In Memoriam: John Riedl

The Department of Computer Science & Engineering mourns the untimely death of Professor John Riedl, who passed away on the evening of Monday, July 15, 2013, at the age of 51. Professor Riedl was known worldwide as a pioneer in the field of recommender systems—a field he was instrumental in creating and nurturing—and one of the leading figures in the broader field of interactive intelligent systems. He was successful in bringing technological advances into practice; he co-founded the company Net Perceptions in 1996 to commercialize his recommender systems research, successfully growing the company to over 300 employees and substantial influence in the field; and he worked with several industry and non-profit organizations to transfer University research findings into practical advances. The impact of John's work is extensive, both in industry practice and among the research community. Software derived from his research is run by literally tens of thousands of businesses today. His work was highly recognized by the research community, and honored with awards such as the 2010 ACM Software System Award.

John's contributions did not end with his own research—he was an innovative teacher who created and lead a practice-focused course where undergraduate students gain experience in designing and building interactive intelligent systems for the Web, releasing them into wide use, and supporting thousands of users. John was also a guide and mentor, and was honored with several teaching awards including an Outstanding Teacher Award from the department, the George Taylor Award for Exceptional Contributions to Teaching from the College of Science and Engineering and the University’s McKnight Distinguished Professorship. He was greatly concerned about student welfare and was passionate about quality teaching. He was an oft-consulted mentor by our junior faculty, and a valuable resource for faculty seeking counsel on any aspect of teaching and managing students. John had a lasting, inspirational effect on so many undergraduates who, years later, comment on the formative and transformative effect John had on them.

John’s influential research and his leadership in the field brought invaluable visibility to the department and the University. John is greatly mourned by his colleagues and students at the department and University, who extend their sympathy to his many friends in the broader research community. Most of all, we express our deepest sympathy to his family, especially his wife Maureen, his sons Eric and Kevin, his daughter Karen and her husband Anthony.