R.I.P. Aravind Joshi

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I learned this morning that Aravind Joshi died yesterday at his home.

Among Aravind's many awards are the 1997 IJCAI Award for Research Excellence; the first ACL Lifetime Achievement Award, in 2002; the 2003 David E. Rumelhart Prize; and the 2005 Benjamin Franklin Medal, "[f]or his fundamental contributions to our understanding of how language is represented in the mind, and for developing techniques that enable computers to process efficiently the wide range of human languages."

Among his many fundamental contributions are the invention of Tree Adjoining Grammar, a "mildly context-sensitive" grammatical formalism that provides enough power to handle the phenomena of human language syntax while remaining computationally tractable; and the elucidation and application of Centering Theory, a framework for exploring "relationships among focus of attention, choice of referring expression, and perceived coherence of utterances within a discourse segment".

Aravind's personal influence has been just as important as his intellectual contributions. In nearly every academic and industrial research group in computational linguistics around the world today, you'll find his former students, postdocs, and colleagues. And you'll also find Aravind's connections widespread among theoretical linguists, sociolinguists,  psycholinguists, and even philosophers interested in language.

The Rumelhart Prize award page gives an excellent summary of his contributions up to 2003 — Google Scholar will give you a list of the hundreds of publications he has co-authored since that time.

One of those more recent publications — David Chiang, Aravind K. Joshi, and David B. Searls,  "Grammatical representations of macromolecular structure", Journal of Computational Biology 2006 — reminds me of a favorite Aravind Joshi memory. (Though it's actually about something that happened before the Rumelhart Prize award.)

Together with David Searls, a former Penn colleague who was then Senior Vice President for Computational Biology at GlaxoSmithKline, Aravind had organized a workshop on the mathematical analysis of two types of strings of discrete elements: sentences and macromolecules.

One of the presentations was by Yasuo Uemura, Aki Hasegawa, and Satoshi Kobayashi, who presented work published as "Tree adjoining grammars for RNA structure prediction", Theoretical computer science 1999, which was "concerned with identifying a subclass of tree adjoining grammars (TAGs) that is suitable for the application to modeling and predicting RNA secondary structures". They explain their motivation for choosing the TAG formalism:

TAGS have attracted great attention in linguistics for the reason that they have the ability to represent certain discontinuous constituents. For example, cross-serial dependencies in a string such as a1a2a3b1b2b3, where indices represent dependencies, is easily captured by a TAG, but not expressed by any context-free grammars. For another example, a string such as xuyvxRwyR, where x, y,u, v and w are strings and xR(yR) denotes the reversal of x(y), can also be readily expressed by a derived tree by some TAG. The structural feature of the latter example is called crossing dependency and as we will see soon, this extra power of TAGS to describe the crossing dependency seems to be just the right kind for a certain practical application of modeling and predicting biological sequence data.

Another presentation was by Elena Rivas and Sean Eddy, who described work published as "A dynamic programming algorithm for RNA structure prediction including pseudoknots", Journal of Molecular Biology 1999. From that paper's abstract:

We describe a dynamic programming algorithm for predicting optimal RNA secondary structure, including pseudoknots. […] The description of the algorithm is complex, which led us to adopt a useful graphical representation (Feynman diagrams) borrowed from quantum field theory.

After Elena's talk, Aravind and Elena spent the coffee break and some time thereafter at the whiteboard, exploring in detail the nature of the connections between Feynman Diagrams and Tree Adjoining Grammars. (Crudely, as I understand it, Feynman Diagrams offer an efficient solution for a certain class of integrals where most of an problematically increasing number of terms cancel as positive and negative pairs; these canceling pairs are analogous to the matching left and right brackets — or lexical dependencies — of a parsed sentence; both formalisms offer an analogy to the matching elements in macromolecule secondary structure. )

This memory may help to illustrate how Aravind, trained as an electrical engineer, could make such important contributions to linguistics and to cognitive science, and also how he made constructive and consequential connections with people in such a wide variety of other disciplines.

I learned an enormous amount from Aravind over the years. And I've been lucky enough to spend several decades inhabiting the wonderful interdisciplinary community that he created. I'll miss him.

