The CS Department mourns the loss of Dragomir R. Radev, a 1999 computer science PhD graduate who unexpectedly passed away on March 29th in his home in New Haven, Connecticut. He was 54 years old and leaves behind his wife, Axinia, and children, Laura and Victoria.
Radev worked with Professor Kathleen McKeown on seminal multi-document text summarization research, the topic of his PhD dissertation. His first job after Columbia was at IBM TJ Watson Research in Hawthorne, New York, where he worked for a year as a Research Staff Member. Then he spent 16 years on the computer science faculty at the University of Michigan before joining Yale University in 2017 as the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of Computer Science and led the Language, Information, and Learning (LILY) Lab at Yale University.
His research and work were influential, from his widely cited paper on LexRank to his most recent papers providing datasets, benchmarks, and evaluation of metrics for text summarization. His wide-ranging research touched many areas beyond summarization. He worked on graph-based methods for natural language processing (NLP), question answering, interfaces to databases, and language generation.
Over his career, Radev received many honors, including Fellow of the Association for Computational Linguistics (2018), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2020), the Association for Computing Machinery (2015), and the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (2020). He served as the Secretary of ACL from 2006-2015 and was awarded the ACL Distinguished Service Award in 2022.
Radev co-founded the North American Computational Linguistics Open Competition, an annual competition in which high school students solve brain teasers about language. He organized the contest and traveled with top-ranked students to the International Linguistics Olympiad every year.
“Drago was a very special, incredible person who touched all of us with his energy, his love for NLP, and his kindness,” said Kathleen McKeown. “He touched so many people and has had a huge impact on the field and on the ACL, the primary organization for our field.”
Fundraising note: A small group of faculty members from Columbia University, Yale University, and the University of Michigan have joined forces to raise money and set up a GoFundMe to help the Radev family support Victoria, who has a disability. The fund will help Axinia and the family continue to provide Victoria with the care she needs. If you are interested in and capable of donating in any way, please consider giving to the fundraiser.