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In memoriam - Roberto Innocente

28 February 2020

Roberto Innocente, computer technician of ITCS (Information Technology and Computing Services) passed away on January 30th 2020 in Trieste.

Since his early years in SISSA, Roberto was the point of reference for informatics and scientific calculus. A pioneer of implementing advanced network protocols for reliability, safety and speed, he was able to ensure stable connectivity for SISSA in the early days of the internet, much to the envy of other research institutions and university.

Thanks to his deep knowledge of hardware and knowing very well the requirements of high performance scientific computing, in the early ’90 he recommended the purchase of IBM SP1, the first parallel processing computer.
In 1992 he devised and developed the first electronic archive at SISSA, which included Astrophysics, Condensed Matter and Functional Analysis. In 1994 this archives merged with those of Los Alamos, but even before that, SISSA archives were able to connect with them. This proved to be providential when due to an accident Los Alamos Archives were destroyed and could be recovered only through SISSA’s copy.

His knowledge and impact went beyond informatics. In the mid-2000s, Roberto, in collaboration with the Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale e Clinica, developed a probabilistic algorithm based on machine learning tecniques for diagnostics in stroke patients. Even with a limited statistical sample, this analysis not only created the groundwork for innovative research, but became an example of fruitful collaboration between medicine and computer science.

In the last few years Roberto was involved in a series of innovative projects in many different fields, including scientific calculation with FPGA cards, teaching tools like LightBoards and internal cloud infrastructures.

The untimely and sudden passing of Roberto leaves a void among his collegues and everyone who knew him. At the same time, he leaves a legacy of knowledge, critical thinking and analytical skills: an heritage for everyone in the ITCS group at SISSA.