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Current Projects




Hilliard is one of the rare English matronymic names, derived from the Norman female given name Hildiarde or Hildegard, comprised of Germanic elements hild = battle, strife + gard = fortress, strength. Variations include Hilleard, Hillyard, and Hildyard.

what’s new/upcoming

ICSA 2024
4–8 June, Hyderabad India
ESG logo MIT ESG 50th

current projects

In my life as an architect, I find that the single thing which inhibits young professionals, new students most severely, is their acceptance of standards that are too low.

— Christopher Alexander

nForge is a systems engineering workbench, supporting creation, analysis and reasoning about complex systems via multiple viewpoints. Current focus is on real-time performance concerns.
A current interest is Concerns, as in “separation of concerns”, as first-class entities in architecting. Some relevant items:
Enterprise IT
I'm chairing the Enterprise IT Committee of the Professional & Educational Activities Board of the IEEE Computer Society
ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7 WG 42 Architecture Description Conformity Assessment
New conformity assessment scheme for architecture frameworks and architecture description languages via ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010
ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010 (IEEE Std 1471)
Since 1995, I’ve been involved with IEEE’s architecture description standard (IEEE Std 1471), now the international standard, ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010. You might even want to join the Users Group.
Why 42?
All About ISO/IEC/IEEE 42010

recent activities

Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules–still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.

— Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

(Not much to report — other than zoom meetings)

what’s cool

Idle tools are the Devil’s hands.

— Jay Edelman (1973?)

My MIT undergraduate time (1972–1976) was shaped by three interests on campus: the MIT Experimental Study Group (ESG), MIT linguistics, and MIT folk-dancing. All three activities continue at MIT. More about linguistics and Balkan folk-dancing in the future; MIT ESG continues as an undergraduate program at MIT, and I’m on ESG’s Alumni Steering Committee.

Douglas T. Ross was one of the great thinkers in software engineering. Doug passed away in January 2007. Aside from a few archival publications, little of his most interesting work is widely available. So it good to have the following link: Applied Understanding Technology. I hope to write more about Doug’s contributions in the future.

Rich Hilliard and Kris Younger, circa 1986

Links to some valued friends and colleagues:

In an earlier work life, which shall not be named, I and my colleagues found ourselves confronting many administrative obstacles to progress. We needed to find a way to go on. So we coined a phase: if you can’t work, just parody. We were not alone:

RTmark | Firesign Theatre
NRH on the pitch. Go MDI!


You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer.

— Frank Zappa

New England Revolution

imaginary property

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

— Niccolo Machiavelli

The GNU Project


RFH III at the piano

I wish those musicians would not allow themselves any repetitions, and would go faster in developing their ideas or their findings, because I don’t appreciate at all this permanent repetitive language. It is like someone who is stuttering all the time, and can’t get words out of his mouth. I think musicians should have very concise figures and not rely on this fashionable psychology. I don’t like psychology whatsoever: using music like a drug is stupid. One shouldn’t do that: music is the product of the highest human intelligence, and of the best senses, the listening senses and of imagination and intuition. And as soon as it becomes just a means for ambiance, as we say, environment, or for being used for certain purposes, then music becomes a whore, and one should not allow that really; one should not serve any existing demands or in particular not commercial values. That would be terrible: that is selling out the music.

— Karlheinz Stockhausen

I listen to, collect, and sometimes even make music.

Here's The Nathaniel Hilliard Sextet playing some cool jazz, 6 June 2013 at College of the Atlantic Live at the Gates Auditorium

mathematical methods

It is a good day when I get to use some math. Here’s a math logic joke:

A logician saves the life of a tiny space alien. The alien is very grateful and, since she’s omniscient, offers the following reward: she offers to answer any question the logician might pose. Without too much thought (after all, he’s a logician), he asks, “What is the best question to ask? and What is the correct answer to that question?

The tiny alien pauses. Finally, she replies, “The best question is the one you just asked; and the correct answer is the one I gave.”

Updated: Rich Hilliard