In memoriam: Paul Hudak, computer scientist and Saybrook College master

There will be a memorial service on Sunday, May 3 for Paul R. Hudak, professor of computer science and master of Saybrook College, who died on April 29 after a long battle with leukemia. He was 62.

The Yale service will take place at 1:30 p.m. in Battell Chapel, on the corner of College and Elm streets. All are welcome. Friends may call on the family on Saturday, May 2, from 2 to 6 p.m., at Sisk Brothers Funeral Home, 3105 Whitney Ave. Hamden, Connecticut. Burial will be in Grove Street Cemetery.

Hudak focused his research on programming languages (in particular functional programming) and computer music. He is best known for his involvement in the design of the programming language Haskell, and wrote a popular textbook on the subject. He also designed a language for composing music in Haskell, originally called Haskore, which evolved into Euterpea.

“Paul was a real mensch. Despite all of his accomplishments in programming languages, music, sports, teaching, and advising, he was very modest,” said Joan Feigenbaum, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “He was warm, generous, funny, and also supremely competent — everything that one could want in a colleague. The department will take a long time to recover from this loss."

Hudak earned his B.S. in electrical engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1973, an M.S. in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Utah. Between degrees he worked at Watkins Johnson Company in Maryland, where he held a top-secret Department of Defense clearance and designed intelligence acquisition systems.

He was a member of the Yale faculty since 1982, and gained tenure in 1988. As chair of the Department of Computer Science from 1999 to 2005, he was instrumental in recruiting three senior women computer scientists to Yale and in promoting a fourth to tenure. He and two of these colleagues developed a new program of study for Yale College, "Computing and the Arts," an interdepartmental major designed for students interested in integrating work in computing with art, history of art, music or theater studies. As part of the major, Hudak taught the new course "Fundamentals of Computer Music: Algorithmic and Heuristic Composition."

He was named master of Saybrook College, one of Yale’s residential colleges, in 2009. He described his role as master as “a challenging, rewarding, exhilarating job that allows us to interact with many students on a daily basis, providing academic, financial, and emotional support of various kinds.”

Hudak received numerous honors for publications in his field. In 1985 he won a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and in 2004 was selected as an Association for Computing Machinery fellow. At Yale, he chaired the Quantitative Reasoning Council and a member of the Faculty Committee on Athletics.

An avid sportsman, Hudak served as president of the Hamden Soccer Association. He founded the Hamden Youth Lacrosse league and coached Hamden High School’s girl’s lacrosse team for nine years. At Yale he was faculty adviser to the Yale Women’s Lacrosse Team. An accomplished pianist, he formerly played in a jazz quartet, Collectively Speaking, was a faculty adviser to the Yale Jazz Collective, and always enjoyed “jamming” with Yale students and with his family.

Hudak is survived by his wife, Cathy Van Dyke SOM '86; their daughters, Christina and Jennifer; granddaughter Aubrey; and siblings Clark Jr., David, Gregory, Daniel, and Elizabeth Hudak.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be sent to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society or Be the Match Foundation. To leave an online condolence, visit www.siskbrothers.com