Remembrance Department Head, Faculty Member Charles William “Bill” Gear | Computing

Charles William Gear, widely known as Bill, a prominent computer scientist best known for his work in numerical analysis, died in Princeton, New Jersey, on March 15 at the age of 87.

C.William Gear

Illinois CS colleagues provide a deeper perspective on Bill Gear

“Bill, or more formally C. William Gear, was an outstanding computer scientist and contributed to many areas of research, including numerical integration of differential equations, automatic problem solving systems, simulation and analysis of network, computer graphics, and vision. As an educator, he has published several books, including the very popular “Introduction to Computer Organization and Programming. However, many members of the computer and computer community numerical analysis will be remembered for his leadership as head of the computer science department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), his involvement in numerous professional societies, and his warm heart, his friendship and his good advice.

– Roy H. Campbell, Professor Emeritus Sohaib and Sara Abbasi

“I was amazed when I joined the computer science department as a professor in 1985. Bill Gear, who had become the head of the department just months before I arrived, was the person whose book taught me a great deal. part of computer basics – ‘Organization and computer programming.’ Of course, he was among the pioneers and multi-talented people who made up the first generation of Illinois computer scientists, especially during Illiac’s early days.As a department head, his leadership style was consultative. He always made his own decisions, but everyone felt they were duly consulted.Bill left an indelible mark on our department.

– Laxmikant “Sanjay” Kale, Paul and Cynthia Saylor Emeritus Research Professor and Professor

“C. William Gear is a key figure in computer science. During his extraordinarily productive career spanning more than 60 years, he made many important contributions to research in digital computing and, early in his career , on compiler technology. His influential research, along with his equally influential contributions to education in the form of widely adopted textbooks, made him one of the most visible computer scientists of his time. He will be missed and he will be remembered with gratitude as one of the founders of the Department of Computer Science, an admired department head, and one of the key builders of our department’s excellence and reputation.

– David Padua, Donald Biggar Willett Emeritus Professor of Engineering

Born on February 1, 1935, to working-class parents in London, he attended Cambridge University on full scholarship. There he “read” the math, but if you believe his own stories, he apparently spent most of his time in a scull, rowing the Cam. After graduating in 1956, with support from the Fulbright and Johnson Foundation, he headed to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to learn about computers, still in the early stages of development. Originally intending to stay for only a year, he stayed to earn a doctorate in mathematics. in 1960. After graduating, he went to work at IBM British Laboratories in Hursley.

Two years later he returned to the University of Illinois, where he rose through the faculty ranks from Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics to Full Professor in 1969 and, in 1985, Head of the Department of Computer Science. computer science, as well as professor of Computer Science, Applied Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Beginning in 1990, Gear also continued to serve Illinois CS as a professor emeritus. Three departmental awards are also created in his honor: the CW Gear Outstanding Undergraduate Award, the CW Gear Outstanding Graduate Award, and the CW Gear Outstanding Junior Faculty Award.

In 1990, he was appointed vice president of the computer science research division of the newly established NEC Research Institute in Princeton, New Jersey. He established his computer division there and, two years later, became president of the Institute, which also supported research in physics.

After retiring in 2000, he quickly became a part-time senior researcher at Princeton University, where he continued his research work, primarily with associates in the chemical and biological engineering department.

A member of the National Academy of Engineering from 1991, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences five years later. In 1987 he received an honorary doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. Also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, in 1987-1988 he was President of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

In his free time, he regularly attends concerts, operas and plays. He also loved sailing, tennis, New York Times crossword puzzles, parties and, most importantly, trips to destinations around the world.

He is survived by his partner of 50 years, his wife Ann Lee Morgan, an art historian; a daughter, K. Jodi Gear of Butte, Montana, and a son, Christopher, of Reno, Nevada, both from a previous marriage to Sharon Smith; four grandchildren; and a sister, Kate Redding, in England.


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