When Alfred Aho and Jeffrey Ullman met while waiting in the registration line on their first day of graduate school at Princeton University in 1963, computer science was still a strange new world.
Using a computer required a set of esoteric skills typically reserved for trained engineers and mathematicians. But today, thanks in part to the work of Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman, practically anyone can use a computer and program it to perform new tasks.
On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest society of computing professionals, said Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman would receive this year’s Turing Award for their work on the fundamental concepts that underpin computer programming languages. Given since 1966 and often called the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, which the two academics and longtime friends will split.
Dr. Aho and Dr. Ullman helped refine one of the key components of a computer: the “compiler” that takes in software programs written by humans and turns them into something computers can understand.
rely on the strange behavior exhibited by things like electrons or exotic metals cooled to several hundred degrees below zero.
Quantum computers rely on a completely different kind of physical behavior from traditional computers. But as they create programming languages for these machines, Dr. Svore and her colleagues are still drawing on the work of the latest Turing winners.
“We are building on the same techniques,” she said.