2011 Memorial Achievement Award

The CS @ Illinois Memorial Achievement Award is bestowed posthumously on those alumni, students, or faculty whose lives were characterized by remarkable achievement and accomplishment in computer science. The award is presented at the CS @ Illinois Awards Banquet.

Nominations for the Memorial Achievement Award are solicited annually from alumni, faculty, and advisory board members. Nominate a fellow alumnus or faculty member today at my.cs.illinois.edu/submit.


Donald B. Gillies

University of Illinois computer science professor Donald B. Gillies, a native of Canada, did his undergraduate work at the University of Toronto, and received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton University in 1953. While in graduate school he worked as a graduate assistant at the Institute for Advanced Study with John von Neumann in the fields of game theory and computer science. Before coming to the University of Illinois in 1956, he spent two years with the National Research Development Corporation at Cambridge University and London, England. He was among the first mathematicians to become involved in the computer field, helping to program the first Sputnik orbit and later discovering three new prime numbers in the course of checking out Illiac II. Before his death in 1975, he was experimenting with educational uses and networking possibilities of minicomputers.

Professor Gillies was an inspiration to his students, taking an interest in both their professional and personal lives. Long before timesharing terminals, minicomputers and microprocessors made “hands on” computer experience commonplace, he recognized the need for students to have this opportunity and implemented a system to provide it. Throughout his work and teaching he stressed the importance of the ethical use of computing machines in contemporary science. Dedicated to the honest uses of technology, environmentally concerned, a man of wit, vigor and understanding, he challenged and stimulated all who knew him.

The Donald B. Gillies Lectureship in Computer Science was established in the department of computer science in remembrance of his legacy. The lectureship continues to enrich the lives of students and colleagues as an appropriate memorial to a man whose intellectual excellence and moral purpose made him a distinguished teacher and scientist.


Erich Hauptmann

Erich William Hauptmann, 25, received a B.S. degree in Computer Science in 2008. His employment with Digital Domain, the award-winning special effects studio in Venice, CA was a dream come true for him.

He worked on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, GI JOE: The Rise of Cobra, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek, Speed Racer, and 2012. He is credited as Technical Assistant for Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Shortly before his death he was promoted to Assistant Technical Director of the Commercials division and participated in the production of the first 3D cinema spots ever created for a consumer electronic brand, the Samsung LED TV.

One of Erich’s managers said: “Erich was able to cross the line between artist and engineer, teacher and student, colleague and friend. ... [He] earned the respect of his colleagues by his sheer motivation, proving that he could tackle any problem thrown his way, no matter how difficult.”


Saburo Muroga

University of Illinois computer science professor emeritus was one of Japan’s computer pioneers and a globally significant leader in the extensive field of information processing, and he taught and mentored generations of computer science researchers.
Professor Muroga was a pioneer in threshold logic, and was the author of the classic book on the topic “Threshold Logic and Its Applications”, published in 1971. The book enjoyed a renewed interest in recent years, as researchers of neural networks recognized its relevance to their field as well.

Muroga’s research in threshold logic was directed at minimizing the complexity of networks that would still be able to support high-level performance by, for example, minimizing the number of logic gates, interconnections among gates, or number of levels in a logic circuit. His revolutionary thinking led also to the creation of the ‘transduction method’, representing a new method for simplifying logic circuits based on permissible functions. The transduction method was adopted by major CAD companies and is now considered an industry standard.

Muroga also published widely on improving design automation using mathematical approaches and computer-aided design of VLSI chips.

In addition to his revolutionary research, Muroga was well-known for his mentorship of students. Many of his former students have had highly successful careers in industry, serving as executives and chief executives at companies including Dell Computer, Sun Microsystems, Silicon Graphics, Toshiba, United Microelectronics, and more.