George E. Collins

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George E. Collins (January 10, 1928, Stuart, Iowa – November 21, 2017, Madison, Wisconsin)[1] was an American mathematician and computer scientist. He is the inventor of garbage collection by reference counting[G60][2] and of the method of quantifier elimination by cylindrical algebraic decomposition.[G75][3]

He received his PhD from Cornell University in 1955.[4] He worked at IBM, UW-Madison (1966–1986) Ohio State, RISC-Linz, Delaware, and North Carolina State.[1]

Selected publications[edit]

G60. George E. Collins: A Method for Overlapping and Erasure of Lists, Commun. ACM, volume 3, number 12, 1960.
G75. George E. Collins: Quantifier elimination for the elementary theory of real closed fields by cylindrical algebraic decomposition, Second GI Conf. Automata Theory and Formal Languages, Springer LNCS 33, 1975.


  1. ^ a b In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus George E. Collins
  2. ^ Jones, Richard; Lins, Rafael (1996), Garbage collection: algorithms for automatic dynamic memory management, Wiley, p. 40, ISBN 9780471941484, The first, though cumbersome and error-prone, reference counting technique was described by J. Gelertner, J.R. Hansen, and C.L. Gerberich [Gelernter et al, 1960] but the standard reference counting algorithm is due to George Collins [Collins, 1960].
  3. ^ Caviness, Bob F.; Johnson, Jeremy R., eds. (1998), Quantifier elimination and cylindrical algebraic decomposition, Springer, p. v, ISBN 9783211827949, A symposium on Quantifier Elimination and Cylindrical Algebraic Decomposition was held October 6–8, 1993 ... the symposium celebrated the 20th anniversary of George Collins' discovery of Cylindrical Algebraic Decomposition (CAD) as a method for Quantifier Elimination (QE) for the elementary theory of real closed fields (Collins 1973b), and was devoted to the many advances in this subject since Collins' discovery.
  4. ^