For those who don’t know, Bob was diagnosed with cancer in 2010. Bob’s positive attitude, his enthusiasm, his good humor and optimism: these were how he was a great researcher, mentor, teacher and coach. And these were also how he approached his disease; he let all of us believe that each piece of news about his health was a positive one. So even for those of us who did know of Bob’s battle with that horrible disease, his passing was a true shock. We admire him ever more as we learn more about his fight.
Bob was born in Albany NY, and brought up by his mother and grandmother. College was not the local norm, but Bob’s determination nonetheless brought him to prestigious Union College in Schenectady NY, where he earned his BS and MS in electrical engineering. A fresh engineer, he opened his career at IBM in 1984, and six years later moved to the Naval Undersea Systems Center in New London CT. NUSC became NUWC, and Bob stayed, for more than 21 years, working on many signal processing applications: sonar, pattern matching, ATR, data fusion, image processing and even electronic watermarking. Bob left NUWC in 2013 and had since been growing his consultancy business.
Bob got his doctorate in 1999 after some clever and principled work about Bayesian machine learning and feature reduction. Bob cared very deeply about the field: he continued writing papers (64 are recorded on scopus) that developed his ideas ever more thoroughly. He patented his algorithms and worked passionately with interested colleagues in a number of sites: Pennsylvania, Montana and New Mexico. Bob wanted his ideas applied and used; and they were, they worked quite nicely.
One of the tightest applications for Bob’s ideas was data fusion: Bob had come up with an extremely effective way to fuse opinions from different sources even when their levels of expertise and overlap were unknown. So, naturally, Bob entered the FUSION community, which probably had no idea what was coming.
Bob was a tireless contributor to our Fusion society: session chair, ISIF Fusion 2009 General Co-Chair (Seattle, with Chee-Yee Chong), ISIF Webmaster, ISIF VP of Communications, ISIF Board Member, Managing Editor of ISIF’s JAIF. Bob played a key role in ISIF’s flourishing. For example: Bob single-handedly pushed and pushed hard enough with Elsevier to get JAIF “indexed” on Scopus, meaning that JAIF now is recognized in the academic tenure process. JAIF is growing, and Bob is part of the reason that is happening. Bob loved to contribute. He loved to teach. He was delighted to encourage students and junior co-workers and the athletic teams he coached. He leaves behind his wife Cheryl and two sons Bobby Jr. and Ryan. And he leaves behind many of us who miss him very much.