Mike Lesk

Updated: 09/15/2017 by Computer Hope
Mike Lesk

Name: Michael E. (Mike) Lesk

Born: Unknown

Computer-related contributions

  • Computer scientist who worked for the SMART Information Retrieval System project and did many of the retrieval experiments and wrote much of its retrieval code.
  • Participated with the group at Bell Labs that built Unix.
  • Created Unix tools for word processing.
  • Developed LEX for compiling in UNIX.
  • Introduced the Lesk algorithm, a classical algorithm for word sense disambiguation (1986).
  • Authored the Portable I/O Library (the predecessor to stdio.h in C).
  • Assisted in the development of the C language preprocessor.

Significant publications

  • Understanding Digital Libraries (2004).
  • Practical Digital Libraries: Books, Bytes, and Bucks (1997).

Honors and awards

  • Elected to the National Academy of Engineering (2005).
  • Recipient of the Flame award for lifetime achievement from Usenix (1994).
  • Fellow of the ACM.


"Two primary points of abuse are the use of the meta fields in websites and extraneous links. Meta fields were originally designed to provide a way for site operators to add some keywords to their sites that did not need to be displayed to users, but might be useful to search engines. A site might use meta fields to give some synonyms for their content or to elaborate ideas that might be taken for granted by readers. For example, a website mentioning Brooklyn many times, but not New York City, might decide to add New York as a meta tag. However, some site operators put words in meta fields that have nothing to do with their content (the most common such word being sex since a great many Internet searches are from people looking for pornography)."