Presentation of the 1994 Phil Kaufman Award to Hermann K. Gummel

 

Hermann K. Gummel

Presented on November 6, 1994
A. Richard Newton

It is both a pleasure and an honor to be selected to present the first annual Phil Kaufman Award to Dr. Herman Gummel of AT&T Bell Laboratories. It is a pleasure because I honestly cannot think of another individual who has made as broad and as fundamental a set of contributions to design technology for integrated electronics as Hermann. It is also an honor, for me personally, because throughout my own career, as both a student and as a professional engineer, Hermann Gummel has played a far more significant role in shaping my own approach to science, engineering, and even entrepreneurship than I’m sure even he is aware of.

And I know I’m not alone here-there is an entire generation of design technology professionals who I’m sure would join me in these sentiments, particularly those who have had the distinct pleasure of working with Hermann over the years, as both co-workers and as “customers.”

But I know that for many here tonight, Hermann’s contributions to the field of design technology are perhaps unclear. Hermann has been as successful at giving credit to his co-workers as he has been in making major contributions himself. We really don’t have enough time tonight to do justice to all of the many contributions Hermann and his group have made over the years, so I’ve chosen a few just to illustrate the many aspects of this remarkable man. I’ll begin with the science.

Anyone who has used the SPICE program or one of its many clones knows Hermann’s name from the integral charge control model, or Gummel-Poon model, for bipolar junction transistors. This model was an outgrowth of work that led to the integral charge relation, a fundamental result in semiconductor device physics-some of you may have heard of the Gummel Number, a term used to characterize a particular property of semiconductor materials. In fact, if you plot the collector current of a bipolar transistor as a function of its collector-emitter voltage, you have just produced what is known as a Gummel plot. When Hermann began this work with Sam Poon, the appropriate numerical tools were not available to produce the results Hermann needed in his modeling work so he even invented a self-consistent iterative approach to the solution of certain semiconductor equations to solve that problem as well! I cannot think of any other individual in our field who has his name associated directly with as many algorithms, results and models as Hermann. The main reason that most of today’s engineering professionals are not as aware of this work as they might be is really the demise of the bipolar junction transistor-an outcome quite beyond Hermann’s control. However, many of the techniques and approaches that Hermann pioneered in this area have had a major influence on today’s device modeling and analysis systems. To summarize this aspect of Hermann’s work, I quote a former colleague as follows: “Hermann is a perfectionist. If he does it, he always wants to do it right. …And he always does!”

On the engineering side, Hermann has always demonstrated a strong interest in the application of his work-its usefulness to others. In fact, it is worth noting that one of his nominators for this award was formerly one of his customers; a user. Hermann has always tried to understand a problem thoroughly, find an appropriate representation for it, and then apply the mathematics and computer science needed to solve it. A classic example of such a contribution was his development of the MOTIS timing simulator in the early 1970s. While I think Hermann would agree with me that none of the specific mathematical techniques used in MOTIS was new in and of itself, it was the combination of techniques, data structures, and code that produced a simulation system that had a very broad impact. Once the work was published, it was implemented and extended in virtually every major semiconductor house and at many universities throughout the world. I was personally involved in the development of one such version, MOTIS-C at Berkeley, and so I can personally attest to both the elegance and the engineering insight Hermann gave us all in that work. In terms of a direct, contemporary contribution, the MOTIS work-first published almost twenty years ago-is still having a major industrial impact in the form of the techniques used in almost all of today’s fast analog simulators. Hermann was also the first to build and publish a practical device extractor-part of what we would now call ERC. His HCAP program was an important tool within AT&T for many years and I believe that it is still in use in parts of AT&T today. He also built a very successful graphical editor, called GRED, and perhaps this example best illustrates another aspect of Hermann Gummel. His colleagues told me that before he built GRED, Hermann would sit beside the designers for hours on end, watching how they did their work, how they implemented commands, the number of keystrokes needed, taking notes and thinking about ways to improve their efficiency. From device physics to human interfaces, Herman realized that good engineering-in terms of the synergistic combination of science and mathematics coupled with ease-of-use-was essential to delivering the full potential of his work to his user community.

Finally, a word about Hermann’s entrepreneurial achievements. In today’s design technology world, when we think of an entrepreneur we often equate that with starting a new company. So you might ask, what is it about what I have said tonight that has anything to do with entrepreneurship? After all, Hermann has spent his entire design technology career at AT&T Bell Labs. An entrepreneurial spirit is about much more than starting companies. It is about vision, about motivating others, and about following through no matter what the odds. It is about moving into new and uncharted areas and overcoming the inevitable resistance and inertia. It is about not giving up on what you believe in. No one who has been close to Hermann could ever doubt that he is one of the most consummate entrepreneurs of his time, or of any time. He motivated generations of his colleagues, both within Bell Labs and truly throughout the world. He is a mentor. He is a leader. Most importantly, he got the job done. I will relate one story from a former colleague who asked to remain anonymous. Hermann and his group were some of the first to use minicomputers for CAD applications-mostly HP2100 series machines in the 1970s. Now one might argue that this was an example of profound insight, that Hermann and his group could see the day of the workstation coming and so were preparing themselves for this important development. Actually, I have it on good authority that the major factor at play here was that Hermann just did not like working with big, bureaucratic computer centers. In fact, to purchase his first minicomputer he had to split the expense across a number of purchase orders and buy the machine in parts, keeping each piece under the computer center approval limit. Then he assembled the machine personally from the various bits and pieces! Without doubt, Hermann is also an entrepreneur.

Dr. Hermann Gummel has certainly been, and remains, an inspiration to those who have had the good fortune to spend time with him and many who have worked for Hermann over the years have also moved on to entrepreneurial careers of their own, in most of the companies represented here tonight. Just last week, a former graduate student of mine, now a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Labs, visited me at Berkeley and we were talking about his work and how things were going at Bell. Although Hermann has been officially in retirement now for some time, he still spends most of his time at Bell Labs and is still working on important and relevant problems-now concerning MOS integrated circuits rather than bipolar transistors. As my former student spoke about the time he has spent with Hermann over recent months, I could sense the excitement in his voice and a certain brightness in his eyes, and for a moment I was transported back almost twenty years to my own first meetings with Hermann. Hermann remains the inspiration he has always been.

Of course, I know Hermann would want me to add that he has had the benefit of working with many talented people over the years and that is true. However, Hermann is the common denominator, the common thread through all of this work. So, in summary, on behalf of Mrs. Kaufman, EDAC, and all present here tonight, I am both pleased and honored to be able to present the Phil Kaufman Award to Dr. Hermann Gummel, an accomplished scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur. And, truly, a founder of the industry we are all proud to be a part of today.