We bid farewell to Juris Hartmanis

We bid farewell to Juris Hartmanis, who was awarded the ACM A.M. Turing Award together with Richard E. Stearns in 1993, in recognition of their seminal paper which established the foundations for the field of computational complexity theory.

Juris Hartmanis came from a prominent Latvian family, his father was the Chief of Staff of the Latvian Army who was arrested during the first Soviet occupation of Latvia in 1940 and later executed in Moscow. Fearing a second Soviet occupation, in late 1944 the family fled by sea to Danzig and with a friend’s help settled in Marburg.

Juris Hartmanis studied physics in Marburg (Cand. Phil., 1949) and later attained his M.A. in Mathematics at the University of Kansas City in 1951. Afterwards he earned his doctorate in Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology in 1955 with a thesis about lattice theory. He worked as a lecturer at Cornell University (1955-1957) and as an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University (1957-1958). He then moved to the General Electric Research Laboratory (1958-1965), and in 1965 became Professor and first Chairman of the newly created Department of Computer Science at Cornell University.

Hartmanis was a member of numerous scientific academies and he held the Grand Medal of the Latvian Academy of Sciences (Lielo Medalu, 2001).

He received the ACM A.M Turing Award together with Richard E. Stearns. The full citation for the award reads:

“In their paper On the Computational Complexity of Algorithms they provided a precise definition of the complexity measure defined by computation time on Turing machines and developed a theory of complexity classes. The paper sparked the imagination of many computer scientists and led to the establishment of complexity theory as a fundamental part of the discipline.”


Category: HLFF Forum