors, Jay Earley had finished his Ph.D. at CMU at a ridiculously young age and was a very young (early 20s) faculty member at Berkeley when he decided to switch directions. He wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on what is now known as Earley parsing, an algorithm for parsing any context-free grammar. This algorithm has been quite influential in computational linguistics but is also cited in other areas. Just yesterday I came upon the paper when tracing citations from a paper about preventing SQL injection attacks.

You may find a partial list of Earley's publications here.

2 comments:

seth said...

hmm...weird. but there's gotta be other people with computer science backgrounds who switched directions pretty radically. Only thing coming to my mind is that noted Iraqi con-man Ahmed Chalabi has a PhD in math from the University of Chicago. But then there's probably lots of interesting folks out there with math degrees.

jxyz said...

What I find really fascinating is that before he switched he developed a parsing algorithm that surpassed Knuth's.