Update — a thoughtful Facebook note from Bob Frank:

I just heard the crushing news that Aravind Joshi passed away yesterday. It's hard for me to overstate how profoundly Aravind influenced my career and my life, since he took me on as his PhD student 30 years ago. The content of his work laid the foundations for so much of what I have worked on over the years, and his vision of interdisciplinary interaction shaped how I see the field. I will never forget his insatiable curiosity and intellectual energy, his remarkable ability to identify good problems and insightful solutions, and his gentle kindness and humanity. And I will so much miss the boyish excitement he exuded whenever he would share his latest ideas with me. Thank you for everything, Aravind. You will be missed.

And another one from Julia Hockenmaier:

I can’t begin to describe how much I owe to Aravind's advice and mentorship, his intellect, his curiosity, his kindness, and his great sense of humor. It was such a privilege to work so closely with him, even as one of his last postdocs. His impact on our field and our community can simply not be overstated. We’ve lost one of our founding fathers. Not just because he was one of the few, or probably even the only one, still around from the very early days of NLP. We’ve also lost someone who has really shaped the intellectual and social culture of our community in fundamental ways. If you are among those that feel at home in our field because of its intellectual richness and diversity, and also because you never felt out of place because you are a woman, you should know how much you owe to Aravind and the legacy of his very many distinguished students, and the culture he and his colleagues created at Penn and in the community as a whole. Rest in peace, Aravind. In sorrow, and gratitude.


  1. Bob Moore said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 2:46 pm

    This is a huge loss to the computational linguistics community. So sad.

  2. Will Lewis said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 7:04 pm

    What a great man, and such a huge loss to the field. How many people do I know that he personally mentored? More than i can count. His legacy will continue through the hundreds of careers and lives he had touched.

  3. Srinivas Bangalore said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 7:31 pm

    Aravind enjoyed technical explorations that spanned multiple disciplines. He had a unique gift to see points of similarities that are buried in terminology of disparate fields.

    Similar to an accomplished artist, he tirelessly sought to refine Tree-adjoining grammars and its capacity to capture the syntax of human language.

    It is an irreplaceable loss to many of the disciplines on which Aravind had an immeasurable impact.

  4. Pat Hayes said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 7:44 pm

    I never worked directly with Avarind but knew him from meetings and conversations at many conferences and workshops. The single most striking memory of him, for me, is that he was always smiling.

  5. Liang Huang said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 8:47 pm

    I am deeply saddened by this news. Aravind brought me to Penn and I was his last PhD student. Both of us went to COLING 2002 and there he was recruiting students/postdocs for his new computational biology grant. He introduced me to the unexpected connections between grammars/parsing and structural biology, which was one of the "new" fields he delved into during his last 10 years of work (heavily featured in his Lifetime Achievement Award address, 2002). David, Julia, and I worked on this project, in collaboration with Ken Dill. However, much to his disappointment, I did not develop this line of work for my thesis; instead, I only narrowly focused on CL/NLP. Now after 10+ years, surprisingly, I'm back at the intersection of parsing algorithms and structural biology, exactly what Aravind wanted me to work on back in 2003! And by now I'm fully convinced that this direction is potentially more important than CL/NLP itself. Now it's my job to convince my own PhD students about this (which remains difficult). All I can tell is: Aravind was correct at the very beginning.

    Several months ago at EMNLP 2017, Martha suggested that I give Aravind a call, esp. now that I finally had a breakthrough result in the direction he had me work on when I first started. I am so sad that I hadn't done that; Aravind would have been very happy hearing my result.

    Mark, thanks for featuring so much about computational biology here. The Uemura et al and Rivas/Eddy papers you mentioned are now back at the center stage in my group; coincidentally, they were the very first two papers Aravind had me read before I started my PhD. I was deeply amazed by the connection back in 2002.

    Aravind, I will continue this great direction in your honor.

  6. Vijay Shanker said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 8:53 pm

    Aravind has made so many contributions in multiple disciplines. I feel blessed to have had him as a PhD advisor and a mentor since then. His intellectual curiosity and his enthusiasm for learning was inspiring. He was such a gentle and caring person. I will always remember how much he has done for me both professionally and personally. I will miss him greatly.

  7. Barbara Partee said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 10:16 pm

    Aravind was one of my heroes. An amazing researcher, a great mentor and bridge-builder, and a wonderful human being. And as Pat Hayes noted, always smiling. He brightened and enlightened every conference he was at. I can't grasp that he's gone. His departure leaves such a hole! But what a wonderful legacy he has left, in his work, in his students and those he mentored, and in all the lives he has touched.

