In Memoriam: Glen Langdon

To: UCSC Community

From: J.J. Garcia-Luna-Aceves and Patrick Mantey, Department of Computer Engineering


We are saddened by the death earlier this month of our colleague and friend Glen Langdon, professor emeritus of computer engineering.

Glen's professional experience included a distinguished career in industrial research as well as an outstanding career in academia. He started with IBM in New York, where his work led to journal publications in computer architecture. In 1974, he transferred to IBM's Research Division in San Jose. During his years there, Glen and a colleague were pioneers in data compression, inventing arithmetic coding. He was awarded 18 U.S. patents and wrote a book on "Logic Design" published in 1974. While at IBM, Glen taught for several years at Santa Clara University in their "early bird" graduate program in electrical engineering, and he earned a reputation there as an outstanding teacher. He wrote a book on "Computer Design" published in 1982, and in 1984-85 he taught (with Professor Michael Flynn) a graduate course in computer architecture at Stanford University using the new book.

Glen's commitment to education was underscored by his service as co-chair of the committee that developed the "Model Curriculum in Computer Science and Engineering" published by the IEEE in 1984. This is the model we followed in creating the computer engineering program here at UC Santa Cruz, and Glen served as an advisor to us in those first few years as we developed our program. He also served as a member of accreditation teams evaluating programs in computer engineering for ABET. His other academic contributions included stints as a visiting faculty member in Brazil. Some regard Glen as the father of the computer industry in Brazil, as their first computer (known as the "ugly duckling") was built by his students there and led to the Scopus computer company. 

Glen was honored with election as an IEEE Fellow in 1986 "for contributions to the Brazilian computer industry, computer design education, and data compression coding algorithms."  

Glen took early retirement from IBM in 1987 (though still consulting with IBM Research) and came full time to academia, joining the new Computer Engineering Department at UCSC, which had admitted its first students in the fall of 1984. As a member of the Computer Engineering Department, Glen helped develop and teach both undergraduate and graduate classes. He was always a champion of student interests and was very highly respected by, and close to, his graduate students. He was advisor for the first Ph.D. awarded in Computer Engineering at UCSC, in 1992, and over the next ten years he directed seven more Ph.D.s, as well as several M.S. graduates. Glen retired from UC Santa Cruz in 2003. 

Plans for a celebration of Glen's life this summer are pending.