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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Software Pioneer Peter Naur Wins Turing Award

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has named Peter Naur the winner of the 2005 A.M. Turing Award. The award is for Naur's pioneering work on defining the Algol 60 programming language. Algol 60 is the model for many later programming languages, including those that are indispensable software engineering tools today. The Turing Award, considered the "Nobel Prize of Computing" was first awarded in 1966, and is named for British mathematician Alan M. Turing. It carries a $100,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corporation.

Dr. Naur was editor in 1960 of the hugely influential "Report on the Algorithmic Language Algol 60." He is recognized for the report's elegance, uniformity and coherence, and credited as an important contributor to the language's power and simplicity. The report made pioneering use of what later became known as Backus-Naur Form (BNF) to define the syntax of programs. BNF is now the standard way to define a computer language. Naur is also cited for his contribution to compiler design and to the art and practice of computer programming.

"Dr. Naur's ALGOL 60 embodied the notion of elegant simplicity for algorithmic expression," said Justin Rattner, Intel senior fellow and Chief Technology Officer. "Over the years, programming languages have become bloated with features and functions that have made them more difficult to learn and less effective. This award should encourage future language designers who are addressing today's biggest programming challenges, such as general-purpose, multi-threaded computation, to achieve that same level of elegance and simplicity that was the hallmark of ALGOL 60."

About the A.M. Turing Award

The A.M. Turing Award was named for Alan M. Turing, the British mathematician who articulated the mathematical foundation and limits of computing, and who was a key contributor to the Allied cryptanalysis of the German Enigma cipher during World War II. Since its inception, the Turing Award has honored the computer scientists and engineers who created the systems and underlying theoretical foundations that have propelled the information technology industry. For additional information, please see the A. M. Turing Awards site.

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