On the first day of graduate school at Princeton University in 1963, when Alfred Ego and Jeffrey Ullman met while waiting at the registration line, computer science was still a strange new world.
Using computers requires a set of esoteric skills typically reserved for trained engineers and mathematicians. But today, Drs. Ego and Dr. Thanks to Uleman’s work, practically anyone can use a computer and program it to perform new tasks.
On Wednesday, the Association of Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Drs. Ego and Dr. Ullman will receive this year’s Turing Award for his work on basic concepts that understand computer programming languages. Since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize for Computing, the Turing Prize comes with a $ 1 million prize, which will be divided by two academics and longtime friends.
Dr. Ego and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the computer’s key components: the “compiler” Takes software written by humans and converts them into something computers can understand.
Over the past five decades, computer scientists have created increasingly intuitive programming languages, making it easier for people to create software for desktops, laptops, smartphones, cars, and even supercomputers. Compilers ensure that these languages are efficiently translated into those and zeros that computers understand.
Without his work, “we wouldn’t be able to write an app for our phones,” said Christa Swore, a Microsoft researcher who studied with Mr. Ego at the University of Columbia, where he was chairman of the computer science department. “We won’t have cars running these days.”
Researchers also wrote several textbooks and taught generations of students, as they defined how the development of computer software was different from electrical engineering or mathematics.
“His fingerprints are all over the region,” said Graydon Hoare, creator of a programming language called Rudon. He said that Dr. Two of Ulman’s books were sitting on the shelf next to him.
After leaving Princeton, Canadian Dr. by birth. Aho, who is 79 years old, and Drs. Uleman, a native New Yorker who is 78 years old, joined Bell Labs’ New Jersey headquarters, which at the time was one of the world’s leading research laboratories.
Now Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, Drs. Ullman was instrumental in developing the languages and concepts that run the database, the software for storing and receiving information, which is essential for applications used by office employees from the Google search engine. Globe.
Dr. Ego and Dr. The ideas accumulated by Ullmann are a part of future computers. At Microsoft, Dr. Svore quantum computer, working on experimental machines Trust strange behavior Cooling down to several hundred degrees below zero exhibited by things like electrons or foreign metals.
Quantum computers rely on completely different types of physical behavior from traditional computers. But as they form the programming language for these machines, Drs. Svor and his colleagues are still drawing on the work of the latest Turing winners.
“We’re building on the same technology,” she said.