In Memoriam: December 2015

IEEE mourns the loss of the following members

30 December 2015

Joseph F. Traub

Computing pioneer

Life Member, 82; died 20 July

Traub developed an information-based complexity algorithm that helped determine the minimum computing power and resources required to solve computational problems.

He began his career in 1959 as a computer scientist at Bell Telephone Laboratories, in Murray Hill, N.J., where he came up with the algorithm. He later developed software tools for determining the value of financial derivatives. He left Bell Labs in 1971 to become dean of the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh. He joined Columbia in 1978 as the first dean of the university’s computer science department. Traub retired in 1989.

From 1986 to 1992 he chaired the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine—the country’s leading advisory group on science and technology—and he held the position again from 2005 to 2009. He was editor in chief of the Journal of Complexity [Elsevier] from 1985 until he died.

Traub received bachelor’s degrees in math and physics from the City College of New York and earned a Ph.D. in applied mathematics in 1959 from Columbia.


Alfred Fettweis

Inventor of filters

Life Fellow, 88; died 20 August

Fettweis helped pave the way for switched-capacitor electronic filters, which are incorporated into switchboards to remove unwanted frequency components of analog signals. He also invented wave digital filters, which are embedded in IC chips to process digital signals for televisions and portable devices.

He joined the International Telephone and Telegraph Corp. in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1961 as a development engineer. He left in 1963 to become a professor of engineering at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. From 1967 until he retired, he was a professor of communications engineering at Ruhr University, in Bochum, Germany.

In 1987 Fettweis served as vice president of IEEE Region 8 (Europe, Middle East, and Africa). He was a member of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society and received several of the society’s awards, including its 2001 Mac Van Valkenburg Award and its 2003 Vitold Belevitch Award.

He received bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, in 1951 and 1962.


George Mueller

Manned spaceflight administrator

Life Fellow, 97; died 12 October

As deputy associate administrator of NASA’s Apollo and Gemini programs, Mueller helped meet U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s deadline of sending an American astronaut to the moon by 1969. Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin walked on the moon on 20 July of that year.

Mueller began his career in the early 1940s working on microwave tubes, television, and radar at Bell Telephone Laboratories, in Murray Hill, N.J. He left there in 1946 to found a vacuum tube laboratory at Ohio State University, in Columbus. He was an associate professor of electrical engineering at the university until 1957, when he left to become vice president of Space Technology Laboratories, in Los Angeles.

Six years later he was hired by NASA administrator James E. Webb to lead the agency’s Apollo and Gemini programs. Over the next decade, Mueller revamped and expedited test procedures and reorganized NASA’s space centers in Alabama, Florida, and Texas so that program controllers at each location reported directly to him. On 21 July 1969, the day after the U.S. astronauts stepped on the moon, he was quoted in The New York Times: “This day man’s oldest dream is made a reality—this day the ancient bonds tying him to the Earth have been broken.”

He returned to private industry in December 1969, hired as a senior vice president by General Dynamics Corp., the aerospace and defense contractor in Falls Church, Va. He left in 1971 to serve as president and CEO of System Development Corp., which many consider to be the first software company, in Santa Monica, Calif. He was CEO of Kistler Aerospace, in Kirkland, Wash., from 1995 until he retired in 2004.

Mueller received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1939 from the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy (now Missouri University of Science and Technology), in Rolla. He earned a master’s degree from Purdue University, in West Lafayette, Ind., and a Ph.D. in physics from Ohio State.

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