  8. Rubrick said,

    January 1, 2018 @ 11:37 pm

    He sounds like a great man. And it somehow seems fitting that Bob Frank's note contains a rare non-overnegation: It's hard for me to overstate…

  9. Christy Doran said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 8:10 am

    Mark does a great job of capturing the breadth of Aravind's intellectual pursuits, and his remarkable ability to pull people and ideas together across fields. He was a generous teacher, advisor, colleague and mentor. All of that being said, one of my favorite things about Aravind was his giggle–he was always laughing, even when it was a terrible idea. A group of his students went to visit him in the hospital, after his ribs had been cracked open for heart surgery, and while we definitely cheered him up and he was glad to see us, it was also rather painful for him as he kept bursting into laughter. That's the memory that keeps coming back to me today.

  10. Tony Kroch said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 8:12 am

    I will never forget the lecture on Tree Adjoining Grammar that Aravind gave to the Sloan Cognitive Science Group in the early 80s. It was clear to all of us in the audience that he had made an important contribution to automata theory. At the same time, he was very modest about the significance of his results, gently suggesting only that linguists might be interested in them. From that suggestion came all the work on the application of TAG to generative syntax that he and I and many students did for a long run of years. Despite all the ups and downs in (computational) linguistics and NLP in the recent past, Aravind's contributions are permanent. I miss him.

  11. Lori Levin said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 10:44 am

    Aravind made Penn one of the best places for interdisciplinary research even before the IRCS. And he was such a gentle person — a good reminder that great people can be gracious, kind, humble, and joyful.

  12. William Schuler said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 11:42 am

    More than a great mind, he was a genuinely nice person. He will be missed.

  13. Yves Schabes said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 12:53 pm

    It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Aravind. Aravind Joshi’s life impacted so many people’s lives, students, academics, entrepreneurs and many others. As my Ph.D. advisor, he taught me how to approach open problems in a scientific and methodic manner. Aravind always engaged with people in kind, mindful, open and mutually-beneficial ways. His commitment to explore computational aspects of language is inspirational. Aravind positively impacted the world not only through his scientific work, but also by operating in life in inspiring and uplifting ways. Aravind’s spirit remains in all of us who interacted with him.

  14. Shibamouli Lahiri said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 2:30 pm

    I'm deeply sad at Prof Joshi's passing. To me he was a hero – no less. From humble beginnings he rose to a height that was an inspiration to me and many others. Prof Joshi was one of the people I had in mind while coming to US. He'll be sorely missed.

    May God bless his soul. RIP Prof Joshi.

  15. Wilma de Soto said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 7:18 pm

    studied Linguistics. I should NEVER have been invited to Aravind and Susan's house where super linguists and computer scientists were there, but I held more than my own and Aravind LOVED that. I was one of the few people whom his cats would search for me when they were away.

    Aravind LOVED to read my entries in the Diary at his and Susan's country cottage in upstate PA. He loved my writing.

    My husband and I were always invited to Diwali at the Joshi's home. This past November was the last time we were there.

    I am a nobody whom Aravind loved as a regular person. I loved him too, and the world will never see the like of him again.

    Aravind could relate to even a low-life person like me, and LOVED to see me spar on an equal footing with his colleagues, from which he learned even more about them and about me.

    He introduced to the world of Macintosh in 1987 for which I am forever grateful.

  16. Barbara Partee said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 9:16 pm

    Lori's comment reminds me: When Matthew Stone was in his last year as an undergraduate at Brown, interested in semantics and in computer science, his advisor Polly Jacobson urged him to come to UMass and recommended him super-highly to us. We certainly admitted him, and he came for a visit, and sitting in my office I asked him more about his interests. And in those days our dominant figure in CS in natural language processing was Roger Shank's student Wendy Lehnert, who was at that time still quite hostile to any sort of theoretical linguistics. So we had no real cooperation — certain pairs of faculty members worked together happily, but I knew we didn't have the right environment for Matthew to develop in the way he wanted to. So although I knew I would love to have him as a semantics student, I had to tell him that if I were him, I would go to Penn. And of course Joshi was one of the big reasons, and the cooperative atmosphere that he and Lila Gleitman and Mark Liberman and others fostered there. And he did, and of course flourished, and I was wistful not to have him here, but my conscience was clear.

