Ali Erkan

Associate Professor, Computer Science



People lucky enough to bring their Ph.D. dissertations to completion customarily start the write-up with an acknowledgement to everyone who help them along the way. Despite popular belief, these dissertations do not usually become New York Times bestsellers and thus the acknowledgements are read by very few people (in fact, I remember reading somewhere that the average number of people reading a dissertation is 1.5; not sure if this included the committee members). So, here are my acknowledgements, on my web page, the way they appear in my dissertation... If more than one and a half person reads them, I'll be happy.

I decided to be an educator when I was watching the movie Dead Poets Society one day more than a decade ago. The task seemed simple enough: get a Ph.D. and start teaching. I never realized what a humbling experience it would be to come to a point where I would actually be typing the words of the acknowledgment of my dissertation. And as I do, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude towards the people who made it possible.

Selma and Metin, my dear parents... They invested so much into me. At every step of the way, they were with me even though they were physically thousands of miles away. Since the instant I was born, they loved and cared almost to the point of self-destruction. It is an honor to be their son and to carry their name.

Naomi, my wonderful wife... Her intelligence, honesty, and love have many times been the reason why I did not turn around and run away. I cannot imagine a more special soul-mate; I cannot imagine a better mother for my children.

Aylin and Michael, the ``little'' support system... There is nothing like the innocent face of a sleeping child to bring out the strongest determination to succeed. It was their magic that pulled me out of many intervals of depression.

And Terry, technically an advisor but truly an inspiration... When he agreed to work with me, I was crushed under the confusion of not knowing what to do after having invested years into the graduate school. He gave me the chance to work with him, to learn from him, and to engage in one of the most satisfying professions. If any of his relentless manner of thinking, his sheer drive to work, and his genuine interest to help people have rubbed off on me at all, then I know I'll be alright.

I also would like to express my gratitude to my committee members Mike Schulte, Drew Kessler, Don Hillman, Dale Parson, and Samuel Gulden. These are five wonderful people who went out of their way to make things work out for me. Prof. Gulden was very instrumental in my admission to Lehigh University and my growth thereafter. Unfortunately he could not see my exit.

Finally, I feel obligated to mention the names of a few friends, teachers, colleagues, whose support meant beyond what they realize. I thank Adair Dingle and Madelene Spezialleti for believing in me early on, Steve Corbesero for trusting me with his machines, Jeanne Steinberg for helping me with the administrative side of the graduate program, Charles Kelemen and Lisa Meeden for allowing me to learn how to teach, Jeff Knerr for helping me with so many computing needs, Jim Wiseman and Matt Zukoski for being caring supportive friends, Ruth and Shelden Radin for being loving parents in-law, and my colleagues at Ithaca College for providing a welcoming environment to put this Ph.D. thing to use.