It is with great sadness that the Department of Computer Science reports the loss of Dr. Herb Gelernter, Professor Emeritus of Computer Science. Herb, a founding member of the department, passed away May 28, 2015.

Gelernter's research encompassed the areas of theoretical physics, artificial intelligence, expert systems, and machine learning. Gelernter earned his PhD from the University of Rochester in 1957 and was a faculty member at Stony Brook University for over 30 years, from 1966-1997. During his tenure at SBU, his most ambitious effort was the SYNCHEM expert problem-solving system for the discovery of potential routes to the total synthesis of organic molecules through a self-guided intelligent search and application of its large knowledge base of graph transforms, rules and sophisticated heuristics representing organic reactions organized around recognized groups. In 1958, as a pioneer in artificial intelligence, Gelernter teamed with Nathaniel Rochester to consider the case of a machine that can prove theorems in elementary Euclidean plane geometry. In that study, the device relied on rudimentary mathematics and "ingenuity" at the level of a "clever" high school student. 

Please use this page to record your fond memories of Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, Herb Gelernter. (Closed for comments)

Everyone in the department speaks highly of Dr. Gelernter. He was a true pioneer in computer science at Stony Brook University.

Herb will be greatly missed by his colleagues in the department, the many students who benefited from his great wisdom, and the entire Stony Brook community.

Herb was a gentleman, a scholar, and an intellectual anchor for the Department. I chose to accept a position at Stony Brook in 1970 largely based on the reputations of the faculty members who had joined earlier. Herb's name stood out and his research and participation in Departmental affairs fully justified what I'd heard.

Having worked with Herb from 1981-88 and 1998-2002, I credit him with the development of my career in the computer field from a start as an organic chemist. Fran (who has also passed) and I enjoyed his and Ruth's gracious company in travel and dining.

I was an undergraduate in the department (1972-1976) and I worked on the SYNCHEM project with Prof. Gelernter. He was a great person to work for -- very intelligent and kind. He was also a good leader -- the Synchem group worked very well together. My experience with Prof. Gelernter helped to choose a career in computational chemistry and biology.