Obituary: Jean Paul Jacob, CITRIS Special Advisor

Jean Paul Jacob in an undated photo, circa 2007
Jean Paul Jacob in an undated photo, circa 2007

by Saemmool Lee

CITRIS Special Advisor Jean Paul Jacob, an internationally renowned expert on informatics for the 21st century, died on Sunday, April 7. As the first Founding Member of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), Jacob remained a champion of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute over the years, as well as a revered resident at CITRIS headquarters in Sutardja Dai Hall at UC Berkeley.

Jacob’s history with Berkeley dates back to his graduate years in the 1960s; he received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) in 1965 and 1966, respectively. He has been an EECS Faculty-in-Residence since 1971.

Jacob’s research interests have covered software engineering, artificial intelligence, multimedia, personal digital assistants, and decision-support systems. He has given hundreds of interviews and presentations on informatics, a view of how people will use computing and how it will affect their lives and society.

Originally from Brazil, Jacob embarked on an international career in 1960, after receiving a bachelor’s degree from Brazil’s Technological Institute of Aeronautics. Starting out as a trainee in aerospace and industrial control in France and Holland, he joined IBM as a research engineer in the company’s Nordic Lab in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1962.

During 42 years of his career at IBM, Jacob created IBM’s first Scientific Center in the Southern Hemisphere and the Institute for Software Engineering in Brazil. He was instrumental in creating IBM Scientific Centers in Paris and Mexico City and was the Scientific Consultant for IBM Latin America. His responsibilities included developing partnerships between IBM and universities. After retiring from IBM in 2002, Jacob remained IBM’s Campus Relationship Manager for Berkeley.

“Jean Paul made many contributions to CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, in research and beyond – including a strong support for diversity,” says CITRIS director Costas Spanos. “He leaves a legacy of mentorship for generations of graduate students, postdocs, and early career professionals, and will be fondly remembered by all for his sense of humor and positive attitude.”

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Featured Image: Jean Paul Jacob in an undated photo, circa 2007