  17. Liang Huang said,

    January 2, 2018 @ 11:51 pm

    I'm trying to compile a comprehensive list of Aravind's PhD students. This list John Nerbonne (ACL President, 2002) compiled for Aravind's Lifetime Achievement Award is a very good starting point:

    But this list
    1. doesn't list Rao Kosaraju (1969, the very first PhD student of Aravind's) or Philip Resnik (1993)
    2. incorrectly lists Mathew Stone (1998) as Aravind's student (his advisor was actually Mark Steedman, but as Barbara pointed out, Aravind was a big reason for Matt to go to Penn).
    3. needs to be updated with post-2002 graduates.
    4. needs to annotate co-advisers
    5. needs to annotate degrees (Linguistics or CIS).

    Here is an updated and chronological version:

    Rao Kosaraju, 1969
    Masako Takahashi, 1972
    Lynette Hirschman, 1973
    David Klappholz, 1974
    Ralph Weischedel, 1975
    Stanley Rosenschein, 1975
    Leon Levy, 1977
    Thomas Kaczmarek, 1977
    S. Jerrold Kaplan, 1979
    Kathleen McKeown, 1982
    Eric Mays, 1984
    Kathleen McCoy, 1985
    K. Vijayshankar, 1987
    David Weir, 1988
    Yves Schabes, 1990
    Robert Frank, 1992 (co-advised by Tony Kroch?)
    Lyn Walker, 1993
    Owen Rambow, 1994 (co-advised by Tony Kroch)
    Srinivas Bangalore, 1996
    Christy Doran, 1997
    Fei Xia, 2000 (co-advised by Martha Palmer)
    Seth Kulick, 2001 (co-advised by Tony Kroch)
    Anoop Sarkar, 2002
    *Eleni Miltsakaki, 2003 (co-advised by Ellen Prince)
    *Rashmi Prasad, 2003?
    David Chiang, 2004
    Libin Shen, 2006
    Liang Huang, 2008 (co-advised by Kevin Knight, USC)
    Nikhil Dinesh, 2010 (co-advised by Insup Lee)

    * degrees in Linguistics; others CIS.

    Any corrections?

    See also Aravind's Tree (highly incomplete):

  18. Rajeev Sangal said,

    January 3, 2018 @ 1:52 am

    In passing away of Prof Aravind Joshi we have lost a great intellectual whose work is known for its exactness and rigour, an unusually prolific connector of disciplines, a mentor to many of us, and a warm and kind human being.

    I knew him from the time I was a Phd student at Penn in the late 1970s. After I returned to India as a faculty member and started work on Indian languages using Panini's Grammar in the 1980s, he would raise important questions to understand how the approach differed with Tree Adjoining Grammar and other frameworks, but was always encouraging. I remember the endless discussions my colleague Dr Vineet Chaitanya and I had with him, which led to the discovery of "subtle" underlying unity of TAG and Panini's Grammar.

    I remember him saying once with a smile, it is good you did not work on TAG at Penn, because then you would not have worked on Computational Paninian Grammar. Words of a very kind man who placed exploration of different approaches above his own theories, and his colleagues and students above himself!

    Later, when we were busy in building machine translation systems for Indian languages, he encouraged us to re-connect to the international computational linguistics community. Through his encouragement and subtle persuasion, the Indian CL community connected to the international CL community through ACL 2000. ICON series of conferences in India started with his encouragement soon after in 2002. He always tried to attend ICON even though it entailed a long travel for him. In fact, he attended almost every ICON until recently, due to his health.

    He was a soft spoken man with a warm heart. Always had the concern for others. Meeting him was a pleasure. His wife Susan added warmth and liveliness to the atmosphere.

    I have benefited immensely from his mentorship. I will always remember his smiling and kind face. And his probing questions.

    – Rajeev Sangal
    Professor of Computer Sc. and Engg., and
    Director, IIT(BHU), Varanasi, India
    director@iitbhu.ac.in, or sangal@iiit.ac.in

  19. Tatjana Scheffler said,

    January 3, 2018 @ 2:39 am

    Liang Huang: Aravind was also my co-supervisor (with Maribel Romero). Though my thesis is firmly in theoretical linguistics, throughout my time at Penn I worked in Aravind's metagrammar project and had weekly meetings with him about my work and thesis. I graduated in 2008.

    PS: Here's what I wrote on Twitter: "Aravind Joshi was that rare combination of absolute brilliance with a kind heart, softspokenness and genuine concern for others. It was such a privilege to have been his student." It is such a huge loss.

