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Professor Jack Minker

University of Maryland

I am honored to be selected as one of the Heroes of Computer Science.

Professor Emeritus Jack Minker is a leading authority in Artificial Intelligence (AI), deductive databases (DDBs), logic programming (LP) and nonmonotonic reasoning. He is also an internationally recognized leader in human rights of scientists.  

He became interested in computing through his late wife, Rita, who was one of the early computer programmers. She encouraged him to be in computers. He started his career in industry.  In March 1952 he went to work at RCA in Camden, New Jersey where he worked in the area of operations research. He co-authored perhaps the earliest paper on the simulation of a communications network system by digital computers. 

He joined the University of Maryland (UMD) in 1967.  Became founding chair Computer Science Department (CSD) (1974-1979). During his tenure CSD ranked among top 12 US and top 6 state CSDs.  

A founder of Deductive Data Bases (DDBs) and Disjunctive DDBs.  Developed first result in disjunctive DDBs, the Generalized Closed World Assumption, for negated data.  A founder of disjunctive Logic Programs, used in AI and knowledge representation and reasoning.

In Scientific Freedom and Human Rights (SFHR), he has been Vice-Chair, CS, of the Committee of Concerned Scientists since 1972/1973 to the present time. In his retirement, he wrote a book on the experience he had in human rights, Scientific Freedom and Human Rights, Scientists of Conscience During the Cold War (2011). He also co-authored a book chapter, Logic and Databases: History of Deductive Databases (2014).

For his work in human rights, the NY Academy of Scientists Human Rights Committee 2011 Heinz R. Pagels Award, for his inspired and effective accomplishments on behalf of the Human Rights of Scientists throughout the world.

Other awards and honors

Jack has received numerous awards and honors, the most important are:

  • Association for Computing Machinery, Recognition of Service In appreciation for his contribution to the ACM as, Vice-Chair/Scientific Freedom and Human Rights Committee 1980--1989 - September 1989.
  • Elected to the rank of Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). For research in database systems and artificial intelligence, and for activities as an educator and an outspoken defender of human rights'' - January 1989
  • Elected to the rank of Founding Fellow American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) – 1990.
  • Elected to the rank of Fellow of Institute for Electronics and Electrical Engineering (IEEE). For contributions to deductive databases, disjunctive logic programming, and artificial intelligence.'' - 1991.
  • Elected to the rank of Founding Fellow Association for Computing Machinery - 1993. (Among the first 120 elected as a Fellow) 
  • University of Maryland President's Medal – 1996. Recognizing a member of the College Park community who has made extraordinary contributions to the social, intellectual, and cultural life of the campus. The award is the highest honor at the University of Maryland.
  • ACM/AAAI, 2005 Allen Newell Award. For his fundamental contributions to the fields of deductive databases, logic programming, and more generally, logic based methods in Computer Science and for his truly unprecedented role in organizing and stimulating scientific discourse.