Memories of Bob Keller, Page 2

« Back to Bob Keller obituary

Brian Bentow '05


Prof Keller was a great professor and friend!

He lead by example: he applied computer science to his passion for Jazz. He taught us that combining your passions is better than feeling that you have to give up one of them. He let his passion for Jazz music motivate and drive his research.
He encouraged us to develop our research skills. When I took Neural Networks with him, did Summer Research, or Clinic, he encouraged us to read other people’s work, attempt to replicate their results, and then take it to the next level.
He encouraged us to work on novel projects of our own design. That was my favorite thing about taking his upper level classes. I convinced other students to take his classes with me so that we could work on cool projects together.
He took himself very seriously and was very hard working. I still remember when I took CS 60 from him and I was impressed that he created Rex and handled us a massive binder that he created himself for the course.
He was extremely knowledgeable and I could count on him for insights about problems that I might face.
I would email him late at night or early in the morning with a question and he would reply quickly which was extremely helpful when facing a deadline.
When I took databases from him, he was supportive when another student and I wanted to build something for Student Security Party management. He never stifled our creativity.

He made funny, snarky comments when we would have lunch or dinner together about technologies or approaches that he didn’t think were great.

I have very fond memories of doing Summer Research with him and the way that he motivated us to not get “scooped.” Ironically, we eventually got “scooped” anyway. He told me to focus on areas that are being overlooked by other people; not to follow the most recent popular trend. He predicted the resurgence of Neural Networks after the Neural Network winter. He had wisdom.

I feel very fortunate I got to spend so much time with Prof Keller. He was my CS Degree advisor and Clinic Advisor. I had the opportunity to do Summer Research, CS 60, Databases, and Neural Networks with him. We had many lunches and dinners together.

I am so grateful to him for giving me a Summer Research position as a freshman and writing recommendations for me which helped me win the Microsoft Technical Scholarships two years in a row. Of all of the great Professors that I had when I attended Harvey Mudd, Prof Keller had the biggest impact on me by a LARGE margin.

The Harvey Mudd community and I will surely miss him immensely.

William Jesset

Online student

I found late last year 2019, IMPRO-VISOR and the possibilities of this software for composing/ learning Music.
Professor Keller personally emailed me solutions to facilitate my understanding the process and best ways to navigate the application as I’d never done so before.
His kindness left a indelible mark and I wish I’ve could have know Professor Keller on a more personal basis.
Once I had heard him play the trumpet on Youtube I said “here’s someone who possibly can give me advice about playing a trumpet.”
I continue to use IMPRO-VISOR daily and it’s just the most useful of tool’s.
I have introduced many friends to the wonders of Professor Keller Musical software app.
God bless you Professor Keller. You are sorely missed.

Andrew Brown

Research colleague and friend

I will miss my conversations with Bob about different approaches to algorithmic music making. I will always remember his passion for Jazz music and his kindness and integrity.

Peter Mawhorter '08


I remember taking Prof. Keller’s neural networks class, in which I was a fairly mediocre student. But nevertheless I had some positive interactions with him at colloquia and the like, and years later when I was in graduate school, I ended up running into him at the International Conference on Computational Creativity, which I learned he attends regularly. Despite the intervening years, he remembered me and was happy to chat a bit about Mudd and my new research directions, which was fun. And despite my performance in his class, I still use neural networks in parts of my research today, and Prof. Keller’s influence also indirectly introduced me to logic programming which I also use, so I owe a lot to his teaching.

Anna Jordanous

Research colleague and friend

So sad to hear that Bob Keller passed away last Sunday. One of two hugely influential B. Kellers in my academic life. I met Bob while doing my PhD, and during my PhD corrections he helped me through the really difficult discovery that I had mis-analysed the work of his system Impro-Visor in a fundamental part of my experiments. His input was hugely helpful and he gave so willingly of his time.

I used to see him pretty much every year at conferences and always made a beeline for him to hear what he’d been up to and to have the pleasure of his intelligent and entertaining company. Even recently we were involved in the steering committee of a conference together for this October, and he thought of me during my maternity leave, to tell me about this fascinating meeting of two computational improvisers

The world will be a poorer place without him.

I hope that his website on Impro-Visor can be preserved; his research was world-leading and is of huge importance.