Chandra Mohan Rao Kintala

Quick Info

22 July 1948
Berhampur, Orissa, (now Brahmapur, Odisha) India
5 November 2009
Summit, New Jersey, USA

Chandra Kintala was an Indian-born American computer scientist who worked on the theory of computer languages.


Chandra Kintala's parents were Kumaraswamy Kintali and Drowpadi. Chandra was born in Berhampur which is a town in the south east of the state of Orissa in eastern India. The town lies 14 km from the Bay of Bengal on the Calcutta-Madras national highway and the South-Eastern Railway line. The authors of [6] write:-
He lost his father in his early teens, which made him face the reality of life quite early and which had a formative influence on him, both as a person and as a scientist. As a person in the sense that he always felt strong responsibility for everything he did and for the people who depended on him privately and professionally. As a scientist in the sense that, although he loved theoretical work, he never lost sight for the so-called more practical aspects and problems of computer science.
Kintala studied at the Rourkela Engineering College in Raurkela, Orissa. The College was quite a new one at the time, having been set up in 1961 when Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, laid the foundation stone. Kintala was awarded a B.Tech. from the College in 1970. He then studied for his Master's degree at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, India. This Institute, established in 1959, was the first in India to offer courses in Computer Science. The first such courses were established in the Electrical Engineering department in 1963 and, in 1971, it began teaching a programme of Computer Science and Engineering leading to a Master's degree, the M.Tech. Kintala studied for this degree and was awarded an M.Tech. in Electrical Engineering in 1973. [We should note that the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, has three references to Kintala on its website, each giving a different year for him graduating with the M.Tech. - we believe that 1973 is the correct date.]

In 1973 he travelled to Canada to study for a doctorate. He enrolled in the Ph.D. programme at the University of Waterloo where his thesis advisor was Patrick Carl Fischer. However, in 1974 Fischer moved to Pennsylvania State University in the United States to take up the position of Head of Department, and Kintala decided to move with his thesis advisor and enrolled in the Ph.D. programme at Pennsylvania State. He was awarded his doctorate in 1977 for his thesis Computations with a restricted number of nondeterministic steps. Kintala presented an extended abstract of his thesis results in a joint paper with his thesis advisor Patrick Fischer to the Ninth Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing held at Boulder, Colorado in May 1977. It was published in the conference proceedings. Following the award of his doctorate, Kintala was appointed as an Assistant Professor at the University of Southern California in 1977.

In 1978 Kintala published Refining nondeterminism in context-free languages. Matti Linna writes in a review:-
The author establishes four infinite hierarchies of families of context-free languages based on (i) finite unions, (ii) number of nondeterministic moves of nondeterministic pushdown automata, (iii) finite intersections, and (iv) finite concatenations, respectively. All these hierarchies lie between the families of deterministic and unambiguous context-free languages.
He also published a joint paper with Patrick Fischer entitled Real-time computations with restricted nondeterminism in 1979. Ronald Vernon Book writes in a review:-
The authors investigate the nature of nondeterminism by restricting the number of nondeterministic moves in accepting computations of a multitape Turing machine. Despite one erroneous "theorem", the paper presents some interesting facts which add to our understanding of automata-based complexity theory.
As well as being years in which he undertook deep research into the theory of computation, particularly working with his colleague Seymour Ginsburg and with Ronald Book who was working at the University of California at Santa Barbara, he also married and settled into a family life [6]:-
He married in 1978 and lived with his wife Bharati in Santa Monica, where their daughter Sreelata was born, until 1980. As much as Chandra enjoyed life there, professionally and privately, he missed a close interaction with the more practical side of computer science. So when the opportunity arose to join Bell Labs in Murray Hill, he immediately saw this as a chance and moved to New Jersey in 1980, where a few years later his son Kumar was born. Those years were, in his own words, among the happiest years of his life, as the research culture at Bell Labs provided exactly the close and stimulating interaction between theory and applications that he had always been looking for. And since he always liked teaching, he also taught courses at Steven's Institute of Technology in New Jersey, first as an Adjunct Professor and later as a Distinguished Industry Professor.
The authors of [2] write about his most important contributions while at the Bell labs:-
He spent 23 years doing research and managing research in the family of Bell Labs at AT&T, Lucent and later Avaya, all in New Jersey. His last position was Vice President of Research Realization Center in Avaya Labs. Some of the noteworthy accomplishments in Bell Labs are: (a) a language and a software tool now called "Backtalk" with Dr David Belanger in 80s; it is still used in AT&T for data analytics on very large databases, (b) concepts and the components for Software-implemented Fault Tolerance and Software Rejuvenation with Dr Yennun Huang in early 90s; they are now widely used in industry and academia, (c) a Layer 7 network switch based on Linux for web content distribution in his department in late 90s; it led to a new business group in Lucent, and (d) an enterprise network monitoring system called Expertnet in early 2000s; it is still a key component in several products and services from Avaya.
Together with David Belanger, Kintala was awarded a patent for "A generator of program generators" in 1986. They describe their invention as follows:-
Our innovative code generation technique interprets a program abstraction, derived after studying a class of programs, against an attributed tree, representing a specification of problem instance, to generate a target program for solving the problem from the specification. The code generator which has two parts is flexible in two aspects. First, a basic part allows flexibility within a domain by interpreting many abstractions of problems. A domain dependent part allows the technique to be applied to different problem domains.
Kintala's work with Yennun Huang also led to a Japanese patent for "Device and method for updating software" in 1995 and a Canadian patent for "Progressive retry method and apparatus having reusable software modules for software failure", also in 1995. In total he was awarded five patents throughout is career.

