Back to News

In Memoriam: Dragomir Radev, Professor of Computer Science

Drago Radev

Dragomir Radev, the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of Computer Science, and a beloved member of the SEAS community, passed away March 29.

A celebrated scholar on many subjects, Radev joined the Yale faculty in 2017 after years of accomplishments as a professor at the University of Michigan. With an overarching goal of building an infrastructure for computers and humans to interact in a fluent and natural way, Radev led novel research projects with varied experts across the Yale campus, including the Yale School of Medicine, Department of Linguistics, and the Wu Tsai Institute for Neuroscience.

“Drago was an acclaimed computer scientist, a world-renowned expert on natural language processing and artificial intelligence, and a dear friend and colleague,” said Jeffrey Brock, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science. “His contributions to our community, his vivacious and engaged intellect, and his kind personality will be sorely missed.”

For his groundbreaking work in the burgeoning fields of natural language processing and artificial intelligence, Radev received numerous distinctions. He was elected a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). For ten years, he served as the secretary of the ACL and was honored in 2022 with the organization’s Distinguished Service Award for his longstanding and sustained service in a variety of leadership and service roles. In addition to his professional accolades, Radev also cared deeply about students, proudly co-founding the North American Computational Linguistics Open Competition and coaching the US National Team in the International Linguistics Olympiad to numerous gold medals.

Radev was a prolific researcher, and his projects were varied and ambitious. These include his work to improve the processing of electronic health records, automated book summarization, and programming humor into natural language processing systems.

Zhong Shao, the Thomas L. Kempner Professor of Computer Science and department chair, noted that the breadth of Radev’s knowledge and interests led to his working with a numerous and diverse set of collaborators.

“Drago was an immensely innovative researcher who combined his gifts for both language and computer sciences to build an extraordinary body of research,” said Shao. “His creativity and drive helped advance his field significantly. And he was equally dedicated to his students, as shown by his instruction at Yale, where his courses were extremely popular, and his work with NACLO and the International Linguistics Olympiad.”

Radev was also a sought-after instructor. More than 200 students enrolled in his course on AI, which challenged students to build systems that can play two-player games, solve mazes, and translate texts using neural networks. At one point, he taught NLP to more than 10,000 students in a massive open online course.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science will host a celebration honoring Radev and this page will be updated when a date and location are announced. Friends and colleagues are invited to share memories on Radev’s memorial website.

Update: April 4: Radev was a devoted husband and father who loved his family unconditionally. He is survived by his wife, Axinia, and two daughters, Laura and Victoria. His daughters were the light of his life and he was incredibly proud of them both. Victoria has a disability and requires extensive care. A small group of faculty and researchers from Columbia University, Yale University, and the University of Michigan have joined forces to raise money so that Axinia and her family can continue to provide Victoria with the care she needs. Donations can be made via GoFundMe.

Direct link to original article: