Inventor of the First AI System That Could Read Handwriting Dies at 72

IEEE also mourns the loss of other members

3 min read

Sargur “Hari” Srihari

Pioneer of computational forensics

Life Fellow, 72; died 8 March

A photo of a man in a dark jacket in glasses.  University at Buffalo

Srihari helped create an artificial intelligence system in 1991 that enabled machines to read handwritten letters. The U.S. Postal Service still uses the system to sort mail. Srihari was a pioneer in the field of computational forensics who in 2002 developed CEDAR-FOX, a software system that identifies people through their handwriting.

He was a professor of computer science and engineering for more than 40 years. He taught at the State University of New York as well as theUniversity of Buffalo, where he founded its Center of Excellence for Document Analysis and Recognition. The faculty and students use the CEDAR research lab to work on technologies involving pattern recognition, machine learning, data mining, information retrieval, and computational linguistics.

It was at CEDAR where Srihari helped develop the AI system. The U.S. Postal Service provided the program with more than US $60 million in funding during the project’s 25 years.

In 2002 Srihari created CEDAR-FOX, which has been updated to allow the system to identify people through their fingerprints and shoe prints.

Srihari held seven U.S. patents.

Because of his expertise, Srihari was asked in 2007 to serve on the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ committee on identifying the needs of the forensic science community, the only computer scientist on the body. It produced a report in 2009 about how the U.S. criminal justice system could strengthen its use of forensic science.

Srihari received bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics in 1967 from Bangalore University in India. He also earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical communication engineering in 1970 from the Indian Institute of Science, in Bangalore. Srihari went on to earn a Ph.D. in computer and information science in 1976 from Ohio State University, in Columbus.

Charles H. Gager

Former head of Mitre’s space surveillance systems

Member, 91; died 24 March

Gager joined the research and engineering division of AIL, in St. James, N.Y., in 1951. There he conducted research in radar techniques and helped develop technologies such as moving-target identification equipment, monopulse radar, and high-resolution radar.

He left the company in 1979 to join The Mitre Corp. in McLean, Va., where he helped develop surveillance sensors and technology for electronic warfare and tactical defense measures. He was promoted in 1984 to head the company’s space surveillance systems department.

After he retired, he and his wife moved to Norwell, Mass., and he became an active IEEE volunteer. He also taught a course about the history and evolution of U.S. intelligence operations for Harvard’s Institute for Learning in Retirement.

Gager received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1950 from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now the New York University Tandon School of Engineering).

Thomas K. Ishii

Founder of the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society’s Milwaukee Section

Life member, 94; died 27 December

Ishii was an active IEEE volunteer who established the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society Milwaukee Section. He served as an associate editor ofIEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems from 1989 to 1991.

He served as a consultant for several companies including Wisconsin Electric Power, Honeywell, and Johnson Controls, as well as a number of law firms.

Ishii received a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in engineering from Nihon University, in Tokyo. He stayed on as an electrical engineering professor after graduating in 1950. He left six years later to pursue a second master’s degree and a doctorate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He graduated in 1959 and joined Marquette University, in Milwaukee, as a professor. He retired in 1998 and was named professor emeritus.

He held two U.S. patents and three Japanese patents for microwave devices.

Ishii was honored with several awards including the 2000 IEEE Millennium Medal, the 1984 IEEE Centennial Medal, and the 1969 T.C. Burnum IEEE Milwaukee Section Memorial Award.

Leland Ross Megargel

Electrical engineer

Life member, 93; died 13 November

Megargel worked as an electrical engineer for several companies including General Electric, Valley Forge, and International Signal and Control.

After graduating in 1945 from Lake Ariel Consolidated School, in Pennsylvania, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Japan and helped with the country’s reconstruction projects following World War II. He was honorably discharged in 1947.

He was granted several U.S. patents.

Megargel received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1951 from Pennsylvania State University.

Mirela Sechi Moretti Annoni Notare

Editorial advisory board member of The Institute

Senior member, 53; died 14 April 2021

Notare was a professor at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, in Florianópolis, Brazil.

She was an active IEEE member for 25 years, serving on several boards and committees including The Institute’s editorial advisory board. She was a member of the Region 9NoticIEEEro newsletter committee and was on the editorial staff of IEEE Latin America Transactions.

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