Jean Vaucher
Jean Vaucher is full professor in the Department of Computer Science (Informatique) at the University of Montreal. He has been with the Department since 1970 and was its chairman from 1980 to 1983. Dr. Vaucher has been active in many top-level committees including NSERC's Grants Selection Committee for Computing and Information Sciences of which he was chairman from 1979 to 1980, Quebec's FCAC. His main areas of research include object technology, artificial intelligence and simulation. He is also one of the 5 founding members of Montreal's CRIM.

Born in Québec City in 1942, Jean Vaucher spent seven early years in France where his father worked at the Canadian Embassy. The resulting accent would confuse his colleagues for years to come. Returning to Canada in 1953, he attended UTS in Toronto, Nepean in Ottawa and the University of Ottawa, graduating in 1962 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. An Athlone Fellowship then brought him to Manchester (UK) where he rubbed elbows and downed pints with such computer notables as Williams and Kilburn. He obtained a PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1968 and returned to Montreal where he joined IBM. There he got exposed to the application side of the business and achieved "Top performer" status in 1970.

That same year, he taught a course on simulation at the Université de Montréal and stayed on as a full-time professor. Initially, Vaucher's expertise led him to set up a hardware laboratory but soon, his interest in simulation brought him in contact with Simula, the first object-oriented language, which supported parallel activity and was ideally suited to simulation. The man who introduced him to Simula was Alain Colmerauer, who was working on automatic translation and would later invent Prolog. In this heady environment, Vaucher soon abandonned hardware to concentrate on simulation, algorithms and programming methodology. Early on, he developped GPSSS, a Simula framework which had the same functionality as GPSS, IBM's special purpose simulation language. This was the first Object Oriented package developped outside the Simula team and it demonstrated the power and flexibility of Object Oriented Programming in an era where programmers relied on GOTOs and packages were limited to subroutines.

Through Simula, Vaucher became a friend of Kristen Nygaard and they exchanged regularly over the years. In particular, Vaucher came up with the idea of prefixed procedures, whereby methods could inherit from other methods and usefully extend their actions. This paralleled Nygaard's thinking on patterns which eventually saw the light in the Beta language.

Vaucher also worked on improving the efficiency of scheduling in simulation. The work on event-lists was published in CACM and for a while his indexed-list algorithm was the fastest available.

He then moved on to logic programming trying to evolve tools and techniques for 'intelligent programming'. He set up the Incognito (Informative Cognitive) Laboratory with some colleagues who had worked on the TAUM project. This led to several prototypes involving logic, objects and parallel execution. Another interesting project, sponsored by IBM, concerned the usefulness of logic programming for industrial software development. The product was MMS, a communication package for automated factories. The Prolog tools developped used the API with over 2000 declarations as a knowledge base from which to automatically generate test programs for all functions.

Inspired by the simplicity of papers written by a botanist forebear who studied the fall of leaves around 1800, Vaucher is especially proud of several miniature papers dealing such topics as efficient construction of compact trees, pretty-printing and the fallacy of trying to correct sequence errors.

In recent years, Professor Vaucher has studied distributed agent systems and wrote a compact Prolog interpreter for agents which has found its way into several other packages.