David Hillel Gelernter (born March 5, 1955)[1] is an American artist, writer, and professor of computer science at Yale University. He is a former national fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and senior fellow in Jewish thought at the Shalem Center, and sat on the National Endowment for the Arts. He publishes widely; his work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Los Angeles Times, Weekly Standard, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, and elsewhere. His paintings have been exhibited in New Haven and Manhattan.

He is known for contributions to parallel computation and for books on topics including computed worlds (Mirror Worlds), and what he sees as the destructive influence of liberal academia on American society, expressed in his book America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats).

In 1993 he was sent a mail bomb by Ted Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber, which almost killed him and left him with some permanent disabilities: he lost the use of his right hand and his right eye was permanently damaged.[2]

Life and work

David Gelernter's father was computer science professor Herbert Gelernter.[3] Gelernter received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in classical Hebrew literature from Yale University in 1976 and his Ph.D. from S.U.N.Y. Stony Brook in 1982.

In the 1980s, he made seminal contributions to the field of parallel computation, specifically the tuple space coordination model, as embodied by the Linda programming system (named for Linda Lovelace, an actress in the porn movie Deep Throat, mocking Ada's tribute to Ada Lovelace).[4]Bill Joy cites Linda as the inspiration for many elements of JavaSpaces and Jini.[5]

On June 24, 1993, Gelernter was severely injured opening a mail bomb sent by the Unabomber. He recovered from his injuries, but his right hand and eye were permanently damaged.[6] He chronicled the ordeal in his 1997 book Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber.

He helped found the company Mirror Worlds Technologies, which in 2001 released Scopeware software using ideas from his 1992 book Mirror Worlds. Gelernter believed that computers can free users from being filing clerks by organizing their data. The company announced it would "cease operations effective May 15, 2004". On May 23, 2013, a related company Mirror Worlds, LLC filed a complaint of patent infringement against Apple Inc., Best Buy Co. Inc., Dell Inc., Hewlett Packard Co., Lenovo (United States) Inc., Lenovo Group Ltd., Microsoft Corporation, Samsung Electronic USA Inc, Samsung TeleCommunications America, LLC in the Texas Eastern District Court (case no. 6:2013cv00419).[7] As of the end of 2015, the case is ongoing.[7] The case has been considered by the Supreme Court of the United States but a Petition for certiorari was denied on June 24, 2013.[8]

In 2003, he was nominated became a member of the National Council on the Arts.[9]

Gelernter contributes to magazines such as City Journal, The Weekly Standard, and Commentary which are generally considered neoconservative. For seven months, he contributed a weekly op-ed column to the LA Times.

Gelernter is known for his critiques of cultural illiteracy on America's college campuses. In 2015, he commented, "They [students] know nothing about art. They know nothing about history. They know nothing about philosophy. And because they have been raised as not even atheists, they don’t rise to the level of atheists, insofar as they’ve never thought about the existence or nonexistence of God. It has never occurred to them. They know nothing about the Bible." [10]

He has, however, been criticized for the implicit antisemitism of his work, which blames Jewish intellectuals for the decline of American academia. [11]

Book reviews

Gelernter's book Mirror Worlds (1991) "prophesied the rise of the World Wide Web."[12] Bill Joy, founder and Chief Scientist of Sun Microsystems, says Gelernter is "one of the most brilliant and visionary computer scientists of our time.”[12]The New York Times called him a computer science "rock star".[13]

Gelernter's book, Judaism (2009), is "one of the most original interpretations of Judaism I have ever read" (Michael Novak) and "a new Psalter" (Cynthia Ozick).[14]

In America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats), Gelernter argues that American higher education has become more leftist, "thrusting", and "belligerent", due to "an increasing Jewish presence at top colleges".[15] Stephen Daisley wrote in Commentary Magazine that Gelernter portrays Obama's presidency as a symbol of the failure of American education and the success of its replacement with a liberal indoctrination system. As a solution, Gelernter proposes moving all of human knowledge to online servers so that the in-person college experience can be replaced by user-driven self-education. Daisley wrote, "America-Lite is lean, incisive convincing, delightfully indelicate, and, in a break from the conventions of the literature on education, honest. It is a fine dissection—de-construction, if you must—of the corruption of higher education and the resulting debasement of political culture. If it makes its way on to a single college reading list, Hell will have frozen over."[16]

