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Donald Irvin Good

Obituary for Donald Irvin Good

December 1, 1942 - August 13, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 74


Donald Irvin Good was born to Jane Mercedes Huguenin Good and Charles Irvin Good on December 1, 1942 in Newton, Kansas and died in August of 2017. His life journey carried him from a beginning on a family farmstead through a career of groundbreaking contribution to a field unknown when he was born, computer science, to a pursuit of history and genealogy. Bringing the same unrelenting search for elegance through accuracy, to every endeavor, he leaves a legacy for coming generations of the Good and Huguenin families.

After a rough start in school life, missing most of the first grade due to rheumatic fever, he graduated from Peabody High School in 1960, from the University of Kansas with a degree in Mathematics in 1964, and from the University of Wisconsin with Masters and PhD degrees in the emerging field of computer sciences in 1970. The degree in math had been a diversion from his original plan to study geology, inspired by experiences when oil was discovered on the family farm and he experienced the excitement of watching drilling and bringing in a well. As a scholarship student working for the Kansas Geological Survey, he walked the miles of rural Kansas gathering data for contour mapping. A course in the new field of computer programming led him to dream that a computer could take all those calculations and do the topographical mapping. Thus was born one of the earliest mapping programs in the country, and a new career for Don Good.

During graduate school, the years of the Viet Nam war, Don became increasingly concerned that the software controlling our nuclear arms was not reliable, and once again dreamed of a better way of doing things. As he explained to the layperson trying to understand his work, he proposed the same type of logic used to verify theorems in mathematics could be applied to computer programming. However, current programming languages and computers were not capable of working this way. He undertook research on automating interactive mathematical proofs about computer programs, entitling his PhD thesis, "Toward a Man-Machine System for Proving Program Correctness."

On completing his PhD, Don joined the faculty at the University of Texas where computer sciences still dwelt in the Electrical Engineering department. A historical note: On the website of Dr. J Strother Moore, research colleague, is this comment: "[Woody]Bledsoe is largely responsible for establishing a theorem proving tradition at UT. But others have had important roles, perhaps none more so than Don Good, who with J.C. Browne and Bledsoe established and led the Institute for Computing Science and Computer Applications (ICSCA). ICSCA was located in the 20th and 21st floors of the UT Tower. In the 1970's and early 80's, the major research thrust of ICSCA was program verification. Good and his colleagues developed one of the earliest successful program verification systems, named Gypsy."

The collaborations at ICSCA led Don and four partners to found one of the earliest software startups in Austin, Computational Logic. For 14 years, the company performed advanced research and development in mathematical modeling of digital hardware and software systems. Alumni from those days carry on that work at the University of Texas, AMD, and Intel.

During his final year in school at the University of Kansas, Don Good and Marilyn Grantham were married. Sons Michael Jason (1969) and Douglas Irvin (1972) were born in Wisconsin and Texas respectively. Always a football fan, Don embraced the sport of soccer when his sons began to play and was a dedicated and passionate coach of teams for both boys. Wherever his sons might be playing sports or performing, Don was faithfully on the sidelines cheering them on. In sports as in every aspect of his life he modeled the values on which his work was based: rational thinking, honesty, integrity, and pursuit of excellence in everything one does.

Following partial retirement from the research world, Don continued as an adjunct professor in the Department of Computer Sciences at The University of Texas, but the fields of history and genealogy came to be his main passion during the final years of his life. Working with colleagues across the country, he researched and documented with exacting thoroughness the arrival of his family in Pennsylvania and its spread across the United States. In 2014 he and Romaine Stauffer co-authored a paper, "Two Henry Goods, Entangled in Brecknock Township" published in Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage magazine. Before being interrupted by health issues, Don hoped to expand his research base back to the various countries of origin.

As much as Don loved his research projects, the true passion of his retirement life was his grandchildren, Kayla and Justin Good. His bachelor home and study were filled with toys and memorabilia tracing their growth from birth to teenage years, including a perpetual Christmas tree left in the living room because Kayla liked it. Always enjoying the practice of photography, he chronicled every game, swimming competition, and major life event.

Don was preceded in death by his father, mother and one brother, Charles Edward Good. He is survived by his sons, Michael Jason Good and wife Emily of Pflugerville and Douglas Irvin Good of San Francisco, grandchildren Kayla Adeline Good and Justin Aaron Good, sister Marcia Edmonds and husband Jerry of Colorado Springs, and brother Richard Good and wife Karen of Topeka, Kansas. Services are pending.

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