Although much of Kintala's work falls outside what we would call mathematics, there is still quite a substantial number of papers which do fall within that topic and are reviewed in Mathematical reviews. Among these are the multi-authored articles Strict interpretations of deterministic pushdown acceptors (1981), Concurrent conciseness of degree, probabilistic, nondeterministic and deterministic finite automata (1986), On measuring nondeterminism in regular languages (1990), and Concise representations of regular languages by degree and probabilistic finite automata (1993). As to his teaching, let us note the courses he gave at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken. in 2005: Applied Data Structures and Algorithms; Software Systems Design - Principles and Practices; Network Systems Design - Principles and Practices; and Computational Algorithms and Data Structures.

In September 2006, Kintala left the United States and returned to India, taking up an appointment with Motorola Inc. The Company made the following announcement on 19 September [7]:-
Motorola Inc on Monday announced the appointment of Chandra Kintala as Director, India Research Lab. Based in Bangalore, Mr Kintala will oversee the work of all Motorola Lab centres of excellence in India.
Speaking of his appointment, Kintala said [4]:-
I am very enthusiastic and delighted to join Motorola. I am now returning to an industry applied research environment. Motorola Labs is at the forefront of applied research and leading the team in India will be a great opportunity as well as an honour.
After two years, Kintala left Motorola and, remaining in Bangalore, he worked for Yahoo Labs for one year [6]:-
There he was responsible for research in mobile communications, system sciences and for academic relations with top technical institutes in India.
In August 2009, having worked for three years in India, he went again to the United States to take up an academic post. He was appointed as Professor and Director of Software Engineering in its Computer Science Department of the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. Sadly he only held this position for a few months before a heart attack led to his sudden death at the age of 61. He is buried at Somerset Hills Memorial Park, Basking Ridge, New Jersey. His last paper was Rejuvenation in Embedded Systems (2009) published in the Journal of Automata, Languages and Combinatorics.

As to Kintala's interests other than his work [2]:-
He enjoyed travelling, reading, writing, and spending time with family and friends.
Kintala was honoured with the award of the Smithsonian medal, sponsored by Computer World, in 1998. Let us end by quoting one of the tributes from [1]:-
Chandra Kintala was a man of learning and insight and possessed extraordinary clarity of mind. His prodigious intellect was rivalled only by his kindness and humanity. His death is a loss to the U.S. technical community and to the nation, for teachers such as Chandra are badly needed.

References (show)

  1. Chandra M Kintala Ph.D., The Star-Ledger Guest Book.
  2. Dr Chandra Kintala (MT/EE/73), IIT Kanpur Alumni Association (5 November 2009).
  3. Chandra Kintala (MT/EE/73), IIT Kanpur Alumni Association (9 September 2006).
  4. Chandra Kintala To Head Motorola Research In India, Electronics For You (EFY)Times (19 September 2006).
  5. M Kappes, A Malcher and D Wotschke, In memoriam Chandra Kintala, Internat. J. Found. Comput. Sci. 23 (1) (2012), 5-19.
  6. M Kappes, A Malcher and D Wotschke, Remembering Chandra Kintala, in I McQuillan and G Pighizzini (eds.), 12th International Workshop on Descriptional Complexity of Formal Systems (DCFS 2010), EPTCS 31 (2010), 15-26.
  7. Motorola appoints Chandra Kintala as director, The Hindu (19 September, 2006).

Additional Resources (show)

Written by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson
Last Update October 2013