Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day: Barbara Liskov and Data Abstraction

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, a day to blog about female computer scientists we admire. Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) is credited with authoring the first computer algorithm (which concerned a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers) in 1843 for use on Charles Babbage's early mechanical general-purpose computer, the analytical engine.

This year I'm going to write a posting on MIT professor Barbara Liskov who won the 2008 ACM Turning Award for 'foundational innovations' in programming language design. Barbara Liskov has worked at MIT AI lab since 1972, and one of her most significant contributions to the field of computer science is her work on championing the idea of Data Abstraction (which seperates the implementation from the use of complex data types). She also designed CLU, an object-oriented programming language incorporating clusters to provide coherent, systematic handling of abstract data types. Following this she developed Argus, a distributed programming language whose novel features led to further developments in distributed system design that could scale to systems connected by a network.

Without her work we would not have programming languages like C++ and Java, without her work we wouldn't have distribtued databases and innovations in real-time systems, without her work we wouldn't have Cloud Computing, thank you Barbara Liskov.

This is a video of Barbara Liskov discussing Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance from December 3, 2001, Running Time: 00:55:32

1 comment:

Damian Gordon said...

UPDATE: Great, my college databases lecturer, Professor Jane Grimson, got celebrated, wonderful, she is an outstanding computer scientist (and a really great databases lecturer):