Monday, August 29, 2011

Patrick Fischer (1935-2011)

Patrick Fischer, founder of STOC and SIGACT, passed away Friday at the age of 75. Fischer's research spanned from studying the relative power of different machine models in the early days of theoretical computer science to database theory later in his career.

In the late 1960's Fischer, realizing the growth of theoretical computer science, established the ACM Special Interest Committee on Automata Theory and Computability (SIGACT, now the Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory) and served as its first chair. Fischer also served as conference chair for the first five Symposia on the Theory of Computing (STOC).

Fischer taught at Harvard, Cornell, Waterloo, Penn State and Vanderbilt.  In 1982, he was a target of the Unabomber. Fischer was away at the time but his secretary was seriously injured.

Fischer leaves behind his wife, Charlotte Froese Fischer, and brother Michael Fischer, both famous computer scientists in their own right. He also leaves a daughter Carolyn. A full obituary can be found here.

Update 8/31: New York Times Obituary


  1. The late Prof. Fischer deserves a Wikipedia page.

  2. The criteria by which someone gets a Wikipedia page is that someone else thought they should have one.
    (can you do one of yourself?) Hence it is somewhat
    arbitrary, though very famous people do have them.

    Anon- This may be an odd sort of complaint since if
    you think there should be one, do one (or is it harder
    than that?)

  3. maybe he feels unqualified to write it?