Frances E. Allen, a former CRA Board member, has received the 2006 A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the first time a woman has been given this honor. Allen, an IBM Fellow at the TJ Watson Research Center, was chosen for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high performance computing. Allen was also the first woman to be named an IBM Fellow in 1989. The 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 $100,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corporation.
From the ACM press release:
Allen made fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of program optimization, which translates the users’ problem-solving language statements into more efficient sequences of computer instructions. Her contributions also greatly extended earlier work in automatic program parallelization, which enables programs to use multiple processors simultaneously in order to obtain faster results. These techniques have made it possible to achieve high performance from computers while programming them in languages suitable to applications. They have contributed to advances in the use of high performance computers for solving problems such as weather forecasting, DNA matching, and national security functions.
“Fran Allen’s work has led to remarkable advances in compiler design and machine architecture that are at the foundation of modern high-performance computing,” said Ruzena Bajcsy, Chair of ACM’s Turing Award Committee, and professor of Electrical and Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. “Her contributions have spanned most of the history of computer science, and have made possible computing techniques that we rely on today in business and technology. It is interesting to note Allen’s role in highly secret intelligence work on security codes for the organization now known as the National Security Agency, since it was Alan Turing, the namesake of this prestigious award, who devised techniques to help break the German codes during World War II,” said Bajcsy, who is Emeritus Director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) at Berkeley.