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William G. "Bill" Bail

Dr. William G. "Bill" Bail passed away on December 7, 2020. Bill was a loyal "friend of Ada" throughout his career. Bill worked for the MITRE Corporation for thirty years, starting in 1990 and was a Principal Computer Scientist in the Software Engineering & Computing (SWEC) Department, supporting various programs with his extensive knowledge, experience, and insights. Prior to working at MITRE, Bill worked at Intermetrics Inc. in Bethesda MD where, among many other things, he was involved with the early development and use of Ada. He continued to raise awareness of Ada while at MITRE, always looking for places where the use of Ada would enhance the various programs he supported.

Bill earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland and among his many technical areas of expertise in the software world included dependable software design and assessment, error handling policies, techniques for software specification development, design methodologies, metrics definition and application, and verification and validation. Much of Bill's notable work at MITRE was supporting the U.S. Navy, focusing on the proper practice of software engineering as applied to large real-time command and control systems.

While at Intermetrics, Bill also served as a part-time Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland University College where he developed instructional materials and taught courses in software engineering, covering topics such as Software Requirements, Verification and Validation, Software Design, Software Engineering, and Fault Tolerant Software.

A well-published professional and frequent software-related conference participant, Bill was particularly known and respected for his tutorial presentations on Cleanroom Software Engineering, Semi-Formal Development Techniques, and Statistical Testing, and Requirements Engineering for Dependable Systems at national and international venues for SIGAda, Ada-Europe, the Systems & Software Technology Conference (SSTC), the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Systems Engineering Conference, and others.

Bill's sharing of knowledge and expertise was hardly limited to professional conference attendees. Always available to his MITRE colleagues, Bill was actively involved in mentoring early career staff as well as providing document and product reviews for the work program across MITRE that helped to ensure delivery of high quality, and impactful studies and recommendations to its sponsors.

And finally, in his personal life, Bill was a loving husband to Julia, father to Evin, and grandfather to her sons. His legacy is a life well-lived with everyone remembering him as a gentleman and a gentle man. He will be missed by all.

Robert C. "Bob" Leif

Dr. Robert Leif, one of SIGAda's hardest working volunteers, passed away on August 3, 2020; he was 82 years old. After gaining he Ph.D., he worked and taught at several companies and universities in Florida. While at Coulter Corporation, Bob was an early adopter of the Ada programming language and foresaw many of the modern digital information products used by the medical industry. He was always a strong proponent of open standards which was one reason he became involved with the Ada programming language. After his family's move to the San Diego area, Bob became involved with the local SIGAda organization. He was a former chair of San Diego SIGAda and served as the Conference Chair for SIGAda 2003 held in San Diego.

Obituaries and Memorials:

David Cook

David A. Cook, Past Chair of SIGAda, passed away on May 28, 2020; he was 65 years old. David (Cookie) Cook served as SIGAda Chair from 2013-2016 and Past Chair from 2017 to the present. Cookie will long be remembered for his sense of humor, his smile, and his unique teaching style.

Obituaries and Memorials:

William Currie Colket

William Currie Colket

On behalf of SIGAda, we regret to announce the passing of Mr. William Currie Colket, a staunch supporter of the Ada Programming Language and especially the Ada Semantic Interface Specification (ASIS). He passed away on December 23, 2015, in Idaho, surrounded by family.

Currie served as Chair of SIGAda from 1997 to 2000 and as Chair of the ASIS Working Group (ASISWG), overseeing the development of ASIS into an International Standard. He was a personal friend of mine even during retirement and continued to invite friends of Ada into his home in Bradenton, Florida, when SIGAda held its conference in Tampa Bay in 2009. Indeed, he will be remembered...Clyde Roby.

Robert Dewar

Dr. Robert Dewar

On behalf of SIGAda, we regret to announce the passing of Dr. Robert Dewar, one of the co-counders of AdaCore, and a enormous force in the early development and continuing success of the Ada Programming Language. He passed away on 30 June 2015, at home, surrounded by family.

For many of our members, Robert was a friend and advisor. As Chair of SIGAda, I personally compiled my very first Ada program in a workshop that Robert taught. Robert's passing leaves a void in the entire computing community, and especially in the Ada world. He will be long remembered...David Cook.

Robert among the Participants of IRTAW at his home in April 2015

William Whitaker

Colonel William Whitaker

Colonel William A. Whitaker (USAF, Retired) passed away on Tuesday, December 14, 2010.

A primary goal of Col. Whitaker was to develop a common language for the DoD (originally given the name "DoD-1"). David A. Fisher solicited requirements for such a language across the DoD services. His first attempt at summarizing those inputs was called Strawman. Each successive requirements document reflected what the eventual language needed to be. Fortunately, these documents are still available online, thanks to Mary S. Van Deusen:

  • Strawman, The Technical Requirements, April 1975
  • Woodenman, The Needed Characteristics, August 1975
  • Tinman, January 1976
  • Ironman, January 1977, revised July 1977
  • Steelman, The Technical Requirements, June 1978

While at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Col. Whitaker worked on the Ada Programming Language. He authored the paper Ada - The Project; The DoD High Order Language Working Group (online at the AdaIC Archive).

In retirement, he created the Latin-to-English translation software program, "Whitaker's Words" (written in Ada). From

[It] parses the inflection or conjugation of a Latin word, and also translates the root into English. Given an English word, the program outputs Latin translations. The software, written in Ada, is free for download but can be used online through several different hosts as well.

This program, especially the online version, has gained popularity among Latinists because of its simple interface, high coverage of the Latin lexicon and mostly accurate results. Nevertheless, the user has to check the results, since Words uses a set of rules based on natural pre-, in-, and suffixation, declension, and conjugation to determine the possibility of an entry. As a consequence of this approach of analysing the structure of words, there is no guarantee that these words were ever used in Latin literature or speech, even if the program finds a possible meaning to a given word.

A few years after Col. Whitaker's death, the software became the subject of active digital preservation efforts. It is now an Open Source project.

At FOSDEM'16, Martin Keegan of Unipart & Open Book Publishers presented his experiences of adopting the maintenance of Whitaker's Words from the perspective of someone from outside the Ada community (Adopting an Ada Program - the Experience of Whitaker's Words).

In 1994, Col. Whitaker was awarded SIGAda's Outstanding Ada Community Contributions Award.

The most recent snapshot of his website (from early 2009) is still available at

Peter Amey

Peter Amey

It is with great sadness that AdaCore learnt of the passing of Peter Amey last Thursday (April 3, 2008). Peter had been a long-term friend of many members of the AdaCore team through his work leading the SPARK Ada project and more generally through his interest and expertise in the areas of Safety and Security. Our thoughts and condolences go to his family, friends, and colleagues at this time.

Jean Ichbiah

Jean Ichbiah

Jean David Ichbiah passed away on January 26, 2007. He was a French computer scientist and the initial chief designer (from 1977-1983) of Ada, a general-purpose,strongly typed programming language with certified validated compilers.

Ichbiah's team submitted the language design labelled "Green" to the competition to choose the United States Department of Defense's embedded programming language. When Green was selected in 1979, he continued as chief designer of the language, named "Ada".

Last Update: 7 May 2021