Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit (banazir) wrote,
Banazîr the Jedi Hobbit

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If you meet your master in the road, feed him

[Professor Sylvian R. Ray]

Dr. Sylvian R. Ray
Professor Emeritus
Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

My Jedi master, Sylvian Ray, is here visiting me in Manhattan today. I haven't seen him since 1999!

We started by catching up on how I have been carrying out my mission here in the Outer Rim these last six years, and over lunch, he told me the teuncy story of his elder son's wedding. Later, I took him on a quick walking tour of the K-State Alumni Center. We opted to go straight back to Nichols and look around the labs instead of going over to the Union, but I may take him on a driving tour of campus later.

Sylvian is an incredibly versatile and diverse AI researcher with interests in multisensor integration, biomedical signal processing, and computational neuroscience. His main research areas these days are intelligent data analysis and sensorimotor control. Recently he's been working on learning in multiagent systems.

I was Sylvian's 14th padawan learner (Ph.D. student) and approximately his 65th thesis advisee (M.S. and Ph.D.). He received his Ph.D. from UIUC in 1961, with a doctoral dissertation on computer architecture. In those days, he was one of the designers of the ILLIAC II, and worked on the memory core. (We talked about my recent "kids today" essay briefly today.)

Once back in Nichols, I introduced my former Ph.D. advisor to Alley Stoughton and Anindya Banerjee, and he met with Julie Thornton (my most recent M.S. alumna), Steve Welch (our FIBR project leader), and Jason Li (my senior Ph.D. student), but we didn't get to meet with Scott DeLoach (the main multi-agent systems researcher in our department) or Sanjoy Das (an artificial neural networks and sensor fusion researcher). Well, there's always next time!

Just before I dashed off to my bioinformatics data mining class, I told Sylvian that I just signed my tenure appointment letter yesterday, and was heartily congratulated. Talk about your warm fuzzies! Priceless.

My mom and dad joined us for dinner at Royal Thai Cuisine. Professor Ray has adapted his vegetarian diet to include seafood, so we had the red snapper, among other dishes. I highly recommend the vegetarian spring rolls and deep-fried tofu, along with the "three flavor fish" (red snapper) unless you are darana or zurich31.

In the next four hours, we stayed up catching up on the last six years. Banadad told Professor Ray about his post-retirement career as a political columnist, and we watched a nice short film on the recently-patented self-aiming camera (SAC) that Sylvian invented along with Dr. Tom Anastasio (of the Beckman Institute Neuronal Pattern Analysis group and the Molecular and Integrative Physiology department) and Dr. Tom Huang (of ECE and the Beckman Institute).

Did I mention that Sylvian retired at the age of 70 in 2001? He still teaches the neural networks course at UIUC and advises 3 Ph.D. and 4 M.S. students. I fully expect that padawans 15, 16, and 17 will achieve Jedi knighthood, so to speak. As you can see from Sylvian's personal homepage, he keeps active.

Professor Ray is staying overnight and will be heading back to chambana in the morning.

May you all be blessed with major professors as brilliant, genteel, and knowledgeable as mine.
A keen balance between ability and grace is the hallmark of civilization, and I have always said I have met no better role model than this gentleman.


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