Bill Paxton

Biographical Sketch

Bill PaxtonMy academic and career background is in Computer Science.  While I was in graduate school, I worked with Doug Engelbart at SRI where he and his group were busy inventing personal computing (check out the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the "Mother of All Demos", Engelbart and the Dawn of Interactive Computing).  As soon as I got my "union card" from Stanford (Ph.D., 1977), I went to work at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where they were creating new technologies like Ethernet, networked personal computers, bitmap displays, graphical user-interfaces, and laser printers.   Two of my colleagues at PARC, Chuck Geschke and John Warnock, eventually left to form Adobe Systems.   I joined them soon after (1983), in time to help build the original PostScript and later become one of the Adobe recipients of the ACM's Software System Award (1989) for PostScript's design and implementation (among other things, I did the Type 1 font algorithms starting from some of John's great ideas).

Thanks to Adobe I've been ''retired'' since 1990, and now I'm having fun being an unofficial scholar at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB).   The people at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP), Lars Bildsten in particular, have been most welcoming and tolerant of my eccentricities.   The stellar evolution program EZ was created as part of a project with Lars.  I created Tioga to make plots to show the output from EZ, and now I'm working on MESA to produce more and better stellar evolution data to plot with Tioga.

    Since a physicist can do "astro-physics", I imagine a Computer Scientist can do "astro-computing" or perhaps it could be called "computational-astro-physics".   That seems to be a good description of what I'm up to these days, and I'm having a great time!  But if I do happen to have a bad day, I can always turn to Calvin for inspiration.

Calvin and Hobbes  by Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes