FME Sad News: Peter Lucas passed away Feb. 2, 2015

We are sad to report that on the 2nd of February, 2015, Prof. Peter Lucas passed away peacefully after a lengthy illness. He is remembered by many for his important contributions to the development of computer languages, and to those connected with FME as the chairman who established the association as a free and independent organisation. Colleagues will remember him as a computer scientist whose technical passion and skill were matched by a wise, balanced, and cheerful outlook.


****Peter was born on Jan. 13, 1935.
He graduated from the Technical University of Vienna in 1959. He joined
the Vienna research group under Prof. Zemanek and did all the systems
programming for the Mailüfterl. In the course of building an Algol 60
compiler he did original research whose main contribution is known as
recursive descent parsing.

In late 1961 the research group joined IBM to
form the nucleus of the IBM laboratory in Vienna. In the following years he
did original research in formal semantics of programming languages and compiler correctness proofs. The most visible result of this period is probably the formal definition of PL/I.

In the 1970’s Peter continued research in semantic compiler design but changed the focus to program development in general. In 1972 he was the first to propose the axiomatic definition of abstract data types (which were called software devices at this time). In the late 70s he became interested in new ways of programming applications by highly parameterizing the procedural code and using rules for representing fractual information.

In 1978 Peter moved to the IBM research center in Yorktown Heights where he joined an experimental compiler project. A year later he moved to the research center in San Jose where he became active in Rules Technology. From 1986 to 1987 he worked with Steve Zilles on data stream and graphics interfaces and among other projects developed a family of completely functional data types for graphic objects. In 1988 he joined the functional programming project around John Backus and participated in the definition and implementation of the functional language FL. In 1993 he became a full professor for software technology at the Graz University of Technology in Austria. In 2001 he retired from his chair in Graz and moved back to California. From 1994 to 2000 Peter was the chairman of FME (Formal Methods Europe).

He obtained the IBM Outstanding Contribution Award for the formal specification of PL/I in 1968 and the ACM best paper award in 1969. Furthermore he is Senior Member of the IEEE, Honorary Professor at Johannes
Kepler University of Linz since 1987, and a corresponding member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences since 1994.

Peter was also a great teacher. During the 9 years in Graz he and his assistants held over 100 courses and he supervised 6 Ph.D. and about 70 M.Sc. students.

Author: Bernhard Aichernig