Professor emeritus Ray R. Larson passed away on Saturday, June 17, following a struggle with cancer.
Larson served on the faculty of the UC Berkeley School of Library and Information Studies, School of Information Management and Systems, and School of Information from 1984 until his retirement last fall.
Larson specialized in the design and performance evaluation of information retrieval systems and digital libraries, with an emphasis on the system internals. He was involved in the design and development of the University of California’s system-wide public access online union library catalog (MELVYL). He also helped design the algorithms used in the Inktomi web search engine. He was the principal designer of the Cheshire information retrieval system, and was active in international IR evaluations including cross-language evaluations like CLEF and NTCIR. His recent research focused on geographic information retrieval, cross-language information retrieval and structured XML retrieval using probabilistic methods.
At the School of Information, Larson taught a variety of courses on the design and evaluation of information systems, including Info 257. Database Management, Info 240. Principles of Information Retrieval, Info 242. XML Foundations, Info 245. Organization of Information in Collections, and Info 202. Information Organization and Retrieval. He developed and taught the course Data Science W205. Storing and Retrieving Data for the MIDS degree program. He also co-hosted the School’s Friday afternoon Information Access Seminar every semester since Fall 2004.
Larson was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002. He was an active member of the American Society for Information Science (ASIS) and a member of its board of directors from 1997 to 2000. He was also the former chair of the ASIS Special Interest Group on Education for Information Science (SIG/ED) and an advisor to the ASIS Bay Area Student Chapter.
Larson was the principal investigator for the “CHESHIRE Demonstration and Evaluation Project” sponsored by the US Dept. of Education, that developed a next-generation online catalog and full-text retrieval system. He was a faculty investigator on the Sequoia 2000 project sponsored by Digital Equipment Corporation. He was a co-principal investigator for the “Searching Unfamiliar Metadata Vocabularies” project sponsored by DARPA. Larson was a faculty investigator on UC Berkeley’s participation in the NSF/NASA/DARPA Digital Library Initiative, and also the principal investigator of the ”Cross-Domain Resource Discovery: Integrated Discovery and Use of Textual, Numeric and Spatial Data” project sponsored by NSF as part of the International Digital Libraries program.
He held a B.A. and M.S. from California State University, Fullerton, and a Ph.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Library and Information Studies.
Ray was a loyal friend and colleague, and a dedicated scholar, teacher, and mentor. We will miss him dearly.