Passings: Lassonde Professor Nick Cercone investigated artificial intelligence

Nick Cercone
Nick Cercone

Professor Nicholas Joseph (Nick) Cercone, professor of computer science at the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University, has died.

Professor Cercone died Sunday morning with his wife by his side. He was 68 years old.

Prof. Cercone was a respected academic, a trusted colleague and a valued friend to students, faculty, and staff throughout the York University community, and far beyond.

He was a passionate leader and a prolific researcher with an impressive record of accomplishments. He spearheaded a highly productive research enterprise, supervised his graduate students and took on numerous leadership roles.

Most recently he was the principal investigator at the Centre for Innovation in Information Visualization and Data Driven Design (CIVDDD) at the Lassonde School of Engineering and a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

He was a renowned researcher in the fields of artificial intelligence (including automated natural language understanding, computational linguistics, and knowledge representation), knowledge-based systems (including knowledge discovery, data analysis and data mining) and human-machine interfaces (including natural language and multimedia interfaces).

Prof. Cercone co-founded Computational Intelligence, edited Knowledge and Information Systems, and served on editorial boards of six journals. He was a member of the ACM, IEEE, AAAI, AISB, and ACL, and past president of the Canadian Society for Computational Studies of Intelligence and of the Canadian Association for Computer Science. He was also a fellow of the IEEE and received a lifetime achievement award for his research on artificial intelligence in Canada.

His relentless energy, his unstinting attention for his field, and his passion for nurturing emerging research talent attracted widespread acclaim and admiration throughout his career.

He was the author of 400+ refereed manuscripts, several best paper awards and held more than $20-million in research grants in his esteemed career.

Prof. Cercone served as dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at York University from 2006 to 2009. He joined York from Dalhousie University where he was the dean of computer science between 2002 and 2006. Previously he was the chair of computer science at the University of Waterloo (1997-2002), associate vice-president of research and dean of graduate studies at the University of Regina (1993-1997) and chair of computer science at Simon Fraser University (1980-1985).

He earned his PhD in computer science from the University of Alberta in 1975 and this was followed by an academic career that included positions at Ohio State University, Old Dominion University in Virginia, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State and University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Once available, details of the memorial for Prof. Cercone will be published in YFile.