Robert Dewar

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For the British diplomat, see Robert Dewar (diplomat).
Robert Dewar
Robert Dewar.jpg
Robert Dewar
Born (1945-06-21) June 21, 1945 (age 70)
Oxford, United Kingdom
Died June 30, 2015(2015-06-30) (aged 70) -->
Bennington, Vermont, United States
Nationality American
Institutions AdaCore
New York University
Alma mater University of Chicago
Known for President and CEO of AdaCore

Robert Berriedale Keith Dewar (June 21, 1945 – June 30, 2015) was an English-born American computer scientist.

Early life and education[edit]

Dewar was born in Oxford, United Kingdom, one of two sons of the theoretical chemist Michael J. S. Dewar and Mary Dewar, née Williamson, a historian and scholar of English Tudor history.[1][2] In 1959 he moved with his parents from England to Chicago, Illinois. Dewar obtained his B.S. from the University of Chicago in 1964, and his Ph.D., also from the University of Chicago, in 1968.


Dewar was first Assistant Professor of Information Science and later Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) from 1968 to 1975, before becoming Research Associate Professor of Computer Science at New York University (NYU) in 1975, where he was Full Professor of Computer Science from 1976 to 2005.

He was Chairman of IFIP Working Group 2.1 from 1978 to 1983 and Associate Director of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences from 1994 to 1997. Until his death, he was President of AdaCore, which he co-founded in 1994.[3][4]

Software contributions[edit]

While at the IIT, Dewar created the original SPITBOL compiler together with Ken Belcher in 1971, and Macro SPITBOL with Tony McCann in 1974.[5] These implementations of SNOBOL4, which quickly gained widespread popularity, are still being used today.

In the 1970s he was a principal author of the Realia COBOL compiler, widely used in commercial environments to this day (marketed by Computer Associates).

Dewar became involved with the Ada programming language from its early days as a Distinguished Reviewer of the Ada 1983 design proposed by Jean Ichbiah that was selected by the US DoD.

He was co-director (with Edmond Schonberg) of the team at NYU that produced Ada/Ed, an interpreter for Ada 83 written in SETL[6][7] and the first Ada implementation to pass the strenuous ACVC validation suite,[8] mandated for being allowed to use the trademarked name Ada.

Dewar and Schonberg went on to produce GNAT, a free-software compiler for Ada that forms part of the GNU Compiler Collection.

Dewar also participated in the SETL project at NYU, and co-authored the handbook Programming With Sets: An Introduction to SETL. He also influenced the design of the ABC programming language, in particular its SETL-style high-level data types, such as associative arrays.

According to a 2011 blog entry by Guido van Rossum, the author of Python, the use of the colon in Python is due to Dewar's wife.[9]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Karin Dewar (d. 2013), née Anderson, and had two children, Jenny (b. 1965) and Keith (b. 1969).

Dewar was involved with the Village Light Opera Group (VLOG) for 35 years in many capacities, from producer to president, from fly master to music director, and on stage from Harem Guard to the title role in The Mikado.[10] VLOG's Dewar Center for the Performing Arts was named in recognition of Robert and Karin Dewar's contributions.[11]

He died near Bennington, Vermont, where he had a home.[12]


  • Robert B. K. Dewar (June 1975). "Indirect Threaded Code". Communications of the ACM 18 (6): 330–331. doi:10.1145/360825.360849. 
  • Robert B. K. Dewar; Anthony P. McCann (1977). "MACRO SPITBOL - a SNOBOL4 Compiler". Software - Practice and Experience 7: 95–113. doi:10.1002/spe.4380070106. 
  • Robert B. K. Dewar; Martin Charles Golumbic; Clinton F. Goss (August 2013) [First published October 1979]. MICRO SPITBOL. Computer Science Department Technical Report. No. 11. Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. arXiv:1308.6096. 
  • Robert B. K. Dewar; Anthony P. McCann (1979). MINIMAL - A Machine Independent Assembly Language. Computer Science Department Technical Report. No. 12. Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. 
  • Martin Charles Golumbic; Robert B. K. Dewar; Clinton F. Goss (1980). "Macro Substitutions in MICRO SPITBOL - a Combinatorial Analysis". Proc. 11th Southeastern Conference on Combinatorics, Graph Theory and Computing, Congressus Numerantium, Utilitas Math., Winnipeg, Canada 29: 485–495. 
  • Robert B. K. Dewar (2007). "The compiler as a static analysis tool". SIGAda 2007: 83–88. 


  1. ^ Ford Burkhart (November 2, 1997). "Dr. Michael J. S. Dewar, 79; Research Led to Drug Advances". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ Josef Michl and Marye Anne Fox (1999). "Michael J. S. Dewar". Biographical Memoirs (PDF) 77. National Academy Press. pp. 65–77. ISBN 0-309-59373-5. 
  3. ^ "Executive Team". AdaCore. 
  4. ^ "Interview with Robert Dewar, AdaCore President", GNAT Pro insider, Autumn/Winter 2014–2015, p. 3,, accessed June 30, 2015
  5. ^ Mark B. Emmer and Edward K. Quillen (2000) [1989]. Macro SPITBOL (PDF). Catspaw. p. 159. 
  6. ^ Dewar, Robert B. K.; Fisher Jr., Gerald A.; Schonberg, Edmond; Froelich, Robert; Bryant, Stephen; Goss, Clinton F.; Burke, Michael (November 1980). "The NYU Ada Translator and Interpreter". ACM SIGPLAN Notices – Proceedings of the ACM-SIGPLAN Symposium on the Ada Programming Language 15 (11): 194–201. doi:10.1145/948632.948659. ISBN 0-89791-030-3. 
  7. ^ "Ada/Ed, an interpreter for Ada 83". Ada Home. February 10, 1998. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Ada Compiler Validation Summary Report: NYU Ada/Ed, Version 19.7 V-001". SofTech, Inc., Waltham, MA. April 11, 1983. Retrieved December 19, 2011. 
  9. ^ Guido van Rossum (July 8, 2011). "Karin Dewar, Indentation and the Colon". The History of Python. Retrieved 2011-08-27. 
  10. ^ "The Mikado opens" (Press release). Village Light Opera Group. 2008. 
  11. ^ The Dewar Center Handbook (PDF). Village Light Opera Group. 2008. p. 2. 
  12. ^ "Sad news of Prof. Robert Dewar", New York University, accessed July 1, 2015

External links[edit]