Ross Overbeek

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Ross A. Overbeek
Born Traverse City, Michigan

Computer science;
mathematical logic;

Institutions Argonne National Laboratory
Alma mater Pennsylvania State University
Doctoral advisor Wilson E. Singletary
Known for automated theorem proving

Ross A. Overbeek (born May 16, 1949) is an American computer scientist with a long tenure at the Argonne National Laboratory. He has made important contributions to mathematical logic and genomics, as well as programming, particularly in database theory and the programming language Prolog.

Early life[edit]

He grew up in Traverse City, Michigan where he struck up a lifelong friendship with R. W. Bradford, publisher of the libertarian periodical Liberty. He received a B.Ph. from Grand Valley State College, an M.S. from Pennsylvania State University in 1970, and a Ph.D. in computer science from Penn State in 1971. For the next 11 years he was a computer science professor at Northern Illinois University.[1]


In the early 1970s a theorem prover named AURA, for AUtomated Reasoning Assistant, developed by Overbeek replaced one that had been the standard in the field.[2]

In 1983 he joined the Mathematics and Computer Science Division of Argonne National Laboratory, working on automated theorem proving, logic programming, and parallel computation. In the 1980s he became interested in applying logic programming to molecular biology, and he was appointed to the Joint Information Task Force, a working group established to advise the National Institutes of Health and United States Department of Energy on the computational requirements of the Human Genome Initiative.[1] He has helped develop multiple genomic databases including PUMA, WIT, ERGO, and SEED.[3]

In 1998, Overbeek was one of several scientists who co-founded the company Integrated Genomics, Inc. with CEO Michael Fonstein. The company makes the ERGO database and analytics system.[4]

In 2003, he co-founded the Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes (FIG), a non-profit organization that coordinates the development of bioinformatics tools and comparative genomics research.[5] In 2004, the FIG partnered with the Computation Institute, a joint Argonne Lab and University of Chicago institution, to establish the National Microbial Pathogen Data Resource Center with an $18 million federal grant.[6]

Published works[edit]

  • American National Standard COBOL. with Wilson E. Singletary. 1975. ISBN 978-0070574694. 
  • Assembler language with ASSIST. 1983. ISBN 978-0574214355. 
  • Automated Reasoning: Introduction and Applications. with Larry Wos, Ewing Lusk, and Jim Boyle. 1984. ISBN 978-0130544469. 


  1. ^ a b Leon Sterling (1990). The Practice of Prolog. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-19301-9. 
  2. ^ D. W. Loveland (1984). "Automated Theorem Proving: A Quarter-Century Review". Contemporary Mathematics: Proceedings of the Special Session on Automatic Theorem Proving, 89th Annual Meeting of the American Mathematical Society, held in Denver, Colorado, January 5–9, 1983 29. American Mathematical Society. ISBN 0-8218-5027-X. "The advocates of the resolution approach have by no means been quiescent during the 1970s. About 1972, the theorem prover of Wos, Robinson and Carson was replaced by one developed by Ross Overbeek. The system has continued to develop with contributions from S. Winker, E. Lusk, B. Smith and L. Wos. The system has been named AURA, for AUtomated Reasoning Assistant.... AURA is now viewed by its originators as a useful research tool for solving open problems subject to precise axiomatic formulations." 
  3. ^ "Speaker Information". The Institute of Bioinformatics. 2005. Archived from the original on 2007-08-10. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  4. ^ "Michael Fonstein, CEO of Integrated Genomics Inc., Wins KPMG Award". Integrated Genomics, Inc. November 20, 2000. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 
  5. ^ "Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes". Retrieved 2007-11-24. 
  6. ^ "$18 million bioinformatics center to become weapon against deadly diseases". Argonne National Laboratory. September 3, 2004. Retrieved 2007-11-25. 

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