This page is about me. There is another page for folks who go in for ancestral stuff.

Click on the small pictures to see larger versions.


London, May 1944, the month in which I was born. When I was small, I thought that "city" meant "big place with lots of ruined buildings and bomb craters". Hard to believe.

The picture on the left was taken in about 1947. I do not have a clear recollection of it being taken. Anyway, I am larger now.


Part of the school photograph (Forest School, London, E17) for 1954. That's me, aged 10, in the middle. I was already considered a bit geeky by by peers because I liked maths and hated soccer — having discovered that you can do maths without getting cold, muddy, wet, and bruised all over. Here are some reminiscences.

I enjoy sailing now but it seems that I was less enthusiastic in earlier times.

Most of my sailing was on rivers but I have sailed in the North Sea and the English Channel. The photo shows my grandfather's (later my uncle's) 48 foot auxiliary ketch, Sonia (1895-1965 RIP).

Another photo of the beautiful ketch, Sonia, here laid up at Iken (Suffolk) in the winter.

My interest in computers emerged early. The picture shows my first attempt at building one, probably around 1958. It evaluated definite integrals to two decimal digits on a good day. My second computer was intended to solve second-order differential equations but it never got finished. Thus I learned the "second-system effect" at an early age (see Chapter 5 of The Mythical Man-Month by Frederick P. Brooks, Jr.).

Mechanical systems became boring after a while, so I switched to electronics. If there seem to be rather too many inductors, it is because I was experimenting with saturable reactors, an ancient and outdated technique for amplifying AC using a DC control signal.

The monster at rear left is the famous Williamson amplifier, designed in 1947. This particular instance was built by my uncle in about 1955. On the right is a powewr supply, consisting of a rather hefty looking transformer, a twin diode value (tube) to rectify its output, and a choke (inductor) and capacitor to smooth the resulting mess. The diode eventually developed a leak and fluoresced spectacularly before blowing up.


Surfing in Newquay, Cornwall, 1960. My father made and sold the surfboards.

Larking about with my brother and his new camera.

I obtained my bachelor's degree, in mathematics, from Queens' College, Cambridge. The photo shows the Mathematical Bridge that joins the two parts of Queens'. It's a nice picture but, alas, I didn't take it. The apostrophe in Queens' comes after the 's' because several queens were involved in founding the college.

Here I am punting past the Mathematical Bridge; the photo was taken by my brother Roger many years after I graduated.

Smoking-jackets, port, and cigars — decadent Cambridge days and nights, 1964.

Although I was supposed to be studying (or "reading", as they say in Cambridge) mathematics, I devoted far too much of my time to other activities, including theatre and film. I ran the Film Society (which watched films) for a year and the Film Unit (which tried to make films) for two years.

One of the last movies I worked on was The Sea Change directed by Carey (son of Rex) Harrison with Larry (son of Roy) Boulting doing the lighting and Francis (son of Lord) Plowden as the gopher. I operated the camera, which was a 16mm Auricon with a 10:1 Angenieux zoom lens. A 10:1 zoom seemed rather exotic in 1964, but is commonplace now.

In the summer of 1964, I worked on the lighting for Cymbeline at the Minack Theatre in Cornwall.

The theatre was carved out of the cliffside during the 1920s by Rowena Cade, working almost entirely by herself.

Between 1963 and 1978, I used a variety of computers, some of which look pretty weird nowadays. This is EDSAC 2, child of EDSAC, the first stored-program computer ever built. Both were built under the direction of Maurice Wilkes at Cambridge and, as an undergraduate, I took Wilkes's course and wrote a sorting program for EDSAC 2. It was hard to get time on EDSAC 2 because Fred Hoyle always seemed to be doing astrophysics calculations with it.

After graduating, I was invited to the Cardiff Commonwealth Arts Festival by Bill Harpe. My job was Administrative Director of the Film Festival. The Director was Harley Jones (on my right in the photo) who was working with John Grierson at that time.

During the festival, I got to have lunch with Prince Philip — and a few hundred other people. We were given strict instructions not to contradict dukes, however fatuous their remarks. When I did, his entourage cringed and paled, but Phil seemed to be rather pleased to be corrected for once.

My second job involved using a noisy Monroe calculator to analyse the results of a pattern classification program (this was 1966 — nowadays it would be called a "neural network"). Using a calculator to analyse computer output was boring and stupid, so I wrote a program to do it instead, and so became a programmer (you didn't need certification back then).

