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In Memoriam of Melvin Earl (“Bill”) Maron

Professor Emeritus Melvin “Bill” Earl Maron joined ASIS&T in 1975. He was a noted pioneer of Information Science, especially for his early contributions to data-base design, probabilistic information retrieval, and with David Blair on retrieval performance evaluation. In 1951 Bill received his Ph.D. in philosophy under the mentorship of Dr. Hans Reichenbach, a famous philosopher of science and important contributor to probability theory. Bill’s graduate training spurred a lifelong appreciation for empiricism, and the power of science as a path to understand the world. In 1955 Bill obtained employment with the electronics company, Ramo-Wooldridge, where he collaborated with other Ph.D. scientists in his group to determine how Air Force intelligence data could be better handled with the new technology of computers. This served as Bill’s entry into the relatively new field of information retrieval. During this period of time, Bill and his colleague, J.J. Khuns, published their seminal paper that put forth a new and innovative approach to the information retrieval problem. In 1966 he was offered a job as full professor in the School of Librarianship at the University of California, Berkeley. Bill took the job and moved his family to Northern California, where he lived for most of the rest of his life. Bill’s career was highlighted by several landmark papers he authored on information retrieval and the use of probabilistic models in the design of information retrieval systems. For most of his career, Bill thought deeply about the vexing problem of how to construct searches for information to maximize what information that was relevant to the search, while avoiding unwanted information. Bill’s approach to this problem was innovative and non-traditional, and much of the work he did laid the foundation for algorithms now used in common web searches. He retired from UC Berkeley in 1991 to care for his granddaughter when his daughter passed away. Bill passed away on September 28, 2016. Read Bill’s full biography.