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Farewell to a friend

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  • Subject: [mg130653] Farewell to a friend
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at>
  • Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2013 01:13:30 -0400 (EDT)
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Some of you may be familiar with WRI software developer Chris Hill.  He 
has posted occasionally on this forum, and has been a long-time regular 
presence at the Wolfram Technology Conferences.  I am very sorry to 
relay the news that Chris died last week.

For those who don't know or maybe don't quite remember Chris, here's a 
bit of background.  Chris is difficult to forget if you've met him in 
person, as he stood at 6'10".  I hired him in July, 2000, for a position 
in the User Interface group.  He began by taking over my old position as 
the principle Windows developer for a few years.  However, he later 
showed interest and aptitude for 3D graphics, so Theo Gray and I decided 
to put him in charge of the new interactive 3D graphics rendering system 
which we were in the process of developing for the front end.  After 
taking the system over from another developer, Chris single-handedly 
whipped it into shape in time for the version 6 release in 2007.  He 
continued to work on the 3D rendering system, including adding support 
for textures and modernizing graphics hardware support, up until shortly 
before his death.

Chris had a passion for quality and correctness, and he was exceedingly 
knowledgeable.  He is the only person to date that I've ever hired who 
fixed a bug on his very first day of employment.  Sometimes, he and I 
would wrestle a bit with some ideas he was working on because he never 
wanted to show me anything that wasn't complete, correct, and working.  
And to his credit, that was a goal he achieved remarkably often.  He 
also kept a watchful eye on quality issues in many other parts of the 
source code.  We in the User Interface Group are always looking at each 
others' work, but Chris, more so than others, was likely to be sending 
an email based upon a watchful eye catching an error from carelessness, 
human foible, or ignorance.

Chris was a somewhat introverted fellow, so he might not have caught 
your attention as a standout personality at a tech conference or on 
MathGroup, but he was also really interested in being helpful and 
understanding hard problems, so you'll probably remember if you did 
interact with him.

Last year, Chris went to a doctor after experiencing abdominal pain, 
which began a months-long struggle with colon cancer.  About 2 months 
ago, Chris let me know in his final communication with me that his last, 
best hope at treatment had failed.  He spent his final weeks in hospice 
under the care of his mother.

Chris left many friends at WRI, and I'm sure more than a few in the 
extended Mathematica community, who are deeply sad at his passing.


John Fultz
jfultz at
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

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