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.

Su-Chu Hsu Tygar (小牛)
Doug brought me a different and wonderful life. From meeting each other in 1993 at MIT and his visit to Taiwan in 1997 to our marriage in 2001, we have had many wonderful days together. We have discussed the meaning of life. We have visited countless art galleries and listened to countless concerts together. We have traveled all over the world together, and both Antarctic and Arctic have our unforgettable footprints. We have planted many flowers and cacti in our garden together. They are our good friends. We even planted mushrooms together, which added a lot of joy to our lives.

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.
January 27, 2020
Stuart Russell
Doug Tygar was, as many others have noted in these pages, sui generis. His unique way of thinking enabled him to go outside the box and create new research areas out of nothing. He was also exceptionally generous with his time - always ready to engage in conversation whenever someone had a need to tap into his encyclopedic base of knowledge. (He happily devoted hours to helping my wife's company understand security issues in payment systems, for example.) He was also a fierce defender of students, particularly of those who found themselves struggling in a sometimes unfriendly and competitive environment. It was very hard to hear the news of his passing.
January 26, 2020
James Carney
Doug was my advisor and I only knew him briefly (compared to most) but I always thoroughly enjoyed our conversations, especially the ones about privacy and authoritarian governments. His reputation in the Berkeley security community was nothing short of legendary and I am deeply saddened by his passing.
January 23, 2020
Monica Chew
Doug is one of those people who make an indelible impression, even in the briefest meeting. He was my PhD advisor for 5 years, so had plenty of time to make an impression on me. His incredible ability to weave a narrative arc served him and his students well. After graduating, I ran into Doug at a conference -- he was wearing a familiar Kangol hat and used 'grep' and 'pick' to find an email that he wanted to share with me. I lost touch with him for about a decade, then suddenly he showed up at an album release party (my debut recording after becoming a full-time musician), geeky as ever. Doug could have been a music critic, a movie reviewer, a philosopher, a professor in any number of fields. Most of all he was a perpetual student in all things that made his world more interesting. I am glad to have known him.
January 23, 2020
Sadia Afroz
Doug was my mentor during my postdoc at UC Berkeley. The first time I met him as a doe-eyed grad student, too afraid to talk with anyone, I told him how his papers influenced me. He replied, “Thanks! But praising an author for his past work is like praising a duck for its tasty meat. The duck won’t be able to do it again.” That definitely wasn’t true for him as his work was way ahead of time, but his humor and humility made me feel welcomed to talk with him anytime, which had a profound impact in my life. I will miss him deeply.
January 23, 2020
Vivian Phan
Professor Tygar taught one of my favorite classes at Berkeley and was always going out of his way to make sure his students had the opportunity to learn and explore outside of class, whether it was developing our cybersecurity skills on real companies, or simply getting to talk to representatives from industry and other schools. As a mentor and advisor he was entirely supportive and always had my back whenever any problems arose.

Professor Tygar was an incredible thinker, a creative teacher, and a wonderful person. He will be greatly missed.
January 22, 2020
Toshiro Nishimura
Doug was my thesis advisor and professor for several courses. He had this quirky and dorky sense of humor that always made me laugh. Great guy, I will miss him.
January 22, 2020
Sauvik Das
Doug was the external member of my thesis committee. I remember thinking, before I had ever spoken to him, that it wouldn’t be easy to convince him to take a meeting with me—he was this giant of the field, and I was just some grad student he had never heard of. Still, I shot my shot and sent him an email.

I was stunned with how generous he was with his time. He was always punctual in responding to administrative requests, in providing me with poignant feedback on my dissertation, in writing me recommendation letters for faculty job applications. When I was on the job market, he went out of his way to point out opportunities that might be of interest.

Thank you, Doug. You had real impact. I'll think of you when I think of how to be a good mentor to the next generation.
January 22, 2020
Jean Camp
People don’t think, “Doug Tygar feminist icon.” But when you look at who he advised, the impact he has had, as well as how he supported me & Addie, there is credit due. He was woke before woke itself awakened.

I was in grad school at CMU, not the most famously welcoming place then, when I had Addie Camp. Addie was born in May. Doug used his own unrestricted funds to provide for me an entire summer of maternity leave. Grad students still do not have this. He was immensely supportive.

And then, when I graduated, he told me that he had not thought I could do it. But he never showed a moment of doubt to me until after not only defense, but actual commencement, when he was laughing at his own surprise. Don’t doubt that sometimes he made me crazy, but that is the essential nature of the advising and mentoring relationship. So while he was honest, he was not brutally honest. He was betting that he was wrong when he provided me with monetary, academic, and mentoring support.

I do not know how many people at his level not only would, but emotionally could do that for two years.

He made a real difference. I am one of many people whose lives he changed.

I have had the opportunity to pay this forward and told my grad student who to thank for setting this standard of advisor support. She sent him a nice gracious note thanking him. Apparently this confused him, why would someone thank him for setting such a high standard, why would that result in gratitude? High standards were Doug's default.

Anyway I am sorry he will not read this.
January 21, 2020
Jyri Virkki
Very sad to hear. Doug was a wonderful professor and project advisor (CMU, 92-93). Will be missed.
January 20, 2020

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Last updated:

February 19, 2020