[Asis-l] Herbert Ohlman

Bob Williams bobwill at gwm.sc.edu
Tue Jun 18 12:42:30 EDT 2002

Herbert Ohlman, longtime ASIS&T member and co-inventor of permuterm
indexing (better known as KWIC) died on May 27, 2002 in Mt. Pleasant, SC
following complications from open heart surgery.  

Herb Ohlman was born in New York City in 1927.  He earned a B.S. degree
in Physics from Syracuse Univ. and an M.S. in Computer Science from
Washington Univ.  From 1950 to 1980 he was a staff member with the
National Bureau of Standards, the Carrier Corp., Battelle Memorial
Institute, System Development Corp., IBM Advanced Systems Development
Div., Itek Corp., Xerox Corp., Washington Univ. and the World Health

He began his career in information science and techology in the early
1950's.  At the 1958 International Conference on Scientific Information
in Washington, DC, he presented a mechanically produced index (using
punched cards) to conference pre-print papers, calling it a permuterm
index.  (At the same conference, H.P. Luhn, of IBM, presented a
bibliography that utilized what he called Key-Word-in-Context indexing
utilizing approaches very similar to Ohlman's; the KWIC name became
better known.)  The permuterm/KWIC indexing approach had a significant
impact on information retrieval applications, particularly in current
awareness (SDI) services.  In a personal memoir prepared for the 1998
Conference on Science Information, Ohlman describes this work as his
"most memorable career moment":
http://www.libsci.sc.edu/bob/ISP/ohlman2.htm  He also presented a
paper on these developments at the 1998 conference which may be found
at: http://www.chemheritage.org/historicalservices/asisbook.pdf

Ohlman was the author of over 30 reports and articles in information
science and technology.  He was the founding chair of the ASIS&T SIG on
Education for Information Science and chaired several other SIG groups
during his career.  He was an ASIS&T member for over thirty years.  A
more detailed biographical sketch is being prepared for the ASIS&T

Robert V. Williams, Prof.
College of Library and Info. Science
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC. 29208
Phone: 803-777-2324; Fax: 803-777-7938
E-mail: bobwill at sc.edu
Home Page: http://www.libsci.sc.edu/bob/frontpg.htm

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