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Massachusetts Institute of Technology  (2008)


For contributions to practical and theoretical foundations of programming language and system design, especially related to data abstraction, fault tolerance, and distributed computing.

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Barbara Liskov has led important developments in computing by creating and implementing programming languages, operating systems, and innovative systems designs that have advanced the state of the art of data abstraction, modularity, fault tolerance, persistence, and distributed computing systems.

The Venus operating system was an early example of principled operating system design. The CLU programming language was one of the earliest and most complete programming languages based on modules formed from abstract data types and incorporating unique intertwining of both early and late binding mechanisms. ARGUS extended many of the CLU ideas to distributed programming, and incorporated the first versions of nested transactions to maintain predictable consistencies. Other advances include solutions elegantly combining theory and pragmatics in the areas of decentralized information flow, replicated storage and caching of persistent objects, and modular upgrading of distributed systems. Her contributions have been incorporated into the practice of programming, thereby influencing many of the most important systems used today: for programming, specification, systems design, and distributed architectures.



IBM Fellow Emerita  (2006)


For pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution.

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Fran Allen's work has had an enormous impact on compiler research and practice. Both alone and in joint work with John Cocke, she introduced many of the abstractions, algorithms, and implementations that laid the groundwork for automatic program optimization technology. Allen's 1966 paper, "Program Optimization," laid the conceptual basis for systematic analysis and transformation of computer programs. This paper introduced the use of graph-theoretic structures to encode program content in order to automatically and efficiently derive relationships and identify opportunities for optimization. Her 1970 papers, "Control Flow Analysis" and "A Basis for Program Optimization" established "intervals" as the context for efficient and effective data flow analysis and optimization. Her 1971 paper with Cocke, "A Catalog of Optimizing Transformations," provided the first description and systematization of optimizing transformations. Her 1973 and 1974 papers on interprocedural data flow analysis extended the analysis to whole programs. Her 1976 paper with Cocke describes one of the two main analysis strategies used in optimizing compilers today.

Allen developed and implemented her methods as part of compilers for the IBM STRETCH-HARVEST and the experimental Advanced Computing System. This work established the feasibility and structure of modern machine- and language-independent optimizers. She went on to establish and lead the PTRAN project on the automatic parallel execution of FORTRAN programs. Her PTRAN team developed new parallelism detection schemes and created the concept of the program dependence graph, the primary structuring method used by most parallelizing compliers.

In addition to her many contributions to research and practice, throughout her career Fran Allen has been an inspirational mentor to younger researchers and a leader within the computing community.

Interview by Guy L. Steele:
Frances E. Allen, recipient of the 2006 ACM A.M. Turing Award, reflects on her career

Communications of the ACM
Vol. 54 No. 1, Pages 39-45