Paul Courant

I attended the conference “Licensing and Policy Summit for Software Sharing in Higher Education” in Indianapolis, Indiana, in mid-October. I have written of the conference in previous posts, and write this post to note my most pleasant meeting during the conference.

Prior to the conference a list of recommended materials was sent to the participants. One of the was a study from ithaka.org, which, in its own words,is a “not-for-profit organization in January 2004 with a mission to accelerate the productive uses of information technologies for the benefit of higher education around the world.”

One of their activities was the production of a study, OOSS (Organization for Open Source Software) Study, which produced a final report, Software and Collaboration in Higher Education: A Study of Open-Source Software. The authors of the report are Paul N. Courant, and Rebecca Griffiths. It includes contributions by Matthew Rascoff, Michael Carter, Kevin Guthrie and Barnaby Gibson.

I was quite impressed by the study. For example, the footnote on page 17 contains a discussion of “inbound” and “outbound” licenses. This is a notion I use often in my work, but don’t recall seeing so it clearly described in a report about open-source.

Prior to coming to IBM I spent just over twenty years at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (CIMS) at New York University (NYU), first as a graduate student and later as a research scientist. CIMS was the graduate school of Mathematics when I entered but later grew to include Computer Science as well.

CIMS takes its name from Richard Courant. He was a world-famous mathematician when he fled Nazi Germany in the early 1930’s. He founded what became CIMS and turned NYU into a major center of research in mathematics, much as Herman Wells, who also began his work about the same time, turned Indiana University into a major, international research univsersity.

So when I was introduced to Paul Courant at the conference, my first question was of course, “Are you related to Richard Courant?”

I was indeed delighted when he said that Richard Courant was his grandfather.

I only saw his grandfather a couple of times during my early years at Courant, as he was retired by then, but I did notice a definite resemblance between Paul and his grandfather.

Professor Courant has had a distinguished career, and you can learn more about him at his faculty page, Paul N. Courant.

Brad Wheeler kindly took a picture of the two of us, and I would like to share it with you (He’s on the left, I’m on the right):

October06 069

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  1. […] Paul is University Librarian at the University of Michigan. The University of Michigan is a member of the Google Books Library Project (You can find a picture of Paul in the post Paul Courant.) […]

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