• 1935
    (b.) -
    2006 December 11


Born in New York City, he went to public school in Brooklyn. He graduated from A.B. Davis High School in Mount Vernon, New York and attended Harvard University, receiving a Bachelor's Degree in Mathematics in 1956. He never received an advanced degree since at that time no programs were available in his areas of interest. However, he took graduate courses at several different universities and contributed to the development of computer science and software engineering. In the 1971-1972 academic year he lectured on software engineering at French universities. During his career he carried out research and development in operating systems, compiler design, language design, and operations research. After graduating from Harvard, he worked at ORO (Operation Research Office), a program set up by Johns Hopkins to do research and development for the United States Army. In 1958 he left ORO to take a position at a company called Technical Operations, where he helped build a research and development laboratory for military software projects. In 1961 he left Technical Operations to found Massachusetts Computer Associates. Later, this company became part of Applied Data Research (ADR). After the merger, He sat on the board of directors of ADR and managed a variety of projects and organizations. There is an interesting anecdote about his proof that the transitive closure algorithm, now known as Warshall's algorithm, is correct. He and a colleague at Technical Operations bet a bottle of rum on who first could determine whether this algorithm always works. He came up with his proof overnight, winning the bet and the rum, which he shared with the loser of the bet. Because he did not like sitting at a desk, he did much of his creative work in unconventional places such as on a sailboat in the Indian Ocean or in a Greek lemon orchard. He retired from ADR in 1982 and taught a weekly class in Biblical Hebrew at Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester, MA.
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  • Date of Death:

    2006 December 11
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  • Noted For:

    Developer of the transitive closure algorithm, known as Warshall's algorithm which is a graph analysis algorithm for finding shortest paths in a weighted graph (with positive or negative edge weights)
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