In Memory of Doug Tygar
Professor Doug Tygar passed away unexpectedly on January 16, 2020.
Doug was a valued community member, teacher, and researcher. His work made unique and significant contributions to the fields of usable computer security, cryptography, privacy, and digital rights management. As a colleague, his sharp sense of humor, infectious laugh, and encyclopedic knowledge of all things Berkeley are irreplaceable. He will be sorely missed.
We invite you to share your memories of and tributes to Doug Tygar.
I'll never forget how Doug demonstrated the one-way nature of hashing algorithms by dumping his can of Diet Coke onto the carpeted floor... very easy to dump out the Coke, but very difficult to get it back into the can.
You will be missed, good sir.
Doug's course introduced me to Computer Security as a cohesive unit and inspired me to carry out research in this field. Doug had an encyclopedic knowledge and an intuitive understanding of the discipline and his brilliance was immediately recognizable, within and outside of the classroom. Adversarial Machine Learning, one of the many areas of research that he centrally pioneered, is today an extremely fertile research ground. My own contribution to this field builds on Doug’s legacy.
Doug espoused an expansive and pragmatic outlook on life and maintained a humorous attitude. As an advisor, he believed in his students' capabilities and guided them accordingly. I am grateful for the work and life that he made possible for me, and that I could not imagine when I first arrived at Berkeley. I aspire to honor his memory by emulating his generous advice and care towards my peers and interlocutors.
Doug was my PhD advisor at CMU in the late 1980’s. But he wasn’t my initial advisor because he joined the faculty a year or two after I started the PhD program. At the end of my second year, my initial advisor announced he was leaving CMU, and to my great good fortune Doug became my advisor. Although Doug already had a couple of grad students, I was further along in the program than they were, so I became Doug’s first PhD student to graduate.
Two things struck me immediately about Doug: his youth and his brilliance. Doug was something of a child prodigy. Although he was only a year older than me, he had graduated from Berkeley at the age of 19 or 20, and he had just successfully earned his doctorate from Harvard under the direction of Michael Rabin, a Turing award winner.
It was also clear that Doug was incredibly smart, with a vast wealth of knowledge. He was an invaluable contributor to my research and to the writing of my thesis, which included this paragraph in its acknowledgements: “First and foremost, I want to thank my advisor, Doug Tygar, for his unflagging support, encouragement, and most of all, brain power. Whenever I got stuck, I could always count on Doug to get to the root of my problem and to propose a new approach or idea to help solve it. His breadth and depth of knowledge continually amaze me. He has read each part of this thesis several times, and his comments have improved it immensely on each iteration, especially in its organization and motivation. Doug has a real gift for making persuasive arguments; I only hope that a small portion of that talent has worn off on me during our many enjoyable meetings and discussions together.” I couldn’t say it any better today.
Ours was mostly an advisor/advisee relationship. We didn’t socialize outside of school, but I did occasionally learn bits about his personal life during our meetings together. Doug had interests in literature, art, and especially music. I had the impression that his CD collection at the time was so vast it may have rivaled those of most Pittsburgh radio stations. He was also teaching himself Japanese. I remember him telling me about how on a trip to Japan he had traveled into smaller towns where people were shocked not only to encounter a non-native, but someone speaking their language so well. He was certainly a person of many interests and talents. I will forever be indebted to Doug for his guidance, his mentorship, and the positive role he played in my life.
Doug loved reading, and books have always been his good friends. He was so very knowledgeable and talking with was like reading an encyclopedia. And I found that I was going to Google to search for information, but I could ask him and get the information faster. When he was going all out to pursue what he wanted to explore, he didn’t stop until he reached the highest level. I am proud of that he made some contributions to the fields of usable computer security, cryptography, privacy, and digital rights management.
He often joked: "You were born in the Chinese cow year and called Xiaoniu (a calf); I was born in the Chinese tiger year and named ‘Tygar.’ So, our souls are destined to be always connected, no matter when, in any life." We often say to each other, "Your heart is my home. Marriage is our eternal faith. " We firmly believe.
The shared memory I have with Doug is the best treasure of my life. I will be strong for him and help to complete his unfinished goals.
Professor Tygar was an incredible thinker, a creative teacher, and a wonderful person. He will be greatly missed.