Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
The appointments of four faculty members to chairs have been announced by Provost Mark S. Wrighton.
Harold Abelson of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has been named the first holder of a new Class of 1922 Professorship.
Isabelle de Courtivron, head of the Foreign Languages and Literatures section of the Department of Humanities, has been appointed the next Class of 1960 Fellow.
Cynthia Barnhart of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has been selected to be a Mitsui Career Development Professor.
Henry Jenkins III of the Literature Section of the Department of Humanities has been selected to be the next Class of 1942 Career Development Professor.
Professor Abelson, a MacVicar Teaching Fellow, is considered one of the Institute's premier teachers whose innovations have had an impact on many campuses. Regarded as a pioneer in computer science education, he is co-author, with his Course VI colleague Gerald J. Sussman, Matsushita Professor of Electrical Engineering, of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. The book has been adopted by more than 150 colleges and universities. The subject, 6.001, which Abelson and Sussman have shaped, has been widely emulated. He also oversees for MIT the university's connection with the Research Science Institute, founded by the Center for Educational Excellence, which brings about 70 top high school science students to MIT each year to work as research interns. He joined MIT in 1973, the year he received his PhD from the Institute. His AB (1969) is from Princeton University.
Professor de Courtivron is known for her studies of French feminist writers. She is the author of books on Violette Leduc (1985) and Clara Malraux (1992). A native of Paris, she holds the BA (1969) from Colby College and the MA (1970) and the PhD (1973) from Brown University. She joined MIT in 1977 and devised a new, integrated curriculum in French literature and language. Over the years the number of students concentrating in the language has grown significantly at the Institute. In 1983, when she received the Harold Edgerton Award for outstanding teaching achievement, the selection committee said that she is viewed "by colleagues and students alike as an electrifying teacher. In her classes, learning a foreign language is not merely acquiring an additional skill, it is gaining access to another way of thinking, another mode of communicating, another perspective on the world."
Assistant Professor Barnhart is interested in transportation, logistics, mathematical programming and large-scale network optimization. She holds the BS (1981) from the University of Vermont and from that year until 1984 was a planning and scheduling engineer with Bechtel, Inc. She also received the SM (1985) and the PhD (1988) from MIT. She joined the MIT faculty in 1992 after four years on the faculty of the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 1990, she received a Presidential Young Investigator Award and in 1993 the General Electric Foundation Junior Faculty Career Award.
Associate Professor Jenkins, who joined MIT in 1989, is regarded as a leader and founder of an area of scholarship centered on the relation between the mass-media narrative arts and audiences. He also is a film scholar specializing in movie comedy in the early sound era. He is currently writing a book on postwar American children's culture. He holds the BA in political science and journalism from Georgia State University (1980), the MA in communications studies from the University of Iowa (1985) and the PhD in communications arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1989). He was the recipient of the Harold E. Edgerton Award in 1992 and of a University of Wisconsin Fellowship in 1982.
A version of this article appeared in the May 25, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 34).