The University of Arizona

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Ralph Griswold 1934–2006

October 5, 2006

Ralph Griswold photoRalph E. Griswold, Regents Professor Emeritus, died in Tucson on October 4, 2006, of complications from pancreatic cancer.

Griswold was born in Modesto, California, in 1934. He was an award winner in the 1952 Westinghouse National Science Talent Search and went on to attend Stanford University, culminating in a PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1962.

Griswold joined the staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey, and rose to become head of Programming Research and Development. In 1971, he came to the University of Arizona to found the Department of Computer Science, and he served as department head through 1981. His insistence on high standards brought the department recognition and respect. In recognition of his work the university granted him the title of Regents Professor in 1990.

While at Bell Labs, Griswold led the design and implementation of the groundbreaking SNOBOL4 programming language with its emphasis on string manipulation and high-level data structures. At Arizona, he developed the Icon programming language, a high-level language whose influence can be seen in Python and other recent languages.

Griswold authored numerous books and articles about computer science. After retiring in 1995, his interests turned to weaving. While researching mathematical aspects of weaving design he collected and digitized a large library of weaving documents and maintained a public website. He published technical monographs and weaving designs that inspired the work of others, and he remained active until his final week.

Learn more:
Tucson Newspapers notice
Ralph Griswold's weaving website

Corrected October 17, 2006: An incorrect year of retirement was initially published.