Gelernter attended the Brooklyn College with a bachelor 's degree in 1951 and in 1956 received his doctorate at the University of Rochester in Nuclear Physics ( The two - nucleon interaction at high energies and the Lévy- potential). After that, he was from 1956 physicist at IBM Research in New York, where he was in the group for Automata Theory 1958-1960. 1960/61, he was a visiting scientist at CERN. 1964 to 1966 he was with IBM Research Manager of the Research Group Physics and computer applications. From 1966 he was professor of computer science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook ( SUNY ), where he remained for the rest of his career. 1972/73 he was at the Weizmann Institute.
It deals with computer applications in nuclear physics (Online data recording), chemistry and biomedical sciences, mathematical biophysics and AI. At SUNY, he developed an expert system for synthesis in organic chemistry ( Synchem ).
In the 1950s he worked on at IBM with programs for automatic proofs in geometry. For this he developed with Carl Gerberich at IBM on the advice of John McCarthy, a FORTRAN version to the list processing ( FLPL ). She played a role in the history of Lisp. With this work, he was a pioneer of artificial intelligence.
He was married since 1952 and has three children. His son David Gelernter is also a well-known computer scientist.