Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Little Bit More on Dave Backus

In the days since his passing, lots of wonderful things have been said about Dave Backus. (See, for example, the obituary by Tom Cooley, posted on David Levine's page.) They're all true. But none sufficiently stress what was for me his essence: complete selflessness. We've all had a few good colleagues, even great colleagues, but Dave took it to an entirely different level.

The "Teaching" section of his web page begins, "I have an open-source attitude toward teaching materials". Dave had an open-source attitude toward everything. He lived for team building, cross-fertilization, mentoring, and on and on. A lesser person would have traded the selflessness for a longer c.v., but not Dave. And we're all better off for it.