Jack Minker

Minker's picture

Email: minker@cs.umd.edu

Web Page: http://www.cs.umd.edu/~minker

Current Position: Professor Emeritus, Department of Computer Science, UMIACS, University of Maryland.

Education: BA Mathematics - major, Education - minor (cum laude with honors in Mathematics), Brooklyn College, 1949
MS Mathematics - University of Wisconsin, 1950
PhD Mathematics, ``Some Applications of Orthogonal System of Functions to Interpolation and Analytic Continuation,'' - University of Pennsylvania, 1959.

Home Address:
6913 Millwood Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20817
My House

Research Interests: Artificial intelligence, Deductive Databases, Logic Programming, Nonmonotonic Reasoning

Research group: PRISM

BIOGRAPHIC SKETCH OF JACK MINKER

Professor Emeritus Jack Minker is a leading authority in artificial intelligence, deductive databases, logic programming and nonmonotonic reasoning. He is also an internationally recognized leader in the field of human rights of computer scientists.

He started his career in industry at the Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, New York in January 1951 and worked on flutter analysis of wings of missiles and related problems. In March 1952 he went to work at RCA in Camden, New Jersey where he worked in the area of operations research. He co-authored perhaps the earliest paper on the simulation of a communications network system by digital computers. In 1963 he joined the Auerbach Corporation and became Technical Director of the Washington office.

Dr. Minker started his academic career at the University of Maryland in 1967 and became Professor of Computer Science in 1971. In 1974 he was appointed first Chairman of the Department of Computer Science. Dr. Minker also has a part-time permanent position in the University of Maryland's Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. During his tenure as Chairman (1974-1979), the National Academy of Sciences ranked the Department among the top 12 computer science departments and the top 6 state universities in the United States. Following his chairmanship, while at Maryland, he served as Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Computing to the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 1980-1982.

Dr. Minker is editor or co-editor of five books on deductive databases, logic programming, and the use of logic in artificial intelligence. He has authored over 150 refereed publications consisting of journal articles, conference papers and book chapters.

He is considered one of the founders of the area of deductive databases; was one of the first to define the field; to note its significance; to write a survey article; and to provide an historical perspective of the field. He has contributed to theories of semantic query optimization and cooperative and informative answers for deductive databases. He has also developed a theoretical basis for disjunctive databases that handles negative data. He developed the concept of the Generalized Closed World Assumption (GCWA), in which one can conclude when it is reasonable to assume that the negation of an atomic formula is true in disjunctive theories.

In the area of artificial intelligence, he contributed to nonmonotonic reasoning. Together with a colleague he modified the concept of circumscription to apply to cases in which one is reluctant to conclude that a statement is either true or false. Additionally, he showed that there were conditions under which circumscription is complete.

He extended the theory of logic programming to include disjunctive logic programming. Together with his students, he developed denotational, model, and proof-theoretic semantics for disjunctive logic programs and proved that each of the semantics yields the same result. Work in the theory of disjunctive logic programs has been extended to cover the case of stratified and well-founded disjunctive logic programs. Additionally he developed an extension to well-founded programs both for general disjunctive and general Horn logic programs.

Dr. Minker has contributed several articles related to the history of computing. Among such articles is one written with his late wife, Rita, on the history of boolean optimization.

He has performed extensive service for the scientific community. Among these activities he was a member of the NASA Robotics Study Group which made recommendations to NASA for robotics activities in support of space missions. He also served on the NASA Advisory Board of the Center for Excellence in Space Data and Information Systems (CESDIS), to foster excellence in computing at NASA.

Dr. Minker was active in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He was National Program Chairman from 1968-1970. He was Program Chairman of the 1967 National ACM Conference. At this conference he organized the first session devoted to the history of computing ever held at a major computer conference. He served as Advisor to the Editor-in-Chief of Computer Reviews. In addition to his ACM activities, he is on the Editorial Board of numerous prestigious journals, such as the Annals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence. He is Founding Editor-in-Chief of the Theory and Practice of Logic Programming. He was Program Chairman for North America for the First Jerusalem Conference on Information Science and Technology, held in 1971.

In the area of human rights of computer scientists, he has been Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Concerned Scientists since 1973, and Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights (CSFHR) of the Association for Computing Machinery from 1980--1989. As Vice-Chairman of the CSFHR, he edited and wrote four extensive reports, published in the Communications of the ACM on the status of the human rights of computer professionals throughout the world, in which all known computer professionals whose human rights had been violated were listed. He was awarded the Association for Computing Machinery's Outstanding Contribution Award for 1985 for his work on human rights.

He led the struggle in the computer community for the release of Anatoly Shcharansky from the late Soviet Union, before his case was generally recognized as significant. He also led the fight for the release of the internationally known cyberneticist Professor Aleksandr Lerner from the Soviet Union. He is the English Editor of a Festschrift in honor of Professor Lerner's 70th birthday. The Festschrift comprises the entire issue of the Journal of the Academic Proceedings of Soviet Jewry, Volume 2, Number 1 (1989). He also visited the Soviet Embassy in Washington, D.C. to allow them to release Dr. Andrei Sakharov from home arrest in Gorky and to permit him to return to Moscow and to allow his wife, Yelena Bonner, to receive medical attention in the West.

He has received numerous awards, listed below. Among these awrds is the University of Maryland Presidential Medal 1996 - recognizing a member of the College Park Community who has made extraordinary contributions to the social, intellectual, and cultural life of the campus.

Dr. Minker retired in 1998 and is now Professor Emeritus. During his retirement he still performs research and service. In 2002 he was inducted into the University of Maryland Academy for Education, Teaching and Learning. In May 2007, he was invited to present a keynote lecture at the Logic Programming and Nonmonotonic Reasoning 2007 International Conference, held in Tempe, Arizona. The lecture, ``Reflections on Logic Programming and Nonmonotonic Reasoning'' covered the period from the start of the field up to the date of the conference. Dr. Minker highlighted what he believed were the important developments in the field. On May 23, 1998, he delivered the Commencement Address to the College of Computers, Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Maryland.

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Additional information

Minker's Human Rights History

Department History

Papers available on-line: