of Philip Greenspun

Philip Greenspun has been in and around the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1979. He has taught most of the traditional electrical engineering and computer science classes and has co-developed two new classes: "Software Engineering for Web Applications" (6.171) and a three-day RDBMS and SQL course.

Greenspun is the author of several computer science textbooks, including Internet Application Workbook and a concise SQL tutorial.

Greenspun holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate. He has flown light single-engine aircraft to every corner of the North American continent. He has flown regional jets for a Delta Airlines subsidiary. Greenspun teaches helicopter and airplane instrument flying at Hanscom Field near Boston. He is the author of Helicopters Explained for Curious Children, a book distributed to elementary school students when Greenspun lands a helicopter in their socccer field.

In the mid-1990s, Greenspun founded the Scalable Systems for Online Communities research group at MIT and spun it out into ArsDigita, which he grew into a profitable $20 million (revenue) open-source enterprise software company. The software is best known for its support of public online communities, such as and, which grew to serve 500,000 users educating each other to become better photographers. Greenspun has been a board member of or advisor to some technology startups in the Boston area. All of them have grown more slowly than planned.

Due to his experience with 1990s Internet applications and experience teaching computer science, Greenspun has been in high demand as an expert witness in software patent litigation.

Greenspun moved from Harvard Square to the suburbs on the same day that everyone interesting moved back to the city. He and Olga occasionally escape the kids and Mindy the Crippler and fight their way through the ever-worsening Boston traffic to learn something new.

Summary: "I'm good at things that most people are bad at and bad at things that most people are good at."

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