Sad News - Ken Anderson Dies Unexpectedly at a Conference

Forwarded message from Timothy J Hickey

Cc:, Geoffrey Knauth ,
Kathleen Huber
From: Timothy J Hickey
To: JScheme Developers ,
Jscheme Users
Subject: [Jscheme-user] Sad News about Ken Anderson
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 09:37:37 -0500

Dear JScheme community,

I'm sorry to bring you the very sad news that Ken Anderson,
one of the co-developers of JScheme, died last night at the Spam
in Cambridge. He was in great spirits, talking about JScheme, when
he collapsed mid-sentence.

Ken was one of the three main developers of JScheme.
JScheme had two parent languages -- Peter Norvig's SILK
and Tim Hickey's Jscheme applet. Ken came onto the project
in the beginning (1997) and built the Scheme-Java interface that became
the javadot notation. He was responsible for the beautifully designed
cache techniques that make javadot so efficient. He also
was a tireless developer, chasing down bugs, dreaming up and
seriously analyzing proposed new optimizations. He was a
talented software engineer who loved building an elegant
and simultaneously practical language. He was also a really
nice guy. Kind, generous, thoughtful. The world is a poorer
place for his passing.

Ken touched many lives and brought many communities together.
I worked with him on JScheme for 2-3 years (publishing two papers)
before I met him in person (or even knew what he looked like!)
We've met regularly since to plot the future of JScheme and to
share our war stories of JScheme in the world. He has played
a major role in the Lightweight Language conferences and was
also an active player in the anti-Spam effort. I will miss him,
as I'm sure many other will as well.

JScheme will remain an active project and is very much part
of what Ken has given to the world. I am honored to have been
his friend and codeveloper.


---Tim Hickey---

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Ken Anderson

I was privileged to have known Ken for several years. Ken was a gentle man with exceptional curiosity. He was always anxious to hear about what I was doing, and I knew that if I could explain to Ken, I must be on the right track.

I will miss him.

Please pass along my condolences to his family and colleagues. --Mitch Wand

A great loss

I was very sorry to hear this, too. I didn't know Ken for long, but he invited me to present at the Lightweight Languages 4 conference, which he'd worked hard on for several years. I was very flattered, and projects like LL4 reflect the broad communities that he brought together. The best part of the whole conference for me was a very nice compliment that I got from Ken. It meant a lot. He was a very smart guy, and his opinion was very valuable.

As a programmer, I was really impressed by the breadth and quality of the work he'd done on other projects. In fact, much of the types of problems I've been working on, he had already solved in one way or another, and solved cleverly.

I'll give a small note about what he was like. Ken invited me back to Boston to give a seminar at his company. We were planning out dates and details just a week ago, and Ken, in what seems typical of his style, volunteered cheerfully to go over to MIT and survey the alignment of MIT's "Infinite Corridor," on his own time, to help me with some MIThenge predictions, which he had been very interested in over the past months. He didn't need to volunteer. He simply offered, giving freely and generously of his time and knowledge, and I think that was his style. He was truly interested in a broad array of subjects, and his enthusiasm showed. I was looking forward to talking more with him about many of the hard problems that he'd solved, and that I could learn from. The more I looked at his past work, the more questions I came up with.

He will indeed be missed, by his friends, and by the whole programming community. We are, however, much richer, and a closer community because of his efforts. I lost my own father less than a month ago, and I know how hard this must be on the family. I send them my deepest condolences.

I'd like to send a card, and make a donation to an organization that Ken would have approved of, so if anyone has information on how to get a card to the family, or of any charities that were designated for this purpose, please send it to me.

--Alan Eliasen,