Visit our messages of remembrance page. We welcome contributions by family, friends and colleagues.
The University of Toronto is mourning the loss of Professor Emeritus C.C. "Kelly" Gotlieb, BA, MA, CM, PhD, LLD, FRSC, who passed away on October 16 at age 95.
Gotlieb is widely regarded as the "father of computing in Canada" and was the inaugural director, now more commonly known as chair, of the Department of Computer Science when it was founded as a graduate unit in 1964.
Read the Globe & Mail: Kelly Gotlieb was the father of Canadian computing
"In addition to his technical knowledge, Kelly had exceptional understanding of, and experience in dealing with, many of the social issues involving computing that were occurring and would continue to be remain," says University Professor Allan Borodin, Gotlieb’s co-author of the 1973 forward-thinking book, Social Issues in Computing. Borodin and Gotlieb also introduced a course on the topic together.
"Kelly was a great mentor, godfather to my son, and inspiration to all who knew him personally and professionally."
Photo left: Professor Gotlieb in the 1950; founder of the U of T Computation Centre (computer science department archives).
An early adopter of technology
Through his vision, inspiration, and leadership, Gotlieb played a fundamental role in bringing Canadians into the modern age of computing.
A U of T physics graduate, Professor Gotlieb founded the U of T Computation Centre.
In 1952, U of T acquired the Ferranti Mark I, the world’s first commercially available electronic digital computer, and the second to be ever sold.
Photo right: Gotlieb (standing) and M.A.R. Ghonarimy (seated) taught the first graduate course on computing titled, "The Logical Basis of Digital Computing Machines" (University of Toronto archives).
The FERUT, as it became known, was available, free of charge, to researchers at other Canadian universities, leading to their early adoption of technology and the formation of departments of computer science in universities across the country.
Applications and demonstrations on this and later U of T computers done by Gotlieb and his colleagues had major influences in Canada:
"Flutter calculations", involving the inversion of a 40x40 matrix, were essential for the design of the Avro Arrow aircraft.
"Backwater calculations" for an all-Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway, proving it was practical (simulating the flooding that would otherwise take place). This led the US Congress to change its position and join Canada in the project.
A demonstration of a computerized airline reservation system (at which the President of Air Canada was present) led to the adoption in Canada of one of the first such systems.
Simulation of computer controlled traffic lights led to the adoption in Toronto of the first such system in the world.
The U of T library was a pioneer in digitizing its card catalogue, and the format it developed was later adopted by the US Library of Congress.
Simulation of machine reading of postal codes led to an early introduction of postal codes in Canada.
A well-attended course on Computers in Business, led to the widespread adoption of computers by the Canadian insurance industry.
As Gotlieb is known to have said, "We were responsible for an entire nation’s calculations."
Visionary on the social impact of computing
Gotlieb also had the vision to recognize that computers would have profound impacts on society that needed to be understood and planned for.
Research on computerized databases led his appointment to a Task Force on Privacy for the Federal Governments Departments of Justice and Industry, leading to the first Privacy Legislation report in Canada.
Photo left: Gotlieb giving a special lecture at the University of Toronto in celebration of his 90th birthday.
When the UN General Assembly instructed Secretary U Thant to produce a Report on the Application of Computer Technology to Development, six experts, including Professor Gotlieb from Canada, were chosen to write it.
The Oxford Institute for the Internet is one of the world's best known organizations for studying the effects of computers on society. Its director, William Dutton, has indicated that reading Social Issues in Computing by Gotlieb and Borodin – the first book on the topic – led to his career choice.
Professor Gotlieb was Canadian Representative when the International Federation of Information Societies (IFIPS) was founded and was the first chairman of TC9, the Technical Committee on Computers and Society – a subject he taught as an undergraduate course for over 35 years.
Influence on computer science education and research
Gotlieb introduced the first university credit course on computing in Canada in 1950, followed by the first graduate courses a year later. Gotlieb was instrumental in determining which parts of mathematics would be most useful for the field.
"In the 1960s Kelly realized that there would be areas of mathematics beyond Numerical Analysis that would have a major impact on Computer Science," explains Professor Emeritus Derek Corneil.
Photo right: Past department chairs (left to right) Eugene Fiume, Wayne Enright, Allan Borodin, and Derek Corneil with Gotlieb (center) met at the U of T Faculty Club on April 4 to celebrate Gotlieb's 95th birthday.
"To 'find' such areas, Kelly sat in on a number of introductory graduate math courses, including one on graph theory. Kelly quickly realized that many problems in computing are expressible as graph problems and thus the importance of students having some exposure to graph theory. In his overview graduate course, Kelly included four or five lectures on graph theory."
In was then that Professor Corneil discovered graph theory, which has been his area of research for nearly half a century.
"Soon after taking Kelly's course, I asked him to be my PhD supervisor. Fortunately, he agreed. He was an outstanding supervisor and I greatly appreciated his insights and friendship."
Gotlieb recognized from the onset, the importance of computer education and the need for university-trained computer scientists. By comparison, many Ivy League schools in the US did not establish computer science programs until the 1980s.
"The biggest bottleneck is and will be the lack of trained personnel," said Gotlieb. "I’m convinced that the emphasis must be placed on technical education. I would like to see business stress to the universities the need for fundamental courses because it is from the universities that these trained people will have to come."
With his late colleague, J. N. P. "Pat" Hume, Gotlieb taught night courses for business people introducing them to computers. In 1958, the professors published High-Speed Data Processing, the first book on the application of computers to business. These efforts allowed many Canadian companies, including the banking industry, to become early adopters of computer technology.
1958 was also a big year for words used in computing, as recognized by the Oxford English Dictionary. Gotlieb and Hume were credited for twelve seminal words: Block n.; Character n.; Datum n.; Generator n.; In‐line adj. and n.; Interpreter n.; and Keyboard n.; Logical adj. and n.; Loop v.; Matrix v.; Re‐run v.; Simulate v.
During the mid-1950s, Gotlieb was active in the formation of what would become the Canadian Information Processing Society (CIPS) to "advance computing data and processing, and to provide a national source of information and representation." He became the society’s president.
Gotlieb served for twenty years as the co-chair of the awards committee for the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the largest international scientific and educational organization for computing.
His contributions have been recognized with numerous international and national awards and honours. These include Fellowships in the Royal Society of Canada, the Association of Computing Machinery, the British Computer Society, and the Canadian Information Processing Society, and five honorary doctorates from the University of Toronto, the Université de Montréal, the University of Waterloo, the Technical University of Nova Scotia and the University of Victoria.
He is a recipient of the Order of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the Canadian Association of Computer Science (CACS/AIC) Lifetime Achievement Award (2014) and the IEEE C.C. Gotlieb Computer Award, established in 2007 and awarded to him in 2012 when the award was renamed in his honour.
Photo left: Gotlieb with the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, 18th prime minister of Canada, when they were both recognized this past June by University of Montreal with an honorary doctorate (courtesy of the l'Université de Montréal).
When Gotlieb was appointed to helm U of T's Computation Centre, he was considered too junior at the time to be given the title of director. So fittingly, he was called, "Chief Computer".
Memorial donations may be made to the C.C. (Kelly) Gotlieb Graduate Fellowship in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto.
With files from the Department of Computer Science archives.
The funeral was held Thursday, October 20 at 1 p.m.