Russell Jacoby was sharply dismissive in his review of Gelernter's book America-Lite. Among other criticisms he made, Jacoby said that Gelernter blamed intellectuals for causing the breakdown of patriotism and the traditional family but never explained how that came about.[15]

Selected works


  • With David Padua and Alexandru Nicolau. Languages and Compilers for Parallel Computing. Hardcover ed. Mass. Instit. of Tech. Pr., 1990.
  • With Suresh Jagannathan. Programming Linguistics. Hardcover ed. Mass. Instit. of Tech., 1990.
  • With Nicholas Carriero. How to Write Parallel Programs: A first course. Hardcover ed. Mass. Instit. of Tech. Pr., 1990.
  • Mirror Worlds: or the Day Software Puts the Universe in a Shoebox...How It Will Happen and What It Will Mean. 1st ed. Oxford Univ. Pr., 1992.
  • The Muse in the Machine: Computerizing the Poetry of Human Thought. Hardcover ed. MacMillan, Inc., 1994.
  • 1939: the Lost World of the Fair. Paperback ed. HarperCollins Pub., 1996.
  • Drawing Life: Surviving the Unabomber. Hardcover ed. Simon & Schuster Adult Pub. Group, 1997.
  • The Aesthetics of Computing. Paperback ed. Phoenix (Orion Books Ltd, UK), 1998.
  • Machine Beauty: Elegance and the Heart of Technology. Paperback ed. Perseus Pub., 1998.
  • Americanism: The Fourth Great Western Religion. Hardcover ed. Doubleday., 2007.
  • Judaism: A Way of Being. Yale University Press, 2009.
  • America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered in the Obamacrats). Encounter Books, 2012, ISBN 978-1594036064
  • The Tides of Mind: Uncovering the Spectrum of Consciousness. Liveright, 2016./W.W. Norton.


  • Three programming systems and a computational 'model of everything' . in Peter J. Denning, ed., ACM’s new Visions-of-computing Anthology, 2001.
  • Twentieth Century Machines. in R. Stolley, ed., Life Century of Change (2000).
  • Computers and the pursuit of happiness. Commentary, Dec 2000.
  • Now that the PC is dead...,. Wall Street Journal millennium issue, 2000
  • The Inside-Out Web. Forbes, Apr 2007.
  • "Machines That Will Think and Feel: Artificial intelligence is still in its infancy—and that should scare us", Wall Street Journal, March 18, 2016.

Political articles


  1. ^ "Birthdatabase Index". 
  2. ^ "Unabomber’s act still affects prof. Gelernter". 
  3. ^ "A Life That Made Sense," by David Gelernter, The Weekly Standard, September 7, 2015, at 5.
  4. ^ Markoff, John (January 19, 1992). "David Gelernter's Romance With Linda". The New York Times. 
  5. ^ "More than just another pretty name – SunWorld – August 1998". Sunsite.uakom.sk. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  6. ^ "Apple Challenges Big Award Over Patents". New York Times. October 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-10-05. Professor Gelernter, a renowned technology pioneer, sustained serious injuries to his right hand and eye from an explosive package sent to him in 1993 by Theodore Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber. 
  7. ^ a b "Mirror Worlds Technologies, LLC v. Apple Inc. et al". Justia Dockets & Filings. 
  8. ^ "Mirror Worlds, LLC v. Apple Inc.". SCOTUSblog. 
  9. ^ "NEA News Room: Five New Members of National Council on the Arts Welcomed by National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia". Nea.gov. 2003-04-10. Retrieved 2013-02-10. 
  10. ^ http://conversationswithbillkristol.org/video/david-gelernter/
  11. ^ http://chronicle.com/article/Dreaming-of-a-World-Without/132813/
  12. ^ a b John Markoff, technology writer and New York Times reporter in an interview with David Gelernter
  13. ^ Schwartz, John. New Economy; Selling a Vision of the Future beyond Folders. NY Times, 7/2/01
  14. ^ Reviews of Judaism at http://www.amazon.com/Judaism-Being-David-Hillel-Gelernter/dp/0300151926
  15. ^ a b Jacoby, Russell. Dreaming of a World With No Intellectuals. Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/16/12
  16. ^ Daisley, Stephen (June 2012). "Reign of Ignorance". Commentary: 64–65.