Robert Dewar

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Robert Dewar
Robert Dewar.jpg
Robert Dewar
Robert Berriedale Keith Dewar

(1945-06-21)June 21, 1945
DiedJune 30, 2015(2015-06-30) (aged 70)
Known forPresident and CEO of AdaCore
Scientific career
New York University
Doctoral studentsAnita Borg[1]

Robert Berriedale Keith Dewar (June 21, 1945 – June 30, 2015) was an English-born American computer scientist and educator. He helped to develop software languages and compilers and was an outspoken advocate of freely licensed open source software. He was a founder, CEO and president of AdaCore software company. He was also an enthusiastic amateur performer and musician, especially with the Village Light Opera Group in New York City.

Early life and education[edit]

Dewar was born in Oxford, England, 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.[2][3] In 1959 he moved with his parents from England to Chicago, Illinois, when his father accepted a teaching job at the University of Chicago.[4] Dewar obtained his B.S. from the University of Chicago in 1964, and his Ph.D. in chemistry, also from the University of Chicago, in 1968.[5] He began to work with computers during graduate school.[6]


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, and becoming chair of the department.[5][6][7]

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, also serving as its CEO until 2012.[5][8] Dewar was an outspoken advocate of freely licensed open source software and an expert in copyright and patent law for software. He was in demand as a speaker at conferences and expert witness in legal actions.[5][6]

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.[9] These implementations of SNOBOL4, which quickly gained widespread popularity, are still being used today[10] In the 1970s he was a principal author of the Realia COBOL compiler,[6] also still widely used in commercial environments today (marketed by Computer Associates).[citation needed]

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.[5] He was co-director (with Edmond Schonberg) of the team at NYU that produced Ada/Ed, an interpreter for Ada 83 written in SETL[11][12] and the first Ada implementation to pass the strenuous ACVC validation suite,[13] mandated for being allowed to use the trademarked name Ada.[14]

Dewar and Schonberg went on to produce GNAT, a free-software compiler for Ada that forms part of the GNU Compiler Collection.[5] Dewar also participated in the SETL project at NYU, and co-authored the handbook Programming With Sets: An Introduction to SETL. He influenced the design of the ABC programming language, in particular its SETL-style high-level data types, such as associative arrays. Guido van Rossum, the author of the programming language Python, wrote that the use of the colon in Python is due to Dewar's wife.[15] He was also involved in the design of Algol 68.[5]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Karin Dewar, née Anderson (died 2013), and had two children, Jenny (born 1965) and Keith (born 1969), and two grandchildren.[5] Dewar was known as an engaging and witty conversationalist.[6]

Dewar played the bassoon, recorder and other musical instruments and enjoyed singing. He was an enthusiastic and valued member and benefactor of the Village Light Opera Group (VLOG) for 35 years, serving them in many capacities, from producer and president to music director, and on stage from Harem Guard to the title role in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado.[5][6][16] VLOG's Dewar Center for the Performing Arts was named in recognition of Robert and Karin Dewar's contributions.[17] He was also a member of the North American Heckelphone Society[6] and performed with other groups until only months before his death.[4]

He died of cancer at age 70 at his home in Bennington, Vermont.[4][18]


