Aravind Krishna Joshi
Renowned computer scientist Aravind Krishna Joshi, born in Pune, India on August 5, 1929 passed peacefully in his home in Philadelphia on December 31, 2017. Aravind came to the United States by boat in 1954 to study at the University of Pennsylvania, after he was rejected by Harvard because his application, mailed from India, arrived a day late. Over the next five decades his research at Penn and inventions spanned diverse areas of computational natural language processing, including the development of a mathematical theory of grammar that captured the rich variety of human languages, yet is simple enough for a child to learn -Tree Adjoining Grammer – the foundation of today’s voice to text and translation applications and internet search engines used by millions worldwide. These inventions were possible only because of Aravind’s unprecedented inclusion of linguists, psychologists, philosophers and mathematicians as well as computer scientists and engineers in his work. Aravind Joshi was the recipient of almost every major award in the fields of artificial intelligence, cognitive science and computational linguistics, including the 1997 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence; the first ACL Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2002; the 2003 David E. Rumelhart Prize; and the 2005 Benjamin Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science. While at Penn he met his still spectacular wife Susan Heyner of England and settled in the cultural crossroads of the world, West Philadelphia, where they raised two daughters Shyamala Joshi and Meera Joshi, who now reside in Brooklyn with their families including Meera’s children, Aravind’s grandchildren, Marco and Ava.
I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Dr. Joshi. He was an incredible human and the world has lost an effervescent spirit. I speak not as one of his brilliant students but a basic secretary who worked with him in the Computer Science Department at UPenn. Simply being part of his accepting nature enabled me to learn so much about a world I had no idea existed before working with him.
I found him to be mild yet strong, quiet yet formidable, and humble yet great. You are in my prayers as you continue on.