The program that I wrote ran on an IBM 7094, several tons of machinery with 32K words of memory. We used the 7094 at IBM's Newman Street office in London; I don't know where the one in the picture is. It was hard to get time on the 7094 because Fred Hoyle always seemed to be doing astrophysics calculations with it (presumably, EDSAC 2 had become too slow for him).

I gained extensive experience with IBM 029 card-punch machines while using the 7094; this card even has my name on it.

By 1966, we had low-resolution (64 x 64 x 4 bit) images and one of the first Calcomp plotters, but no software to create images. I wrote a program that rendered each pixel as a squiggly line and used it to produce the first computer image of myself.

1967 was my year of wandering. Here I am on the after-deck of the Castel Felice, leaving Papeete en route for Panama in 1967. Small world note: 20 years laters, I rented a room from the erstwhile purser of the Castel Felice in his home town, Galaxidi, in Greece.

The Disneyland artist asked me what I liked doing, and I said "playing the piano", although "struggling with" would have been more accurate.

I worked for ICL for a time, adding further confusion to their George 3 operating system. What other company would name its OS after a mad king? We ran tests on an ICL 1907, similar to the one shown here.

After leaving ICL, I did some consulting for a small engineering company in Victoria, London. I wrote FORTRAN programs and tested them on the CDC 6600 in Victoria Square.

In 1969, I serendipitously drifted into electronic music. In fact, I had been interested in electronic music since my teens, when I listened to a series of radio programs given by Tristram Cary (1925-2008, RIP) and talked my parents into buying me a tape-recorder.

By a series of coincidences, I ended up at Electronic Music Studios. Peter Zinovieff owned the studio and (small world!) Tristram Cary was on the board of directors — as was I, briefly. I wrote a music synthesis program called MUSYS.


In 1971, I needed a new typewriter. The Olivetti Praxis seemed the only sensible choice. I had the silly fraction keys changed to useful ASCII symbols. Unfortunately, it was stolen: one of the big losses of my life. Green-eyed Beauty

This is a CDC 6600 console. When I joined Concordia University in 1976, the mainframe was a CDC 6400, a poor relation of the 6600 but with a similar console.

I wrote a book about Pascal, first published in 1978. The second edition, shown here, appeared in 1984. It sold zillions of copies and was translated into eight languages. Thank you, Addison-Wesley!

More book covers.

Some time around 1979, I used the proceeds of the Pascal book to buy my first computer. The gear includes:

The software was Gary Kildall's DOS (before Bill Gate's took it and ruined it). The most remarkable piece of software was a Pascal compiler, which was complete and error free though rather slow. I wrote my own LISP system in assembly language, and designed my own Greek fonts so that I could print mathematics on the dot-matrix printer. Those were the days!

Here is André Cusson's audio/video studio. There is an EMS VCS-3 hiding behind the mixer on the left. Beyond that is an early video synthesizer, also built by EMS. You don't hear much about "late" video synthesizers, probably because we now call the field "computer graphics". Front right is a classic Fender-Rhodes — a piano made of amplified tuning forks.

MUSYS (see above) evolved into Mouse, the subject of a Byte article in 1979, and Mouse eventually became a book, published by the late and lamented Petrocelli Publishers in 1983.

More book covers.


I gave up movies and, some years later, switched to 35mm photography. The photo at right shows me with my Canon A-1. I used an Olympus IS-1 for a while; it was great for travelling. Then, I sold both cameras and bought a Canon Rebel 2000 with a 28-135mm USM zoom with image stabilizer. A few years ago, I switched to digital photography with a Canon XTi. In 2010, I upgraded to a T2i (aka 550D). The T2i shoots HD video as well, so I'm back to making movies again.

A photograph taken by someone else for purely professional reasons.

My second computer system: a Compaq with an Epson dot-matrix printer and a Diablo daisy-wheel printer.

Paddling off into the deep blue yonder.

Some time during the late 1980s, I started to appreciate the dangers of growing fat and lazy. So, a couple of times a week, you would have found me at the Somerled Billiard Academy working out with a snooker cue. (In June 2000, sadly, the Academy closed down after almost 50 years of continuous operation.)

A snooker lesson from Alain Robidoux.

My present job involves research, teaching, and administration. Of these, I think I am best at teaching, although research is sometimes more fun. This photo shows me in my office in Concordia's Hall building during one of my overweight periods — late 1980s?