  • 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. Bibcode:2013arXiv1308.6096D.
  • 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.
  • J. T. Schwartz, R. B. K. Dewar, E. Dubinsky, and E. Schonberg (1986). Programming with Sets: An Introduction to SETL. Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-96399-5.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Robert B. K. Dewar & Matthew Smosna (1990). Microprocessors: A Programmer's View. McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-016638-7.
  • Robert B. K. Dewar (2007). "The compiler as a static analysis tool". SIGAda 2007: 83–88.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Borg, Anita (1981). Synchronizaiton Efficiency. (PhD thesis). New York University. OCLC 15102657.
  2. ^ Ford Burkhart (November 2, 1997). "Dr. Michael J. S. Dewar, 79; Research Led to Drug Advances". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Josef Michl & Marye Anne Fox (1999). "Michael J. S. Dewar". Biographical Memoirs (PDF). 77. National Academy Press. pp. 65–77. ISBN 0-309-59373-5.
  4. ^ a b c Kravetz, Daniel. "Robert Dewar 1945–2015", The Palace Peeper, The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of New York, Vol. LXXX, No. 1, September 2015, p. 3
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "AdaCore President Robert B. K. Dewar (1945-2015)", Businesswire, July 2, 2015
  6. ^ a b c d e f g "Robert B.K. Dewar: Obituary", The New York Times, July 24, 2015
  7. ^ "IIT Computer Science Pioneer Robert B.K. Dewar Passes Away", Illinois Institute of Technology, July 7, 2015
  8. ^ "Executive Team". AdaCore. Archived from the original on 2011-05-22. Retrieved 2011-05-20.; and "Interview with Robert Dewar, AdaCore President", GNAT Pro insider, Autumn/Winter 2014–2015, p. 3,, accessed June 30, 2015
  9. ^ Mark B. Emmer & Edward K. Quillen (2000) [1989]. Macro SPITBOL (PDF). Catspaw. p. 159. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-08-27. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
  10. ^ History of Programming Languages, Richard L. Wexelblat (ed.), Academic Press (2014), pp. 623–628 ISBN 1483266168
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ "Ada/Ed, an interpreter for Ada 83". Ada Home. February 10, 1998. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  13. ^ "Ada Compiler Validation Summary Report: NYU Ada/Ed, Version 19.7 V-001". SofTech, Inc., Waltham, MA. April 11, 1983. Archived from the original on 2012-03-12. Retrieved December 19, 2011.
  14. ^ "Ada Trademark Replaced by Certification Mark". Ada Information Clearinghouse. 1987. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  15. ^ Guido van Rossum (July 8, 2011). "Karin Dewar, Indentation and the Colon". The History of Python. Retrieved 2011-08-27.
  16. ^ "The Mikado opens" (Press release). Village Light Opera Group. 2008.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ The Dewar Center Handbook (PDF). Village Light Opera Group. 2008. p. 2.[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "Sad news of Prof. Robert Dewar", New York University, accessed July 1, 2015
  19. ^ Realia, Inc. (January 1983). "If you use DOS, you need this program". PC Magazine (advertisement). Ziff-Davis Publishing. 2 (9): 417. Archived from the original on 2019-04-22. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  20. ^ "Expert Report of Robert B. K. Dewar In Response To The Report Of Kenneth D. Crews". Cambridge University Press et al v. Patton et al, Filing 124, Supplemental Initial Disclosures by Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Inc., Sage Publications, Inc. - Cambridge University Press, Oxfort University Press, Inc., and Sage Publications, Inc. v. Mark P. Becker, Georgia State University President, et al, Civil Action No. 1:08-CV-1425-ODE (Court document). United States District Court For The Northern District Of Georgia, Atlanta Division. p. 18. Exhibit A. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2019-04-23. […] SPACEMAKER and TERMULATOR, commodity software for IBM PC (PC DOS file compression utility and VT-100 emulator), being marketed by Realia, Inc. R.B.K. Dewar (1982-1983), 8088 assembly language, 8,000 lines […]
  21. ^ Dewar, Robert Berriedale Keith (1984-03-13). "DOS 3.1 ASMB (Another Silly Microsoft Bug)". info-ibmpc@USC-ISIB.ARPA. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2019-04-23. […] I did write the Realia SpaceMaker program which does a similar sort of thing to […] EXEPACK […]
  22. ^ Necasek, Michal (2018-04-30). "Realia SpaceMaker". OS/2 Museum. Archived from the original on 2019-01-27. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  23. ^ Parsons, Jeff (2019-01-10). "An Update on Early Norton Utilities". PCjs. Archived from the original on 2019-01-29. Retrieved 2019-02-22.
  24. ^ Necasek, Michal (2019-01-12). "Yep, Norton Did It". OS/2 Museum. Archived from the original on 2019-04-22. Retrieved 2019-04-22.

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