Edsger W. Dijkstra Archive



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Remarks at the Funeral of Edsger W. Dijkstra

I apologize for speaking in English.

I am the chair of the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin and Edsger held the Schlumberger Centennial Chair in our department.

Edsger was part of our family for almost 20 years. He was a father figure to many of us. But he was also a colleague and a friend.

Often, people who knew him only in passing said to me ``It must be terrible to have Dijkstra on your faculty.'' They were afraid that his outspoken manner would produce contention. But that was not the case.

Edsger was a wonderful colleague. He taught his students with supreme skill and passion. He brought to faculty meetings only one agenda: How can we improve? How can we become better scientists? Better scholars? Better teachers? He stated his positions in the open and debated them. Then he cast his single vote and that was that.

Never did he come to the chair's office and argue, behind the scenes, that because he was Edsger W. Dijkstra we should do things his way.

I wish I had 10 faculty members like Edsger. But, alas, there was only one Edsger.

He often came to campus in a cowboy hat. And a T-shirt. From the waist up, he looked more Texan than I do. But he also wore shorts and sandals and carried a little bag. That ruined the Texan image. He was different and we were better for it.

He was like a man with a light in the darkness. He illuminated virtually every issue he discussed. Almost every encounter with him taught me something.

Yes, he was a great computer scientist. He defined much of our vocabulary. He invented many of the important ideas. He will be remembered as one of the giants of the science. But we at the University of Texas at Austin will remember him with more than just respect and admiration. We will remember him with love and affection.

Thank you.

J Strother Moore
Heeze, the Netherlands
August 10, 2002

Revised Wed, 23 Jun 2004