LINGUIST List 13.2047

Thu Aug 8 2002

All: Obituary: William A. Gale

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. Richard Sproat, Obituary: William A. Gale

Message 1: Obituary: William A. Gale

Date: Thu, 8 Aug 2002 09:40:23 -0400
From: Richard Sproat <>
Subject: Obituary: William A. Gale

We are sad to report that William A. Gale, statistician and 
computational linguist, passed away at his home in Maplewood,
New Jersey on August 6, 2002. He was 63. 
Bill grew up in Houston, Corpus Christi and Fort Worth, Texas, and
earned his Bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees in physics from Rice
University. He started work at AT&T Bell Labs doing radio astronomy
for the Venus probes.
In 1980 Bill moved to the statistics department at Bell Labs, where he
collaborated with economists, and started to work more and more on
issues related to computer science. With Daryl Pregibon he built the
first demonstration of the feasibility of applying ideas from expert
systems in statistics.
In the late 1980's Bill's interests turned to computational
linguistics, and the statistics of language. He worked initially with
Ken Church on problems of term-frequency distributions, but was soon
collaborating with many natural language researchers at Bell Labs and
Bill was enthusiastic about every problem he tackled, and his
enthusiasm and his skill in applying mathematical models to novel
domains will be sorely missed. We will also miss his patience in
helping non-mathematicians understand how to apply statistical models
to linguistic problems. Finally, and perhaps more than anything, we
will miss his gentility. As anyone who has worked with Bill will know,
it was always a pleasure to talk to him, whether about technical
matters, or about the wider realms of life.
Ken Church 
Chilin Shih 
Richard Sproat
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