Monday, May 16, 2011

From Herb Lin

I just heard about Jerry's passing, and I grieve. As I recall, I took a humanities course from him, but my fondest memories of Jerry are outside of that class. As a graduate student, I had an office in Building 20, and I visited him a couple of times in his lab (in the 1970s). Jerry was the one who taught me how to forge signatures and also used to shout "Yellow Peril!!" every time he saw me (I'm Chinese.) I also recall that he taught a class how to hack Servend machines when the owner of the vending machines refused to believe that he had defeated their security mechanisms.

To square two promises made regarding student admissions to Concourse - one that early applicants would get priority over later ones and the other that students admitted to Concourse would be elected randomly -- he came up with the concept of a weighted lottery. Early applicants got two tickets, later ones got one. I've used that concept as the solution for all kinds of problems since I heard about that.

And yet -- I don't think he ever knew my name. Actually, it didn't matter - he was always willing to talk to me, he always said interesting things, and I always learned things from him whenever I spoke to him.

Even though I had not seen him for many years, I will miss his spirit. We are poorer for his passing, but celebrate the riches he gave us all.

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