The King, at Seymour Segal's Christmas Party, December 1992.

Another book, this one on Ric Holt's language Turing, came out in 1995. It didn't sell as well as the Pascal book, but Turing was not as popular as Pasal.

More book covers.

Convocation with Patrice Chalin, Ph.D., my first doctoral student. June, 1996. Patrice was awarded the Doctoral Prize in Engineering for 1997.

In 1998, I received the first Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence. Dean Nabil Esmail, Dean of Engineering and Computer Science, hands over the loot, with other dignitaries sitting behind.

On sabbatical in Finland, with Markku Sakkinen and Sharon, 1999.

One of the nicer aspects of being a professor is that your students eventually graduate . . . . and get interesting jobs.

Cosmin Mandachescu attended my graphics course and subsequently joined Genicom Consultants where they use Virtual Reality equipment.

Consequently, I spent a delightful morning exploring aircraft cabins, control towers, and more -probably looking pretty stupid to bystanders.


Participated in Spencer Tunick's "installation", May 2001.

Promotion to Full Professor, 2004. ("Full of what?", as Elaine Newman used to say.)

At convocation with Bo Lu, Ph.D., 2004.

With Sharon at the ECA Ball (we're not the only guests — we just arrived early).

Celebrating 20 years (1985-2005) of service with Roger and Sheryl Kenner. (I actually started working at Concordia University in 1976, but resigned to do a PhD in 1980.)

Receiving the award from Chancellor Eric Molson.

Spouting rubbish at CUSEC 2006.

Accepting the first President's Award for Teaching Excellence in July 2007: here's a rather inaccurate article about the event.

Working on a new project with my old friend, Brian Shearing. We met at Queens' College (see above).

Answering a question at CUSEC 2008.

Talking about our new project at C3S2E, Montreal, May 2008.

Hadi Sawaya, me, and Joseph Khater at the COEN 490 presentations, April 2009. They modestly described their project as "simulating the universe". It's hard to recognize students when they wear suits.

With Clement Lam at my 65th birthday party, May 2009.

Vašek Chvátal and Tom Litttledeer at my 65th birthday party, May 2009.

Although EMS (see above) has been defunct for many years, its products have become a cult. Here is Leo Learchi of Milan with a trio of Synthis ...

... and Bostich of Nortec has one, too.


In March 2010, I spoke about software and society to the Engineering and Computer Science Alumni Chapter (ECAC) as part of the Engineering Week festivities.

This was taken at one of our frequent stops during a glorious drive through the Peak District, UK, in the early evening, August, 2010.

At last, I'm a father! Even better, a "founding" father. CUSEC, 2011.

Convocation, June 2013. Sudhir Mudur (Chair, CSE), Leonard Kleinrock (Hon Doc), Robin Drew (Dean, ENCS), PG (Acting Chair, CSE).

Convocation, June 2013. Leonard Kleinrock gets his honorary doctorate.

Convocation, June 2013. Should I run off with the mace?

Convocation, June 2013. The pleasure of giving ...

Convocation, June 2013. My student, Miao Song, Ph.D. (Special Individual Program).

Giving a slightly fuzzy presentation of Nima Jafroodi's work at CBSE at UBC. June, 2013.

Surf the web or grind the pepper? A nice picture by a nice guy — David Boroditsky. June, 2013.

At the ENCS Cocktail Party with Deborah Dysart-Gale. Homecoming, October, 2013.

Philomène Longpré receives her Ph.D. from the Special Individual Program, November, 2013. Ion Stiharu, P.G., Bill Vorn (supervisor), Philomène, Robert Saucier, David Howes, Brad Nelson.

Dinner with the Chinese Consul of Montreal (on my right) arranged by Miao Song (on my left), February 2014.

Maryam Zakeryfar receives her Ph.D. in Computer Science, March 2014. Olga Ormandjieva, Shruti Rathee, Weichang Du, Maryam, Deborah Dysart-Gale, me, Joey Paquet, Mourad Debbabi.

70th birthday party at Restaurant Fay Wong, May 2014.

Retirement party, June 2014, with Sudhir Mudur, Chair, CSE.

Pretending to be a photographer in Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 2014. Photo by Stella McNeil.


Old information is approximate; I know I won something, but the details are a bit hazy.

More coming soon . . . .