  20. Sriram Venkatapathy said,

    January 3, 2018 @ 1:54 pm

    Aravind was my co-advisor (with Rajeev Sangal) during my Ph.D. at IIIT-Hyderabad. He had hosted me as a research visitor at IRCS, UPenn in 2004 and 2006 — and has mentored me ever since. It was truly a privilege knowing him and working with him. I would miss him very much.

    Apart from being such a brilliant researcher, he was a great human being. He was warm, extremely inspiring and supportive. My meetings with him always resulting in me having renewed enthusiasm to try some of the fresh ideas and new directions. My interactions with him had a transformative effect on me.

    I have also witnessed how keen he was towards boosting NLP research in India, and mentoring students. As Rajeev mentioned in his comment, he nurtured ICON in an advisory role. All the participants of future ICONs will feel his absence immensely.

  21. Liang Huang said,

    January 3, 2018 @ 2:56 pm

    Thanks Tanja! Yes we overlapped 2003-08 and I always thought you were Aravind's student, but your German CV seems to only list Maribel as "supervisor" (sorry I don't understand German so I just google translated…).

  22. Francois Lang said,

    January 3, 2018 @ 9:14 pm

    I was a graduate student at Penn in the mid/late 80s, and never amounted to much professionally, but do recall knowing Lynette Hirschman, Ralph Weischedel, Kathleen McKeown, Kathleen McCoy, Yves Schabes, David Weir, and Bob Frank. My fondest (admittedly indirect) memory of Aravind is that some of his students referred to him as "Yoda". Quite appropriate, I'd say, for someone who levitated that many of his students to greatness.

  23. Lauri Karttunen said,

    January 4, 2018 @ 3:14 am

    Annie Zaenen and I were fortunate in spending a semester as visitors at IRCS in the late 1990s thanks to Aravind's invitation. Aravind was always my Yoda, a kind wise master. I recall may good times with Aravind and Susan. I miss him deeply.

  24. Sudheer Kolachina said,

    January 4, 2018 @ 9:33 am

    I worked with Aravind on building a corpus of Hindi annotated with discourse structure from 2010-2012. In other words, I was a lowly grad student in the third word struggling to keep my dream of becoming a linguist alive. Aravind was extremely kind to me during this period. Not once did he put my ideas down in discussions. Neither did he ever tell me to downsize my ambition. I nervously sent him my statement of purpose before applying to grad schools in 2012 to get some feedback. He wrote back with detailed postive comments. A scientist of his standing did not have to do this. To me, this alone speaks volumes about him. I understand now that he was someone who did the right thing for its own sake and not with rewards or image games in mind. As others mentioned above, it is unlikely that the world will see a teacher like him again.

  25. Eva Hajicova said,

    January 4, 2018 @ 2:09 pm

    Let me add a note on behalf of the Prague discourse team: Liang Huang has asked for corrections or additions to her list of Aravind's PhD students. The discourse group at Charles University, Sarka Zikanova, Lucka Mladova, Pavlina Synkova, Anja Nedoluzhko, Jiri Mirovsky, Magda and Katka Rysova, would be proud to be on the list, too: though not formally PhD students of Aravind, we all feel to have him as a mentor in our discourse studies, a kind, calm, charming and most knowledgeable mentor, we want to say at this sad moment. Our meetings with him and Susan, be it in Prague or in Philadelphia are unforgettable, both from the professional and personal points of view. As for myself, my first face-to-face meeting with him was at COLING 1969 (alas!) in Sanga Saby in Sweden, where we spent the whole conference boat-trip discussing pushdown store transducers and the issues later called by him mild context sensitivity. Since then, we have never lost contacts, first, due to the political barriers, by reading each other's paper, and later, after 1989, by meetings in person, in Prague, Philadelphia or at many conferences and by cooperating on joint Czech-American research projects. These contacts were "crowned" in 2013 by his reception of the honorary doctorate at our University. His passing away is a great loss for the whole community, he was a great scientist, a wonderful teacher and a remarkable personality.

  26. James Pustejovsky said,

    January 4, 2018 @ 9:10 pm

    I was deeply saddened to learn of Aravind's passing. I have known Aravind for years, but was extremely fortunate to be able to collaborate with him over the last few years on a project quite dear to him, that of resurfacing his work on verb decomposition from the early 1970s. A chance conversation at an LREC several years ago with Aravind and Nicoletta Calzolari made me aware of this less familiar aspect of his research. Aravind, as it happens, was very interested in testing and extending George Miller's motion verb decompositional strategy on verbs of perception, using a technique that was called "semantic factorization". I was completely blown away by his insights into lexical semantic distinctions and the sense nuances that emerge in distinct contexts. He was a lexical semanticist on top of everything else. We wrote a paper connecting his work to more contemporary approaches to semantic typing and composition, and this was published along with his own carefully edited version of the original paper from 1972. With the help of Annie Zaenen, Bonnie Webber, and Martha Palmer, it appeared in LILT in 2017. I suspect that this was his last publication. According to Martha, after speaking with him when it appeared, he was very proud to see his paper finally in print. He will be forever missed.

