(Reproduced with permission from "Giorgio Levi in Pisa", by Roberto Barbuti, Theoretical Computer Science 410 (2009) 4603–4604.)
Giorgio Levi was born in Padova on July 20th, 1942, and he got the
Laurea degree in Ingegneria Elettronica from the University of Padova
in 1966. He arrived in Pisa in 1967 following Antonio Grasselli who
founded the curriculum in Computer Science.
The foundation and the first activities of the research group are well
described by Alberto Martelli in : ‘‘... I arrived in Pisa at the
beginning of 1968, after getting my degree from the Politecnico of
Milan. At that time Antonio Grasselli was moving from the Politecnico
of Milan to organize the new curriculum in Computer Science at the
University of Pisa, and wanted to create a research group there. The
group was established at the ‘‘Istituto di Elaborazione
dell’Informazione’’ (IEI) of the National Research Council (CNR), and
included initially Giorgio Levi, Ugo Montanari, Franco Sirovich, and
myself. The initial research activities of the group were in the area
of image processing, but, after a couple of years, the group, which in
the meantime had been joined by Gigina Carlucci Aiello, decided to
modify its main research topic. Our conclusion was that Artificial
Intelligence was a new and more challenging area, allowing to combine
theoretical aspects with problems of practical interest, and we
started to redirect our research towards the topic...’’.
I met Giorgio during the academic year 1975/76: I was a student of his
course ‘‘Elaborazione dell’Informazione Non Numerica’’ (EINN), a
course of Artificial Intelligence. Giorgio was still a researcher of
the IEI and I went to the Institute to be examined; it was the summer
of 1976. I remember the (small) office that Giorgio shared with Franco
Sirovich, with a small blackboard on a wall. Giorgio, sitting at his
desk, with his feet on top of it, asked the questions and I answered
using the blackboard.
After that occasion I went again to IEI at the time of my master
thesis. My supervisor was Norma Lijtmaer, who was a researcher in the
same research section as Giorgio. During that period I was not so much
present at IEI because I got a fellowship at Olivetti SpA in Ivrea,
where I spent eight months in preparing my master thesis.
I took the Laurea degree in ‘‘Scienze dell’Informazione’’ in June
1977, and in October of the same year I got a CNR research fellowship
just at IEI. Thus I started to work together with my supervisor,
Norma, in her research section. The section was composed of Giorgio
Levi, Ugo Montanari, Franco Sirovich, Alberto Martelli, Norma
Lijtmaer, Paolo Ancilotti, Mario Fusani, and Patrizia Asirelli. In
that period Giorgio was working in the new field of Logic
Programming. His account on the IBM 370 had the name KOWALAN (which
meant Kowalski Language).
The research section was very active and the atmosphere friendly. We,
research fellows, had a good time working and joking (mainly
joking). I remember that, together with Carlandrea Simonelli, we
prepared a software trap (at that time, among the very few users of
computers, it was still allowed) which simulated the login page of the
IBM 370 and, after having caught the password of the unaware user,
printed ‘‘sempre sia lodato il pollo che ha abboccato’’ (which means:
be lauded forever the foolish who was hooked). We tried ‘‘to hook’’
Giorgio by freeing the terminal, with the trap simulating the login
page, just when he was entering the terminal room. The terminal room
was always crowded and with all the terminals constantly busy; thus a
free place was very attractive. The trap worked like a charm!
In 1980 the law 382/80 gave the possibility for the CNR research
fellows, after a positive judgment of a committee, to become
university researchers. I had a positive judgment but, because of some
ambiguities in the law, my new position remained uncertain. In the
meantime Giorgio Levi got the position of full professor at the
University of Pisa and he became the head of the Department of
Computer Science. Thanks to his efforts, my situation was clarified
and I became researcher at the University of Pisa in 1982.
At the Department of Computer Science I began my research in the field
of Logic Programming, under the leadership of Giorgio. The first Logic
Programming group included Giorgio Levi, Pierpaolo Degano, Marco
Bellia, Maurizio Martelli, and myself.
The activities of the research group started with the study of the
integration between Logic and Functional Programming. One of the first
papers of the group had the title ‘‘Leaf: a Language which Integrates
Logic, Equations and Functions’’. The study of the Leaf language
continued in the following years and it was the basis of an
interesting collaboration between the University of Pisa and CSELT
(‘‘Centro Studi e Laboratori di Telecomunicazioni’’) in Turin.
The research activity of the Logic Programming group in Pisa
increased, with significant scientific successes, up to the end of the
nineties. In 1987 Giorgio founded the Italian Association for Logic
Programming (‘‘Gruppo ricercatori e Utenti Logic Programming’’, GULP)
which is still active in organizing Italian and European research
Among the successes of the Giorgio Levi’s group I must recall the
S-semantics of logic programs, which was the starting point for a
number of research works. The idea was developed in an initial paper,
in 1987, by Moreno Falaschi, Giorgio Levi, Maurizio Martelli and
Catuscia Palamidessi. S-semantics of logic programs was used, by
researchers around the world, for understanding and formalizing many
properties of logic programs. One of the most important roles of
S-semantics was its use as a concrete semantics in Abstract
Interpretation. Most of the static analysis tools for logic programs,
built by abstract interpretation techniques, used S-semantics as the
concrete collecting semantics.
Starting from the mid-nineties, Abstract Interpretation became a new
prominent interest of Giorgio. He suggested to Roberto Giacobazzi, a
Ph.D. student of his at the time, working on Abstract Interpretation
of logic programs, and supervised his thesis on this topic. This was
the first in a long series of works concerning abstraction.
In all these years Giorgio was a source of inspiration for his
collaborators, as regards both obtaining interesting research results
and investigating new research fields, which, in all cases, turned out
to be very promising.
During the activities of the Logic Programming group, Giorgio Levi had
a lot of students and collaborators. Many of them, currently, have
positions in universities or industries. Among them I remember
(including the ones cited before): Marco Bellia, Maurizio Martelli,
Anna Pegna, Patrizia Asirelli, Enrico Dameri, Carlandrea Simonelli,
Catuscia Palamidessi, Moreno Falaschi, Piero Bonatti, Roberto
Giacobazzi, Maurizio Gabbrielli, Giuseppe Sardu, Alessio Gugliemi,
Paola Bruscoli, Roberto Bagnara, Maria Chiara Meo, Francesca Scozzari,
Fausto Spoto, Ernesto Lastres, René Moreno, Giuliana Vitiello, Paolo
Volpe, Marco Comini, Gianluca Amato, Enea Zaffanella, Roberta Gori.
In the last few years my research interests diverged from those of
Giorgio, but I continued relying on his advice, not to say the
friendship between us.
 A. Martelli. The Seventies. Springer LNCS, 5065, 2008, pp. 797–798.