• R.I.P. Paul Penfield

    From Doug White@21:1/5 to All on Thu Jul 22 01:35:43 2021
    MIT Professor Paul Penfield Jr. passed away late last month. Paul was extremely active in the APL community in the 1960's & 70's, and championed using it as an educational tool at MIT. It was used in several basic EE courses, and I remember first being introduced to APL that way.

    Paul developed an APL circuit analysis package named after his wife,
    MARTHA. Unlike the canned circuit CAD programs popular today, it was a set
    of functions for circuit analysis that allowed the user to synthesize as
    well as analyze circuits with unparalled flexibility.

    I worked at MIT Lincoln Laboratory for a number of years, where MARTHA was extremely popular. Paul consulted with the Lab supporting the program.
    Over time, various staff members (myself included) added a large number of additional workspaces to MARTHA for various tasks.

    In the late 1980's I was tasked with converting all of Lincoln's APL from
    their mainframe to run on personal computers. I worked closely with Paul
    on this, and was constantly amazed at his intellect and memory. The MARTHA code was designed to run in a very small amount of RAM. There were no comments, and Paul played all sorts of odd tricks to save a few bytes here
    & there. I ran into an error once and called him, and (without having
    worked much on the code for about a decade) he immediately told me to go to
    a specific function, and change a number on line [7]. It turned out to be
    a built in expiration date, originally set so far in the future that he
    figured no one would still be using it.

    Here is a link to his obituary, including info on a memorial service at the
    end of August:

    http://joycefuneralhome.tributes.com/obituary/show/Paul-L.-Penfield-Jr.- 108521600

    We are diminished...

    Doug White

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