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Meet Brian Becker

After having worked with us on a consulting basis over the last couple of years, we are delighted that Brian Becker joined Dyalog full time in February. As you may know, Brian has in particular been working on the Stand Alone Web Service (SAWS) – on which he conducted a workshop at the APL 2010 Conference in Berlin.

Brian will play a key role in the new 'APL tools group' that we have formed where he will take primary responsibility for the design, implementation and documentation of tools that we will be writing in APL in the years to come. Brian is based in Rochester, New York – just south of Lake Ontario. In addition to working on APL tools, Brian is also providing helpdesk support to selected US customers outside UK office hours.

Brian learned APL at the young age of 14 while attending high school in Henrietta, NY in the late 1970s. According to Brian: "I heard there were typewriters that knew how to play games in our high school math lab. As I later found out, they weren't typewriters, but rather computer terminals. Our school district had a time-sharing agreement with the University of Rochester and we had access to their York APL system."

Brian claims that he 'borrowed' a copy of APL, An Interactive Approach, learned to display the code for the games, and spent a lot of time working out how it all worked. By his junior year, Brian was the assistant instructor for the APL class.

While still in high school, Brian attended the Rochester Institute of Technology and then went on to study at the State University of New York at Albany and the University of Maryland. "APL ruined me as a computer science major because I wanted to solve problems and APL generally made it far easier to do so, compared to other languages. So, I lost interest in most of those other languages. In 1980, I took a summer job at I.P. Sharp Associates' US headquarters in Rochester, NY. That started my APL career; even when I held positions where software development was not my primary responsibility, I found ways to use APL to get things done", says Brian.

Brian has twice been recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery for Innovative Development in APL, once for his work on a system to maintain an online version of the United States Code of Federal Regulations, and once for his work on a full text search engine written in APL.

Brian explains, "APL has been the common thread throughout my career having worked in a variety of industries including financial planning, manufacturing and inventory control, voice and data network design, legislative and regulatory tracking, and risk assessment and management."

Another theme in Brian's experience is volunteering. In 1979, he was nominated to the Henrietta, NY Youth Hall of Fame for his volunteer work with elementary school children and the American Red Cross Youth Leadership program. In 1996, Brian was named the Germantown, Maryland Citizen of the Year for his work with the Jaycees, an international leadership development through community service organization. Brian says that his 10 years in the Jaycees was an incredible experience especially as it gave an opportunity to positively impact a lot of lives in his local community and around the world. These days Brian tutors students, works with youth groups, and does sound engineering for his church.

When asked about joining Dyalog, Brian commented: "I had known and previously worked with several of the people at Dyalog. I was at APL83 in Washington, DC when Dyalog burst forth upon the APL world. I've always been impressed with Dyalog's continuous improvement and innovation in their product. When Morten discussed with me the plan to bring APL tools into greater prominence, it was music to my ears. The application development groups I worked with at IPSA and STSC strongly promoted the development and use of tools. As such, I've been both a tool builder and a tool user. If I were to pick my dream job, this would be it.

"The purpose of the APL Tools group is to make the lives of people using APL easier. Communication is essential to our success. We need to maintain a dialog with our users so that we understand the tools they need today and will need in the future. Conversely, we need to effectively communicate information about the tools we deliver. We want to make sure that Dyalog's tools perform well and are well documented. I’m very excited about the path before us", Brian concludes.

P.S. As you have probably gathered from the impressive picture, Brian is also an avid fisherman. The magnificent catch he proudly shows off is a 39 Inches, 22 pound salmon caught last year.


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