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Stavros Macrakis, Ph.D.[edit]

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Cambridge, Massachusetts

I've worked in software for over 30 years, in a variety of areas: Macsyma, a computer algebra system, and now on its open-source version Maxima; on Lisp language implementation and design; on Ada language design and compilers; on programming language design in general; on operating system kernels; on an architecture-neutral distribution format; on database management systems; on enterprise storage systems; on Web infrastructure software; on Web search, etc. My dissertation was on the design of programming languages.

I have a variety of other interests.

I'm interested in linguistics and languages, especially English, Greek (fluent in modern, rusty in ancient), French (fluent), Italian (good), Latin, Arabic, and Turkish (including Ottoman).

I'm interested in encyclopedias both for their form and their content, and have in my personal collection several English, French, and Greek encyclopedias from the 19th and 20th centuries.

I'm interested in architecture and design of various periods, and have a collection of kilims.

I enjoy eating and cooking, so have a library of cookbooks and books on food.

Wikipedia has tremendous potential, but it is discouraging to see how much effort we have to spend to deal with mindless vandalism, puerile boosterism and nationalism, and crank POV-pushing. It is also time-consuming to correct well-meaning but ill-informed enthusiasts, and to try to educate people about good research practices, but at least there you feel you're acting in an educational role.

I'm interested in the history of food, and contribute to WikiProject Food and drink. There is a lot of folklore and invention around the history of food, so it's especially important to have reliable sources, not just cookbooks and certainly not random Web pages, which is why I started the page on sources for food history. It's also important to maintain a neutral point of view in food history articles, and not uncritically adopt such terms as "original", "authentic", "traditional", etc. to describe foods and recipes; see my essay "Original", "traditional", "authentic", and other distracting terminology for some further thoughts.

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