  27. Mona Diab said,

    January 5, 2018 @ 4:27 pm

    RIP Aravind Joshi. I won't speak to his numerous and well deserved accolades. I have known him as a person and very nurturing role model to emulate with his humbleness and ease of access despite being one of the founders of our field. May he rest in peace and may his legacy carry on.

  28. Jochen L. Leidner said,

    January 5, 2018 @ 6:42 pm

    The recent weeks have seen more than one big name's passing, and looking at the comments of colleagues and friends over the years it strikes me that it's sad that you learn so much more about people (only) when they're gone.

    Some are praised for their scientific achievements, some for their friendliness. In Aravind's case it's clearly both ('foundation' and 'warmth' are two words read above that resonate).

    Rest in peace, Aravind.

  29. Sophia Malamud said,

    January 5, 2018 @ 7:54 pm

    I took Aravind's Math Methods in Linguistics course as a sophomore at Penn; from that point and throughout subsequent graduate career and afterwards, he has been an inspiration and an influence, both intellectually – though my work has been purely theoretical – and personally. At IRCS talks, more often than not he appeared to be deeply asleep during the talk – yet during the question period he would invariably put forth insightful and relevant questions and comments, clearly showing he'd heard every word.
    His intellectual breadth, curiosity, warmth, and kindness will be missed. I'm shocked to learn of his passing. May the force be with him.

  30. Lucas Champollion said,

    January 11, 2018 @ 6:26 pm

    Aravind was the reason I came to Penn as an exchange student, where I wanted to study computational linguistics and formal language theory focusing on tree adjoining grammar. He sponsored my exchange year as a visitor in 2004 and took me on as a PhD student one year later. Without him I might well not have become a theoretical linguist. Later, when I went into formal semantics, Cleo Condoravdi, then at Xerox PARC, took me on as her student and became the supervisor of my dissertation. Aravind remained involved as the chair of my dissertation committee. Both are credited as such on the title page of my 2010 dissertation, and in the acknowledgments, where I wrote: "Aravind Joshi has been unerringly supportive as he sponsored my first stay at Penn as an exchange student, and later on, as I found my way through graduate school between tree-adjoining grammar and semantics. He has selflessly supported my decision to move away from Penn and from his own research agenda. I thank him for chairing my dissertation committee, and I’m deeply grateful for his constant support."

    My experience with Aravind echoes those of many who have posted here. Despite his extraordinary achievements and wisdom he was almost self-effacingly humble, and full of warmth and kindness. I will miss him dearly.

  31. Philip Taylor said,

    January 12, 2018 @ 5:04 pm

    Whether the usage results from Professor Joshi's own personality, or whether it reflects a more widespread change in usage that I have until now failed to observe, for me by far the most poignant thing to come out of the many personal recollections above is that almost every contributor writes of "Aravind" and not of "Joshi". If only this custom could be more widely adopted in academic obituaries and the like, where (in my experience at least) the deceased is invariably referred to solely by surname in all but the opening (and occasionally closing) words, making the whole thing very formal and impersonal.

  32. Lucas Champollion said,

    January 12, 2018 @ 5:50 pm

    Something that impressed me as a student coming from Germany, where students (at least undergraduates) typically address professors as Frau X or Herr Y, is that Aravind never insisted on being called or addressed by students in any particular way that would acknowledge his status. Out of respect and awe I addressed him as Dr. Joshi until I graduated, even as I called all my other professors by first name following the custom among American graduate students. Many of my fellow students called him Aravind, one student from India started all messages to him with "Respected Sir", another one from Spain would launch right into the body of their email, without addressing him at all. He just seemed happy to let people interact with him in whatever way they felt most comfortable.

  33. Liang Huang said,

    January 13, 2018 @ 5:22 am

    Hi All,

    I've compiled a comprehensive list of Aravind's PhD students (with thesis titles and thesis links) based on a previous list by Robert Frank.


    Let me know if you have suggestions/corrections.


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