Amir Pnueli Memories

A look into the January 2010 CACM issue tells me that Amir Pnueli has died end of last year.

He - or more precisely his work on Temporal Logic - had an huge influence on me, in particular when I wrote my Ph.D. thesis back in the early 90ies. It was about formal descriptions for distributed systems and temporal logic seemed to be a much more feasible and practical approach than other mainstream models.

So I read Pnueli's book back and forth until I understood the gist of it all. And then to modify the formalism to integrate features of process algebras (in particular the merging of protocols) and the concept of reactivity. I now realize that Pnueli (and Manna) have been working on that too.

Marktoberdorf Experience

During that time I also attended the Marktoberdorf Summer School.

While I was a complete amateur among highly trained and specialized other Ph.D. students, I immensely enjoyed the experience and got a bunch of new ideas for my thesis. Pnueli was one of the lecturers there, together with C.A.R. Hoare and other luminaries at that time. Very interesting stuff was presented there.

One afternoon - it was incredibly hot in the lecture room - Pnueli gave one of his power talks: Two old-style overhead projectors, one for each hand. Alternatingly he flipped the foils so that you could hardly look at them. He was sweating heavily in the heat, we in the audience could hardly manage to stay in our seats.

In the middle of the lecture I noticed something odd in the slides, but did not care to interrupt the flow. When Pnueli's beatings finally stopped, he politely asked whether there were questions. Of course there was only exhausted silence. So I dared to ask about the oddity on slide 84.

Pnueli just looked at me for several seconds. Then he simply responded:

"Who cares."

After a stunned silence, the room filled with laughter. And I think I eventually laughed too :-)

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I just wanted to say that I liked this one. I'm not sure I could explain why, but I did.

Lars Marius Garshol (not verified) | Sat, 01/23/2010 - 00:10