In Memoriam: Aravind Joshi

It is with great sadness that we share the news that our colleague, Aravind Joshi, died on December 31, 2017, at his home. We have lost a brilliant scientist and researcher, an extraordinary teacher and mentor, a wonderful friend, and a kind and gentle soul. Aravind is survived by his wife Susan and children Shyamala and Meera.

Aravind’s research began during the formative years of information theory and communication theory. Since the 1950s, he endeavored to solve problems that overlap the disciplines of computer science and linguistics, working on syntactic and semantic representations for language structure; the relationship of language structure to logic; mathematical linguistics; the theory of computation as it relates to natural language processing; parsing algorithms; and the design and implementation of various systems for natural language processing. Throughout his long and distinguished career, he made seminal contributions in the areas of formal linguistics, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science, most notably through his invention of “Tree Adjoining Grammar” and the elucidation and application of Centering Theory. At Penn, he was the founding chair of the Department of Computer and Information Science and co-founder of our first Science and Technology Center, the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science.

Aravind's many honors and awards include the 1997 International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence Award for Research Excellence; the first Association for Computational Linguistics Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002; the 2003 David E. Rumelhart Prize; and the 2005 Benjamin Franklin Medal, “for his fundamental contributions to our understanding of how language is represented in the mind, and for developing techniques that enable computers to process efficiently the wide range of human languages.” Aravind was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1999.

These achievements notwithstanding, it was his decades of scholarly mentorship of hundreds of students and colleagues that truly delighted Aravind and brought honor and distinction to the Department of Computer and Information Science and the University of Pennsylvania.

A memorial service for Dr. Joshi will be held by the Department of Computer and Information Science on Wednesday, February 21, 2018. Please check back for details soon.