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.

Shanghua Teng
I came with Gary Miller to CMU in 1988, a couple of years after Doug arrived at CMU as an assistant professor. But I saw him earlier in 1986 when he came to USC for a faculty interview. He left a strong impression to Ph.D. students of my days because at his interview talk, he brilliant handled the hardest interview question from Seymour Ginsburg, --- a regular question that tripped many candidates of 80s who interviewed at USC ---  "Which part of your co-authored paper(s) is your contribution." Doug answered with skill, humor, and charm beyond his age.

I did my Major (remember the Major and Minor of our days at CMU) under the guidance of Doug, who had been instrumental to my Ph.D. progress at CMU. He had always been generous with time and advice. 

He will be deeply missed!
January 20, 2020
Dawn Song
Doug was an extremely caring and supportive advisor to me and always encouraged me to be bold in my intellectual exploration. He was always there when I most needed him. Aside from academic matters, Doug also went the extra step to help with my personal growth, e.g., by introducing me to the Berkeley music scene and helping me navigate cultural differences as a foreign student. Doug was also instrumental in building up the security group at Berkeley. Words are not enough to express our deep loss. His legacy will be continued.
January 20, 2020
Steve Weber
The world isn't quite the same without Doug. He was strong-willed and flexible; passionate and disciplined; committed and open; all at the same time. He knew what mattered to him and he stood up for it, but he never denied anyone around him exactly the same freedoms and rights. Disagreeing and arguing with him was as good or better than being on the same page -- he'd push you hard and it wasn't always fun, but I felt like he made the people around him coming from a different world (like me) better scholars and more sensitive to the mindsets and models of his discipline. He was an iconic I-school person.

And then, after a strong argument or two, we'd joke around a little about this or that Yiddish-ism.

I'm going to miss him a ton.
January 20, 2020
Patrick Riley ‘01, ‘01, ‘05, ‘11
We all know he was more than that. He was truly brilliant. His brilliance made us curious and if you were lucky enough to be invited into his office (that resembled an Amazon fulfillment warehouse with all his Amazon packages and tech), he would find a way to enlighten you.

I am saddened you had to leave the grid so early, as I know you from your enthusiasm you were only 1% done. All of us thank you for your contributions to keeping us all more secure in an unrecognizable world.
January 20, 2020
Harry Lewis
I knew Doug when he was a grad student at Harvard. Like no one else, Doug knew the importance of computer science and yet treated it as a sport, as a game to be enjoyed while you were trying to win it. It was fun to talk to him about a problem, and you left the conversation both awed and humbled. I am stunned that he is gone. A loss to the field and to all who loved him. I know everyone who knew him at Harvard would want me to share their condolences.
January 19, 2020
Jason Hong
Doug was an unofficial member of my dissertation committee back in the day. I remember him being really fun to work with, and he gave me lots of useful advice before I started as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He nudged me towards working in usable privacy and security, believing that it would be an area that would rapidly grow and have a lot of impact in the future. He also advised me to find a place in Pittsburgh where I wouldn't have to cross a bridge or a tunnel to get to work. He was very right on both counts!

Doug, thank you for all of your help, your wonderful conversations over the years, and for all that you've done for our community. You will be sorely missed.
January 19, 2020
Marti Hearst
Doug was a good friend. He was a large presence, with his huge laugh, stentorian voice, and vast knowledge of technology, math, literature, music, film, dance, cuisine, history, and politics. I have been a friend and colleague of Doug for more than 20 years, ever since I helped recruit him to UC Berkeley in 1998.

Doug always claimed to hate meetings, but he was the one who livened them up -- speaking with authority about arcana. He was always laughing at the absurdity of life and human foibles, and always advocating for principles of justice and decency.

Doug was a consistent supporter of his female colleagues in computing. Although he would claim human nature is selfish, Doug himself was quite generous. He was a pioneer in bringing usability considerations into the field of computer security, and very kindly included me in a key paper in this area. He leant servers, read grant proposals, and even gave up his office in South Hall. Doug promoted the work of others, but always deflected praise about his own considerable accomplishments.

Doug believed in the formalities of a civilized society. His requests were of an old-world politeness. At commencement, he made an unforgettable visual impression, looking regal in his Harvard crimson robes. He was also a witty poet. In response to some long ago competitive threat (I don’t fully recall, but it appears that perhaps some other school was going to give cars to incoming students), he wrote this satirical and yet incredibly skillful poem for the computer science department faculty:

Wild boars and lions haul Admetus' car.
White horses seven pull the Morning Star.
Gold panthers lead bright Bachus on his way;
Gemmed peacocks Juno's chariot convey.
By chastened lions Cybele is drawn,
And antlered stags tug fair Diana on.
Behind wingéd dragons Ceres travels,
And flights of doves bear Venus to her revels.
Sea horses still their thalassic lord tug;
But if you choose Cal you will drive a new Bug.

Doug cared a great deal about a great many things, including the role of computing in society, and the institution of UC Berkeley and academia generally. Long ago he told me that a professorship is a good job, because it allows one to age with dignity. I am deeply saddened that he was not able to live out this plan, and I will miss him greatly.

Marti Hearst
Professor, UC Berkeley
January 18, 2020
January 19, 2020
Jacky Tang
Dear Doug Tygar

Rest In Peace And Fly High.
January 18, 2020
Nicolas Christin
This news made me extremely sad.

Back in 2005, I was a postdoc at UC Berkeley working with John Chuang. I was not yet full-time in security, but Doug took an interest to what I was doing and was very generous with his time.

In particular, an event stands out, close to the end of my stay at Cal. When I accepted an offer to join Carnegie Mellon's campus in Japan, I was wondering if this was the right choice: it was far, it was not tenure-track, I had never even been to Asia...

Doug knew obviously quite a lot about CMU and had an encyclopedic cultural knowledge. He spontaneously took me to lunch and for more than an hour and a half. After hearing Doug's perspective, I came out of the lunch energized and convinced that not only Japan was going to be an amazing cultural experience, but that I could build on this position to launch my academic career.

Japan was better than what I could have dreamed of, and I am still happily at Carnegie Mellon fifteen years later.

Thank you, Doug.
January 18, 2020
I did not personally know Prof. Tyger but wish I did and am saddened by his passing. I aspire to be dedicated and successful in my career like he was. His contributions will be remembered and valued.
January 18, 2020


Last updated:

February 19, 2020