Douglas T. Ross -- Chairman Emeritus, Ret., SofTech, Inc.

Lecturer, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT


A true pioneer in computing, known simply as "Doug Ross" everywhere, Mr. Ross received a BS Cum Laude in Mathematics, Oberlin College, 1951; MS in EE at MIT, 1954; and had completed full course requirements for a Pure Mathematics PhD by the summer of 1956, but, as Head of the MIT’s Computer Applications Group, he had no time to complete exams or thesis. He started programming in July 1952 on the MIT Whirlwind computer and later, through collaboration of his MIT Computer-Aided Design Project with MIT’s Project Mac, on the pioneering Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS). The following are some key "firsts":

1954 first hand-drawn input to a computer

1957 first general use machine-tool programming language, APT (ISO Standard, today)

1959 coined the term "computer-aided design" (CAD)

1960 first object-oriented design approach for things and software

  • supervised first CAD Masters Theses (in EE and in ME)
  • 1962 - 1969: MIT Computer-Aided Design Project (with Project MAC)

    first software engineering language (AED, Algol Extended for Design)
  • ... and portable software-building tool system (the AED Approach)

    first Finite State Machine lexical generator, RWord;

    first table-driven language-definition system, AED Jr.;

    first device-independent IOBCP (Input/Output Buffer Control Package)

    first library of adaptable, reusable components ("Integrated Packages")


    CAD prize-winning papers Spring Joint Computer Conference, 1963 and 20th Anniversary National Conference of the ACM, 1967

  • 1968 first graduate course on Software Engineering taught (MIT, Spring)

    1972 first requirements definition and system specification

  • graphic modeling (SA,of SofTech’s Structured Analysis and Design Technique, SADT,

    -- its functional-modeling offshoot IDEF0, 1981, now (1994) is US Government standard FIPS#183, and ANSI and ISO standardization is in process.

  • Mr. Ross has not done all these things alone, of course. To augment staff and students at MIT, and continuing at SofTech, he also pioneered in industry, government, and academic collaborative projects:

    Recipient of the Joseph Marie Jacquard Memorial Award of the Numerical Control Society, in 1975, the Distinguished Contributions Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 1980, and Honorary Engineer of the Year Award from the San Fernando Valley Engineer’s Council, 1981 --

    Mr. Ross also is listed in nine of the Marquis Who’s Who publications, including Who’s Who in the World, in America, in Science and Engineering, in Frontier Science and Technology, in Finance and Industry, and in Society.

    Doug Ross’s personal attention is focused short term on support of the Structured Analysis Standardization efforts through IEEE and the IDEF Users Group, with extension of the concepts to a complete Technology for Understanding. He also continues pursuit of the foundations for all of his technical work since the 1950s -- a scientific philosophy called Plex, as Chairman of SofTech and paid-only-if-he-lectures (which he doesn’t at present) Lecturer in MIT’s EECS Department. The Doug Ross Career Development Chair in Software Technology at MIT, donated by him and his wife Pat, remains funded but unoccupied. He’s quite happy to await the MIT Department’s evolutionary growth of the requisite focus to make it a strong contributor to their integrated program of teaching and research. [END OF 1994 WORDING]

    Most satisfactorily and splendidly, the First Occupant of the Chair, for a term of three years now is:

    Associate Professor Daniel Jackson, of The Laboratory for Computer Science, MIT

    At 06:46 PM 7/13/99 -0400, John Guttag wrote:


  • >I thought that you and Pat would like to know that I
    >just had the enormous pleasure of informing Daniel
    >Jackson that he is the first holder of the Chair you
    >donated. He was, of course, thrilled.

    >It has taken us a long time to find a suitable recipient
    >of this honor, but in the end we could not have done
    >better. In my estimation, Daniel is the leading young
    >person doing research in software engineering, and an
    >exceptional educator. That he is a nice fellow as well,
    >is a bonus. It is also nice that you and Pat both
    >know Daniel.


    >Professor John V. Guttag
    >MIT EECS Department

    >Cambridge, MA 02139

    1/8/00 6:22PM