Edgar T. Irons
Solebury, Pennsylvania 18963


My career of 35 years has been devoted to research and development in computer software. It has sometimes involved substantial periods of actively undertaking the research and development work personally. It has at other times involved building and running a team of programmers to turn ideas into products. Ten years of this career involved teaching and research in computer science as Professor of Computer Science at Yale University. Some of the work has resulted in widely recognized publications in the professional journals of computer science. Some of the work has resulted in products of considerable success and lifetime. The areas of concentration of the work include systems for parsing natural and computer languages, office automation systems, systems for managing compound documents, compilers for computer programming languages, and operating systems for computers.

Experience Chronology

1991 - 1999: Chief Scientist, Franklin Electronic Publishers

  • Produced a grammar checking program which checks grammar by parsing English sentences.
  • Designed and programmed an internal authoring system used to produce a number of Franklin products including several product catalogs for other companies, an organizer for Franklinís Digital Book system, and another one for its Bookman system, and the Pocket Quicken product. The organizers and Pocket Quicken were among the first to synchronize data in a handheld device with a PC.
  • Programmed several medical books in Java, and then in Visual C++ for the Windows CE operating system.
  • Programmed a Java interpreter for Franklinís 8 bit 6502 processor.
  • Provided technical advice to the executives of the corporation and Franklinís CEO, and assisted in technical marketing of a number of products. Coordinated product development in several products developed with other companies.
  • Programmed the Websterís Dictionary programs for Franklinís Web Page, including a standard HTML form version, and a Java version in which the viewer can operate a simulated Franklin product. Programmed the CGI Web server which does the lookup for both versions.

1984-1991: President, Slater Towar Ltd.

  • Undertook development work for natural language systems, with particular application to parsing and extracting meaning from English sentences.
  • Directed contracted work in data base interrogation systems for a private software company.
  • Directed contracted work in extensible compilers and operating systems for super-computers for the defense department.
  • Directed the development of a UNIX office automation system for managing compound documents (mixed graphics, spreadsheets, and text).

1980-1984: Director of Research, Interactive Systems Corporation (now part of SunSoft).

  • Directed the development of the INed editing and office system for UNIX, marketed by IBM in their systems including the RS 6000 workstation.

1969-1980: Professor of Computer Science, Yale University.

  • One of the two founders of the Computer Science Department at Yale, helped build that department from a fledgling effort to a nationally recognized center of excellence.
  • Worked in the parsing of ambiguous statements in languages.
  • Designed and implemented a unique computer laboratory for use in teaching and research, in which all students, even in large undergraduate courses had access for the first time to individual state of the art time sharing for research and learning.
  • Chairman of the Computer Science Department 1977-1978

1960-1969: Member of the technical staff, Institute for Defense Analyses

  • Invented the "Syntax Directed Compiler" a technique for parsing sentences according to a formal description of a grammar. Applications included user extensible programming languages, including one of the first languages used for system programming, IMP. The publication about this work received recognition in 1982 as a landmark publication in computer science from the Association for Computing Machinery (the main professional computer science organization).
  • Programmed an innovative time sharing operating system for Cray supercomputers. This system and the IMP programming language received major usage in the Defense Department for 20 years. It was one of the first computer systems to use video terminals for computer programming, and included most of the capabilities of the very popular UNIX system 6 years before that system was announced.


  • 1958 B. S. E. Princeton University
  • 1959 M. S. California Institute of Technology

Important Publications

  • A Syntax Directed Compiler for ALGOL60. ACM Communications, January, 1961. Introduced the concept of syntax directed processing. Recognized in 1982 a landmark publication in Computer Science by the ACM.
  • A CRT Editor. ACM Communications, 1972. Described the super computer operating system and its use of TV terminals for editing text and running the computer.
  • An Error Correcting Parse Algorithm. ACM Communications, November 1963. Described techniques for usefully managing ungrammatical sentences while parsing.
  • Structural Connections in Formal Languages. ACM Communications, February 1964. Explored computer parsing techniques for different kinds of languages.
  • Multiple Track Programming. Yale University Research Report, October 1970. Described techniques for managing very ambiguous sentences in parsing.