In Memoriam of Martin and Virginia Davis

It is with great sadness that we inform the HAPOC community of the death of Martin Davis, and of his wife Virginia, on January 1st 2023.

Martin Davis will be remembered as a great logician and computer scientist who lived through much of the US computer’s early history. Alongside Yuri Matijasevich, Hilary Putnam and Julia Robinson, he helped solve Hilbert’s 10th problem. He also made basic contributions to connect mathematical logic with computing, most notably through his influential book “Computability and Unsolvability” which is, still today, a classic.

It was our greatest pleasure and honor to have Martin as one of the keynote speakers at the very first HAPOC conference held in Ghent in 2011, where Virginia accompanied him. The title of his keynote was “Universality is Ubiquitous” – a talk based on one of Martin’s more historical works, “The universal computer” in which he argued for the significance of mathematical logic for the emergence of the first computers. In the very spirit of any HaPoC meeting, his viewpoint stimulated a heated debate with the historians present in the room. Martin did not mind debate and this was a very typical aspect of his friendly and open character. Later in 2018 Martin accepted another invitation by HaPoC to contribute at the Special Session organised every year as part of the Conference Computability in Europe, that year in Kiel (Germany): on that occasion he showed again his unfaltering enthusiasm for connecting the past and the present of computing with a talk titled “Turing’s Vision and Deep Learning”. On that occasion a toast was made to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Above all, we will remember Martin and Virginia as two people who stood out for their kindness, their integrity, their love for one another, and their generosity. Their memory will stay alive with all of us who try to live by the same ethos.

Martin and Virginia Davis at HaPoC1, Ghent 2011