Frank Fallside was one of the leading authorities in the field of speech technology. His sudden and wholly unexpected death at the age of 61 has robbed all those who worked with him, in whatever capacity, of a highly respected colleague. His loss will be felt throughout the world.
Frank was educated at George Heriot's School in Edinburgh and took his first degree, in electrical engineering, at the University of Edinburgh in 1953. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Wales in 1958. He then went to Cambridge University as a member of the Engineering Department, where he spent the rest of his career.
Trained as an electrical engineer, Frank did his early research in cyberneticson servomechanisms and control systems. By the early 1970s, he was applying the results of his research to a field in which he retained, thereafter, an enduring interest, the analysis and synthesis of human speech by computer.
The field of speech technology has expanded enormously in the past 20 years or so. Frank Fallside played a major role in its expansion. In his own research he maintained his interest in the computational analysis and synthesis of speech, but he also acquired a research interest in the related areas of robotics, vision, and geometrical reasoning. As the cybernetics of the 1960s developed into the more broadly based information technology of the 1970s, and as information technology merged with cognitive science and neuroscience in the 1980s, Frank kept up with new ideas and techniques, making himself familiar with the relevant work in artificial intelligence, computer science, linguistics, neurophysiology, formal logic, and psychology. His academic distinction was recognized by Cambridge University in 1983 when he was appointed as professor of information engineering.
In his last few years Frank developed a specialized interest in the theory of artificial neural networks and built up a large team of researchers to investigate its many applications. At the time of his death he was working with colleagues in the Department of Zoology and the Computer Laboratory to plan an ambitious research program directed at establishing a ''bridgehead" between engineering and neurobiology. The theory of neural networks was to play a central role in this research, but the theoretical model was to be confirmed by neurobiological measurements and experiment. He was working on a theory of language acquisition, which, by exploiting the typically cybernetic notion of continuous and corrective on-line feedback, would draw on and integrate recent work in both the analysis and the synthesis of speech.
The interdisciplinary postgraduate "conversion"' course that Frank established in 1985, the "MPhil in Computer Speech and Language Processing," is unusual, if not unique, in being based in a department of engineering. It accepts students with first degrees in either arts or science and is taught by specialists from many different departments across the university. As an engineer, however, Frank made sure that, however broadly based and, in parts, theoretical, the teaching was, the students' projects were practically oriented and directly linked to perceived industrial and commercial needs.
As head of the Information Engineering Division in the Engineering Department at Cambridge, Frank carried a very heavy administrative load. He combined this with teaching and the personal supervision of no fewer than 20 research students and, in addition to this and other university work, with the editorship of Computer Speech and Language, with the organization of international conferences, and
with service on several important national and international committees.
As sorely missed as his intellectual presence, however, will be his companionship on social occasions: the range of his interests, cultural and intellectual; his wit and good humor; his ability to put his own strongly held views quietly and persuasively and to listen to opposing views seriously and without condescension; his moral and social commitment; his sympathetic concern for others; his complete lack of envy or malice; and, above all, his sense of fun.
For all of this we dedicate this volume to the memory of Frank Fallside.
Stephen E. Levinson