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[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.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 9th, 2005 02:06 pm (UTC)
if he doesnt look like a sci-fi writer, noone does. I didnt read the entry the first time through - i really thought it was that fantasy writers meme that's been going around - how cool!
Jun. 9th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC)
sounds luverly.

on another note, Sylvian is a rilly cllo name. RILLY.
Jun. 9th, 2005 06:35 pm (UTC)
Yee, ittis, innit?

I introduced Sylvian to my office neighbor, colleague, and friend Alley Stoughton, and it was like a rare and unusual names convention right outside my office!

(That icon is hardcore, BTW.)

Jun. 10th, 2005 04:38 am (UTC)
unusual names
I introduced Sylvian to ... Alley Stoughton, and it was like a rare and unusual names convention right outside my office!

Did you notice he has a student named Tuna?

And you said he'd added seafood to his veggie diet. :D

Seriously, I'm glad you had such a good time with your old mentor. (^_^)
Jun. 10th, 2005 08:29 am (UTC)
Tirion upon Tuna
Did you notice he has a student named Tuna?
And you said he'd added seafood to his veggie diet. :D


Seriously, I'm glad you had such a good time with your old mentor. (^_^)
Yep, thanks - peektures coming.

Jun. 10th, 2005 04:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Jolly POOH BEAR?!
That icon is hardcore, BTW.

It's the logo of a wacky band I love called Roper.

I call it Dread Pirate Teddy.
Jun. 12th, 2005 06:33 am (UTC)
Roper and its Dread Pirate Teddy
The Dread Pirate Teddy should appear in some massforge producktion. I'll write to Roper!

I might even give their snogs a lissen...

Jun. 9th, 2005 09:18 pm (UTC)
Your account of your day spent with him was very interesting.
Interesting because it is very obvious how much you still hold this man in such high regard.

Even in that photo he appears to be the brilliant, genteel, and knowledgeable man you described him so eloquantly.

I'm sure that each and every student who had the good fortune of meeting and learning through him would agree with you on all you said above.

Jedi Master ... that does seem quite a fitting title for him !!

I am so happy to hear that you had such a wonderful day.
May the next time you meet not be so long again.

Jun. 10th, 2005 12:29 pm (UTC)
It's so nice that you're still in touch and all. I hope it works that way for me! However, I am here intruding on your journal to say HELP! I recall seeing you post joyously that you had ridded your computer of a takeover program that sent you to another homepage and basically irritated the daylights out of you. Guess what I've got?! Can you recall what you used to exterminate this little problem? Thanks tons in advance!
(The transplanted Kansan)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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