Daniel G. Bobrow

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Daniel Gureasko Bobrow (29 November 1935 – 20 March 2017) was an American computer scientist who was a Research Fellow in the Intelligent Systems Laboratory of the Palo Alto Research Center and created an oft-cited artificial intelligence program STUDENT, with which he earned his PhD.[1][2][3]

As part of the team which originally designed and utilized the first graphical user interface at Xerox PARC, his contributions included the invention of the pull down or drop down menu concept which was later copied by Apple, Microsoft and others. He was also one of the original inventors of Logo, a simple programming language. He was also part of inventing Colab, which allowed more than one user in a group to add to a shared collaborative effort on a larger screen viewable simultaneously by several users.

His very first construction was an honorable mention at the Bronx High School of Science (which he graduated from) which helped him get a scholarship to RPI (which he took) and a fellowship to MIT (where he later got his doctorate - one of if not the first computer programming degrees in that the degree "Computer Programming" did not yet exist and his doctorate was in applied mathematics but was essentially a thesis on how a computer program could interpret written English and translate it into pure mathematics using mathematical word problems). This dual focus of pure computer programming research into both mathematics (for the computer) and linguistics (for the human) was a theme throughout his career that eventually led to the invention of Powerset, which was an invention at PARC that later spun off and got purchased by Microsoft and renamed Bing, Microsoft's search engine. It was originally designed as Powerset to compete with google in that instead of returning results to a query based on text matching, it was supposed to analyze the query's actual meaning so that it could return links predicted to be more intelligently inline with the user's intended question, linguistically. Unfortunately, Microsoft bagged the idea in favor of older google type searching, but the quest for artificial intelligence continued on at PARC and may one day lead to better communication between the user and the internet.

The high school science project which got him the honorable mention was a recreation of a "Difference Engine" which his father, Jacob Bobrow, helped him build as there were many colors of wires and his son, Danny, was colorblind (green and red both appeared more gray). The directions were ordered from General Electric and the primitive "computer" was a calculator for Boolean logic (And, Not and Or). After his doctorate, he worked first at BBN for 10 years when they bid on and won the ARPA (now DARPA) contract to create the beginnings of the first internet (the ARPANET). He later worked at Xerox PARC where the first Ethernet and GUI were invented and for the remainder of his life (over 40 more years) he did research for Xerox PARC (later PARC, as they became independent of Xerox in 2002).

Born in New York City, he earned his BS from RPI in 1957, SM from Harvard in 1958, and PhD in Mathematics from MIT under the supervision of Marvin Minsky in 1964.

He was a developer of TENEX.[4][5]

Dr. Bobrow was the President of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), chair of the Cognitive Science Society, Editor-in-chief of the journal Artificial Intelligence. He shared the 1992 ACM Software Systems Award for his work on Interlisp.[6] He was an ACM Fellow and an AAAI fellow.

He published books and many research articles. Books he co-authored include The Calculus of Chemistry and The Art of the Metaobject Protocol.

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