Douglas T. Ross

Douglas T. Ross

Douglas Taylor (Doug) Ross (1929 - 31 Jan 2007) was an American computer scientist pioneer, and Chairman of SofTech, Inc..[1] He is most famous for originating the term CAD for computer-aided design, and is consider to be the father of Automatically Programmed Tools (APT) a language to drive numerically controlled manufacturing.



Ross was born in China, where his parents both worked as medical missionaries, and he grew up back in the States in Canandaigua, N.Y.[2] He received a Bachelor of Science cum laude in mathematics from Oberlin College in 1951, and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1954. Afterwards he started but didn't complete his PhD at MIT due to his pressing work as Head of the MIT’s Computer Applications Group.[3]

In the 1954 he started working at MIT, where he participated in the MIT Whirlwind (computer) project. In 1969, Ross founded SofTech, Inc.,[4] which was an software/consulting company and early supplier of Pascal compilers. Ross lectured at MIT’s Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department and was chairman emeritus.[5] He served as the company’s president of Softech from 1969 to 1975, and afterwards became Chairman of the Board of directors.

Among his many honors are the Joseph Marie Jacquard Memorial Award from the Numerical Control Society, in 1975, and the Distinguished Contributions Award from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1980, and Honorary Engineer of the Year Award from the San Fernando Valley Engineer’s Council, 1981.[3] At MIT in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science they named the Douglas T. Ross Career Development Associate Professor of Software Development after him.


Structured Analysis and Design Technique

SADT basis element.

As the inventor of SADT, Structured Analysis and Design Technique, Ross was an early developer of structured analysis methods.[6] During the 1970s, along with other contributors from SofTech, Inc., Ross helped develop SADT into the IDEF0 method for the Air Force's Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing (ICAM) program's IDEF suite of analysis and design methods.[7]

He was a member of the IEEE IDEF0 Working Group which produced the IEEE IDEF0 standard [8] in 1998. The IEEE IDEF0 standard superseded FIPS PUB 183,[9] which was retired in 2002.

See also


Doug Ross has written dozens of articles and some reports.[10] A selection:

  • 1961. "Computer-aided design". in: Commun. ACM 4(5): pp. 235.
  • 1961. "A generalized technique for symbol manipulation and numerical calculation". in: Commun. ACM 4(3): pp. 147–150
  • 1968. Investigations in computer-aided design for numerically controlled production. With John Erwin Ward. Electronic Systems Laboratory, Electrical Engineering Dept., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 1968. "Automatic generation of efficient lexical processors using finite state techniques". With Walter L. Johnson, James H. Porter and Stephanie I. Ackley. In: Commun. ACM 11(12): pp. 805–813.
  • 1975. "Software engineering: process, principles, and goals". With John B. Goodenough and C.A. Irvine., In: IEEE Computer, 8(5): pp 17–27.
  • 1976. "Structured Analysis for Requirements Definition". With Kenneth E. Schoman Jr.. In: ICSE 1976: p. 1.
  • 1976. "Toward Foundations for the Understanding of Type". in: Conference on Data: Abstraction, Definition and Structure 1976: pp. 63–65.
  • 1977. "Structured Analysis for Requirements Definition". With Kenneth E. Schoman Jr. In: IEEE Trans. Software Eng. 3(1): pp. 6–15.
  • 1977. "Structured Analysis (SA): A Language for Communicating Ideas". in: IEEE Trans. Software Eng. 3(1): pp. 16–34.
  • 1978. "Origins of the APT Language for Automatically Programmed Tools". In: ACM SIGPLAN Notices, Vol. 13, No. 8, August 1978
  • 1980. "Removing the limitations of natural language (with the principles behind the RSA language)". In Software Engineering, H. Freeman and P.M. Lewis (eds), Academic Press.
  • 1985. "Applications and Extensions of SADT". in: IEEE Computer 18(4): pp. 25–34.
  • 1988. Foreword to David Marca and Clement McGowan, SADT Structured Analysis and Design Technique, McGraw-Hill, 1988.
  • 1989. "The NATO Conferences form the Perspective of an Active Software Engineer". In: ICSE 1989: pp. 101–102.


  1. ^ Nigel Horspool (2007). "Douglas T. Ross (1929–2007)". In: Source Software—Practice & Experience archive. Vol 37, 7, p. 691
  2. ^ Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff (2007). Doug Ross, 77; developed important computer language, The Boston Globe. February 10, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Douglas T. Ross -- Chairman Emeritus, Ret., SofTech, Inc. Lecturer, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
  4. ^ Ricca Edmondson (1997). The Political Context of Collective Action. p.36
  5. ^ Ross, Douglas. Smart Computing Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
  6. ^ David Marca and Clement McGowan, SADT Structured Analysis and Design Technique, McGraw-Hill, 1988.
  7. ^ Integrated Computer-Aided Manufacturing (ICAM) Function Modeling Manual (IDEF0), Materials Laboratory, Air Force Wright Aeronautical Laboratories, Air Force Systems Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, June 1981.
  8. ^ IEEE 1320.1-1998. IEEE Standard for Functional Modeling Language—Syntax and Semantics for IDEF0, IEEE, 1998.
  9. ^ FIPS PUB 183 Integration Definition for Function Modeling (IDEF0), National Institute of Standards and Technology, 1993.
  10. ^ Douglas T. Ross List of publications from the DBLP Bibliography Server.

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