Dennis Elliot Shasha is a professor of computer science at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, a division of New York University. His current areas of research include work done with biologists on pattern discovery for microarrays, combinatorial design, network inference, and protein docking; work done with physicists, musicians, and professionals in finance on algorithms for time series; and work on database applications in untrusted environments. Other areas of interest include database tuning as well as tree and graph matching.
After graduating from Yale in 1977, he worked for IBM designing circuits and microcode for the IBM 3090. While at IBM, he earned his M.Sc. from Syracuse University in 1980. He completed his Ph.D. in applied mathematics at Harvard in 1984 (thesis advisor: Nat Goodman). Professor Shasha is a prolific author, researcher, tango dancer, climber, and public speaker. He has written six books of puzzles, five of which center on the work of a mathematical detective by the name of Jacob Ecco, a biography about great computer scientists (coauthored by freelance journalist Cathy Lazere), and technical books relating to his various areas of research. In his non-academic writings, perhaps his greatest invention is the notion of omniheuristics, a kind of super-heuristics concerned with the ability to solve any and all manner of puzzles, conundrums, enigmas, and dilimmas. Owing their decidedly curious character, he has given particular note to puzzles that start off easy, but have apparently innocent variants that are particularly perplexing; he calls them 'upstarts'.
Professor Shasha has written monthly puzzle columns for Scientific American and Dr. Dobb's Journal. He lives in New York with his wife, Karen, his daughter, Cloe, and his son, Tyler. His son Tyler was a prolific basketball player in New York City before he went to the University of Southern California. Tyler currently resides in Los Angeles, California. His son is six foot three despite Dennis's five foot seven stature. His daughter, Cloe, is currently working for Technology Entertainment Design and lives in Brooklyn, New York. Unfortunately, she is only five foot three.
Dr. Ecco Mysteries
- The Puzzling Adventures of Dr. Ecco - (1988, Freeman, and republished in 1998 by Dover),
- Codes, Puzzles, and Conspiracy - (1992, Freeman, republished in 2004 by Dover as Dr. Ecco: Mathematical Detective),
- Dr. Ecco's Cyberpuzzles - (2002, W. W. Norton),
- Puzzling Adventures - (2005, W. W. Norton),
- The Puzzler's Elusion - (2006, Avalon Publishing),
- Out of their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries of 15 Great Computer Scientists - (1998, Springer)
- Database Tuning: Principles, Experiments, and Troubleshooting Techniques - (2002, Morgan Kauffmann)
- Puzzles for Programmers and Pros - (2007, Wrox)
- Red Blues: Voices from the Last Wave of Russian Immigrants - (Holmes & Meier, 2002)
- Iraq's Last Jews: Stories of Daily Life, Upheaval, and Escape from Modern Babylon - (2008, Palgrave Macmillan)