Micaela Serra

A short autobiography



I believe I know the only cure, which is to make one's centre of life inside of one's self, not selfishly or excludingly, but with a kind of unassailable serenity-to decorate one's inner house so richly that one is content there, glad to welcome any one who wants to come and stay, but happy all the same in the hours when one is inevitably alone.

(Edith Wharton )

I was born in Milano, Italy, not too long ago.... Milano is a big industrial and financial city in the north. Tourists only come to admire its fantastic Gothic Cathedral, the Duomo, or to attempt to view the "Last Supper" fresco.

I attended Physics at the University of Milano for 2 years, then came to Toronto, Canada. It was an adventure to be an immigrant and Toronto was cold! I immediately found a job in a bank in the Italian area and proceeded in a banking career, while taking part-time courses at the University of Toronto in Math and Statistics. My daughter was born there, on a very cold January evening. Since the adventurous spirit had not abated yet, 6 years later I moved to Winnipeg, to get a taste of the real cold weather. I was there 4 years, and finished my B.Sc. at the University of Manitoba in Computer Science, while working part-time at the Law Library of the University (I learned a lot by osmosis!).

I had disliked Computer Science intensely when I first took a course at the University of Toronto (with PL1 as the language, keypunchers as the users' interface). Manitoba was a friendlier place and by that time I had become immune to the sometimes peculiar image of the field. I was successful in the transfer from Math to Computer Science this time around and gathered a lot of good grades, with a lot of work!

I was offered a Postgraduate Scholarship from NSERC, given to only 50 people per year. I had to move to another University and that change suited me well as I was already frozen solid. I had travelled to the West Coast and to California, so notwithstanding other offers, I came west to Victoria. Why not U.B.C.? I just did not like Vancouver at that time, and for once I thought I'd try a smaller city. Sometimes, I still miss Winnipeg and the Prairies, as the friendliest people on earth live there!

I finished my M.Sc. with a thesis entitled "Directed Search Minimization of Multiple-Output Networks". It developed a minimization algorithm for sum-of-products for multiple-output Boolean functions, using some clever tree searches. I managed to publish a paper from it, but I did not get much glory, since, just about at the same time, "Espresso", the minimization package from IBM, was released. It is hard to compete! The best from it is that the algorithm has now been further refined, improved and changed a lot in Michael Whitney's Ph.D. thesis from 1993 (from UVic).

I finished my Ph.D. with a thesis entitled "New Methods for the Compaction Testing of Multiple-Output Digital Circuits". It switched my research focus from circuit design to circuit testing and design for testability. My latest addition to research areas is in Hardware/Software Codesign, plus HCI as a side interest. For all of these topics, the research links from my home page give a short summary of the areas.

I am now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Victoria, which means that I have officially retired after 30 years. I discovered that I enjoy teaching more than I expected, and dislike academic politics more than I expected. I am quite involved in women equity issues, and I no longer think that it is alright to accept the nerdy and macho image of Computer Science! My daughter is now a graduate of McGill (Sociology) and has finished a PhD in Political Science in the US. Perhaps she will research the sociological and political aspects of our computer science culture.


Last Supper