Kakamega Secondary School students, 1961
Henry J. Hamburger '61 earned a BS in Mathematics from MIT in 1961 and an MS in Mathematics from the University of Minnesota in 1963. Between 1963 and 1965, he worked as a secondary-school teacher in Kenya.
In 1971, Hamburger earned a PhD in Computer and Communication Sciences from the University of Michigan. He was an assistant professor and a tenured associate professor in the cognitive sciences at the University of California, Irvine and professor emeritus and a past chair of the George Mason University Computer Science Department.
Hamburger served three years at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and as webmaster and treasurer of Teachers for East Africa Alumni (TEAA), a charitable NGO assisting secondary education in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Early in his career, he and two colleagues established language learnability theory as a key subfield of modern linguistics. He pioneered in the conception of an AI-based approach to situated language learning by means of human-computer conversation in two media - the human language to be learned and interactive animations depicting it - interrelated via a knowledge base to support a meaningful ongoing situation. With NSF support Hamburger implemented these ideas and successfully tested the system with foreign students learning English.