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KING-SUN FU 1930-1985 BY M. E. VAN VALKENBURG KING SUN FU W M. Goss Distinguished Professor of Engi- neering at Purdue University and pioneer and universally ac- cIaimed leader in the field of syntactic pattern recognition, died of a sudden heart attack on April 29, 1985, in Washing- ton, D.C. His cleath came while he was attending a National Research Council dinner celebrating the National Science Foundation's creation of six new engineering research cen- ters. Professor Fu was director of one of the centers the new Intelligent Manufacturing Center at Purdue University. King-sun Fu was born in Nanking, China, on October 2, 1930. He received a B.S. from the National Taiwan Univer- sity in 1953, an M.S. from the University of Toronto in 1955, and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois in 1959, all in electrical engineering. From the beginning, Professor Fu saw no conflict between basic research and its applications. He believes! that if the basic research were sufficiently deep and powerful, it would solve many Circuit practical problems. Conversely, he be- lieved that important practical problems were not to be suc- cessfuliy solved by act hoc methods without involving a deep theoretical foundation. While still in Taiwan, King-sun Fu worked in inclustry, first at the Taiwan Power Company and later with the Chinese Broadcasting Company. After he received his doctorate, he 175
176 MEMORIAL TRIBUTES made the difficult decision to gain further experience by joining the Boeing Airplane Company as a research engineer in 1959. The desire to teach never left him, however, and during the spring of 1960 Professor Fu taught a course at Seattle University. The following fall, he accepted an ap- pointment at Purdue University. Shortly after Dr. Fu's arrival at Purdue, his department head, the late Thomas F. ~ones, suggested that Dr. Fu spend a semester at the Research Laboratory of Electronics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That laboratory ex- perience changed the path of his professional life because it marked the initiation of Professor Fu's interest in pattern recognition. On his return to Purdue, Dr. Fu's interests ex- pandec! to such topics as machine intelligence, image pro- cessing, computer vision, and expert system clevelopment. Dr. Fu was known for his innovative ideas and his practical applications of them for example, the identification and classification of crops from remotely sensed multisectorial data, the detection of irracliated chromosomes, and the com- puterization of a blooc! cell classification system. He also de- velopecl X-ray techniques for the automatic diagnosis of ab- normalities of lungs, heart, liver, and pancreas. Other of his X-ray applications involved the identification and cIassifica- tion of fingerprints. Even more recently, Dr. Fu's methods have been applied to integrated circuit chip and metal sur- face inspections, which are both important to industrial au- tomation. At the time of his death, Professor Fu hac! supervised seventy-five Ph.D. students who now hold positions of lead- ership in industry and academia. In addition, he published more than three hundred papers and four books. Throughout his professional career, King-sun Fu received numerous awards and much recognition. The most impor- tant of these are the American Society for Engineering Edu- cation Senior Research Award (1981), the Institute of Elec- trical ant! Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Education Medal (1982), and the Harry Goocle Memorial Award from the
KING-SUN FU 177 American Federation of Information Processing Societies (19821. King-sun Fu was electecI to the National Academy of Engineering in 1976. Dr. Fu was the founding editor of the journal IEEE Trans- actions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence. In addition, he server! his profession in many other ways for example, as vice-president for publications of the IEEE Computer So- ciety and as the first presiclent of the International Associa- tion for Pattern Recognition. From 1965 until his death, he held more than forty-five volunteer positions in various or- ganizations mostly those of the IEEE. He was also a visiting professor at Stanforc! University as a Guggenheim fellow and a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley on two different occasions. Dr. Fu traveled widely, especially to assist his colleagues in Taiwan. He was frequently a member of American clelega- tions to international conferences in such places as Moscow, Warsaw, Copenhagen, and Tokyo. King-sun met his wife, Viola, while they were students at the University of Illinois. Thereafter, Viola was a constant companion throughout his lifetime of adventures. They had two sons, Francis and Thomas, ant] a daughter, June. King-sun Fu never (leclinecl requests for help from his col- leagues ant! students, whether clay or night. He never asked for credit for himself. His greatness as a researcher, teacher, and person continues to shine through.