University Mourns Death of Prof. Michalski

Posted: September 26, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Ryszard Michalski
Ryszard Michalski

Ryszard Michalski, PRC Professor of Computational Sciences and Health Informatics , died from cancer on Sept. 20, Provost Peter Stearns announced Tuesday. He joined the Mason faculty in 1988.

A memorial will be held at Bellarmine Chapel, 4515 Roberts Road, at 1 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28. A reception at the same location will follow the service. All members of the university community are invited to attend.

As recently as this past summer, Michalski took the helm of the new Center for Discovery Science and Health Informatics, which is jointly supported by the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) and the Provost’s Office.

Michalski was a pioneer and cofounder of the field of machine learning. To recognize his efforts to foster collaboration between Polish and American scientists, the president of Poland honored him with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland in July.

“We knew Professor Michalski had become quite ill, but his passing was very, very sudden,” says Shirley Travis, dean of CHHS. “His legacy will live on as an elected foreign member of the Polish Academy of Sciences and cofounder of Mason’s Machine Learning and Inference Laboratory. We will be working hard with the College of Science to ensure his legacy continues.”

Michalski was educated at the Cracow and Warsaw Universities of Technology and received an MS from St. Petersburg Polytechnical University and a PhD from the Silesian University of Technology. Before emigrating to the United States in 1970, he was a research scientist at the Polish Academy of Sciences.

From 1970 until 1987, Michalski was on the faculty of the computer science department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign– initially as a research professor and later as a professor of computer science and medical information science. He also directed the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

In 2003, as a member of the faculty of Mason’s School of Computational Sciences (now incorporated into the College of Science), Michalski earned a patent for the university with Learnable Non-Darwinian Evolution Model (LEM), a form of evolutionary computation.

He cofounded the Journal of Machine Learning and helped organize the first international machine learning conferences. He lectured extensively worldwide and held visiting professorships at major universities, including Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Wisconsin, as well as abroad. He wrote, co-wrote, or co-edited more than 350 research publications and more than one dozen books.

Michalski is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Marchut-Michalski; his mother, Eugenia Michalski of Austria; a brother, Wieslaw Michalski of Germany; and a sister, Yolanta Gunther of Austria.

Write to at