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George E. Collins
George E. Collins, in a March 25, 1988, photo

In Memoriam: George E. Collins

Photo by Robert Cohen/UD Archives

Former computer science professor passes away

George E. Collins, a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Delaware from 1985-86 and 1995-2002, died Nov. 21, 2017. He was 89.

Born in Iowa, Prof. Collins graduated from the State University of Iowa and earned his doctoral degree from Cornell University. A computer scientist and ACM Fellow, Dr. Collins made many fundamental contributions to the field of computer algebra with publication dates spanning 1954 to 2017.

He created the cylindrical algebraic decomposition (CAD) method for the quantifier elimination problem and is known in computer science more generally for the reference counting approach to memory management.

“When I joined the CS faculty at Wisconsin in 1970 to work with George, it was almost like going to grad school again in that I learned so much from him but it was a lot more fun,” said Bob Caviness, a professor emeritus and former chair of UD’s Department of Computer and Information Sciences. “Those five years cemented a lifelong relationship as colleagues and friends with George, his wife, Dorothy, and his three daughters.  He accepted invitations twice to come to UD, first as a Distinguished Visiting Professor and then as a colleague in his retirement.”

Dr. Collins is survived by three daughters and three grandchildren. At his request, no services will be held nor memorial donations designated. 


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