In Memoriam

Barry Boehm

Barry Boehm

USC Viterbi Professor Emeritus and a Pioneer in the Fields of Computer Science and Software Engineering

Barry Boehm passed away in August 2022 in Santa Monica, California. He was 87. During his time at USC, he served as a distinguished professor of computer science, industrial and systems engineering, and astronautics until his retirement in May 2022. 

He defined an era in software engineering through his seminal work in software cost estimation and lifecycle modeling. One of his key contributions was the invention of a software cost estimation model that transformed the discipline. In his 1981 book, “Software Engineering Economics,” he defined the Constructive Cost Model (COCOMO). 

Born in 1935, Boehm earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA. Following several influential roles spanning industry, government agencies and nonprofits — including positions with the RAND Corp., TRW and DARPA — he joined USC in 1992.

William K. Pratt

William K. Pratt

USC Viterbi Professor Emeritus of Electrical Engineering

William K. Pratt, a USC Viterbi alumnus, professor and founder of the USC Signal and Image Processing Institute (SIPI) passed away on June 23, 2023. Born in Kanka¬kee, Illinois, in 1937, Pratt left an indelible mark both at USC and later in industry.

After earning a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Bradley University in 1959, Pratt began his long affiliation with USC, earning a master’s degree in 1961 and his doctorate in 1965. Irving S. Reed served as his dissertation supervisor.

While pursuing his advanced degrees at USC, Pratt served as a technical staff member of Hughes Air¬craft Company. He was also a Hughes Doctoral Fellow during his graduate studies. After earning his Ph.D., Pratt received an appointment to USC’s electrical engineering faculty. Five years later, in 1970, he became a full professor. 

In 1971, Pratt cofounded SIPI with Harry C. Andrews, with Pratt serving as the first director. SIPI, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, remains a leading research center in imaging, computer vision and related applications. In the 1970s, researchers at SIPI focused on the basic theory of image processing and applications to image de-blurring, image coding, and feature extraction. SIPI conducted much of the early work on transform coding, now the basis of the JPEG and MPEG standards for still and video image compression and transmission.

Pratt left USC in 1979 and joined Compression Labs, Inc. as senior vice president. Two years later, he became founder, chief executive officer, and chief technical officer of Vicom Sys¬tems, Inc., a position he held until 1988. From 1988 to 1994 he was director of multimedia and imag-ing technology at Sun Microsystems, Inc. He then became founder and president of Pixelsoft, Inc. in 1993, and chief tech¬nical officer of Photon Dynamics in 1996, positions he held until his retirement. 

A technological innovator, Pratt developed the basic tech¬niques of laser modulation and detection for laser communications. He was an originator of transform coding principles, which became the basis of today’s ubiquitous compression standards — JPEG for images (jpg) and MPEG for audio and video (mp3, mp4, mpg, etc.). He made many other advances in facsimile com¬pression and high-speed image processing algorithms. He held several patents related to these technologies and served as a consultant to several corporations.