Ada Lovelace Day: Uli Sattler

March 24, 2009

First, I should qualify this with the following facts: Uli Sattler is my line manager, my colleague, and my friend. If she reads this she will, in point of fact, blush. But she is a “woman in technology” (a computer science professor, in the UK sense) and I do admire her!

Uli is probably best knowledge for her theoretical work on the decidability of, complexity of, and “practical algorithms” for the SH family of description logics (1999 was an important year). These logics underlie the W3C’s Web Ontology Language, OWL, which is currently undergoing revision to its second version.

It’s fun talking logic and complexity with Uli — she is well known for using her fingers to try to illustrate the construction of tree like models.

Of course, it’s fun talking most things with Uli. When she and I get really going, it’s like having more brain than I deserve in a uplifting, manic gestalt of ideas, arguments, error, corrections, proof fragments, side issues, and general intellectual breathless adventure.

Our poor graduate students have to shush us. They learn that quickly.

She also is a mad skier with a somewhat unhealthy (IMHO) attachment to her skis!

While in possession of a most admirable intellect and knowledge base, Uli is also an extremely welcoming thinker and person. The first time I went to the Description Logic Workshop (in 1995), I distinctly remember her encouraging me to join the steering committee. For Uli, unlike many, new blood, thoughts, people were to be welcomed and cherished and nurtured. She does not fear other people’s thoughts.

She turned to academia comparatively late in life after a career as a dress maker (which is so unbearably cool it’s hard to express how very cool it is). I look to many happy, productive years of collaboration.

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