Barbara Liskov, a professor at MIT, has received the 2008 A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) for her work in the design of computer programming languages. Liskov is only the second woman to receive the Turing Award and she was the first woman to earn a computer science PhD. The A.M. Turing Award was first presented in 1966 and was named for British mathematician Alan M. Turing, is widely considered the “Nobel Prize in Computing.” It carries a $250,000 prize, with financial support from Intel Corporation and Google Inc.
A press release from MIT quoted Provost L. Rafael Reif saying, Barbara Liskov pioneered some of the most important advances in fundamental computer science. Her exceptional achievements have leapt from the halls of academia to transform daily life around the world. Every time you exchange e-mail with a friend, check your bank statement online or run a Google search, you are riding the momentum of her research.”
The full citation for the A.M. Turing Award states:
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.
In addition to her research, Liskov is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and ACM, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and IEEE. She won the 1996 Achievement Award from the Society of Women Engineers and has served on a wide variety of interest groups and advisory committees.