Harvard Professor of Applied Mathematics and Holocaust survivor, Anthony "Tony" Gervin Oettinger, died July 26, 2022, in Newton, Massachusetts at age 93.
He was born in 1929 in Nuremberg, Germany. With the rise of Hitler, the Oettinger family left Germany in 1933, to live in Strasbourg, France. After the invasion of France in 1940, the family traveled across Europe to Portugal before emigrating to New York City in 1941. He lived in Belmont, MA for over 50 years before moving to Newton, MA.
Tony was a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science and Harvard University, and a pioneer in computer science and artificial intelligence. In recognition of his work in the national security community, the United States government created, in 2010, the Anthony G. Oettinger School of Science and Technology Intelligence of the National Intelligence University.
He was known for coining the phrase "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana" to explain the difficulty in automatic language translation.
He was McKay professor of applied mathematics emeritus and research professor of information resources policy emeritus at Harvard, where he joined the faculty in 1954.
A pioneer in the early development of computer code and artificial intelligence, he wrote the first AI programs to incorporate learning. He cofounded the Harvard Program in Information Resources Policy in 1972.
From 1963 to 1967, he was an adviser to NASA's Apollo moon-landing program. He founded the Computer Science and Engineering Board of the National Academy of Sciences and chaired it from 1967 to 1973. From 1966 to 1968 he was president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Appointed to the board of visitors of the National Defense Intelligence College in 1987 he served as its chairman from 1994 to 2010.
In the White House, he was a consultant to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (1981-90), the National Security Council (1975-81) – for which he received a commendation letter in 1977 from President Gerald Ford – and the Office of Science and Technology (1961-73).
He was a recipient of the Defense Intelligence Director's Award and the National Intelligence Medallion, and he was the namesake of the School of Science and Technology Intelligence at National Intelligence University.
Tony was a member of the National Defense Intelligence College Board of Visitors starting in 1987 and served as Chairman of the Board from 1994 to 2010. He was a recipient of the Defense Intelligence Director's Award, as well as an honorary Doctor of Strategic Intelligence.
Tony was the beloved husband for 68 years of Marilyn Tanner Oettinger. He was the loving and proud father of Douglas Oettinger (wife Simone), and Marjorie Oettinger.
Beyond his family he touched and enriched the lives of his students, colleagues, friends and community. He will be deeply missed.
I knew Dr. Oettinger well – was a guest speaker for him on several occasions. He did a great job for DIA and the DIA Board of Visitors. – Lt. General Patrick Hughes
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