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Fran Allen Wins Turing Award

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the one-small-step-for-a-woman dept.

Announcements 79

shoemortgage writes "The Association for Computing Machinery has named Frances E. Allen the recipient of the 2006 A.M. Turing Award for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high performance computing. Allen,74, is the first woman to receive the Turing Award in the 41 years of its history. She retired from IBM in 2002."

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79 comments

Rare Women (-1, Offtopic)

P(0)(!P(k)+P(k+1)) (1012109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108090)

From TFA:

This award marks the first time that a woman has received this honor.

Great: she’s the next Countess of Lovelace [wikipedia.org] ; but child-birth isn’t democratic, and there’s nothing fundamental about engineering that makes it likewise democratic.

In other words: rare women will continue to be rare women; don’t agitate us with “it’s about time” propaganda.

Re:Rare Women (4, Insightful)

Xeger (20906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109666)

Hmm. Can you think of anything about engineering that makes it undemocratic?

I follow your premise that childbirth isn't democratic -- it's a biological reality that only women bear children, and all women are affected by the biological and chemical side-effects of their ability to bear children.

However -- try as I might, I can't think of a single sex-specific talent or skill in the field of engineering. Are you claiming that males are biologically better at math, logic, spatial relationships, that sort of thing? I admit it's a tempting explanation for the lack of women in engineering fields. But I humbly invite you to consider that the ratio of of woman/man engineers is 5% greater today than it was 20 years ago; 10% greater than 40 years ago; and 100 years ago, women basically didn't engage in technical pursuits (except for rare, anomalous cases) and most technical schools didn't admit women.
(source [societyofw...ineers.org] for recent data)

So: if "engineering ability" is sex-linked, what is the explanation for the recent, dramatic rise in technical women? Is there some kind of genetic mutation occurring? One possible explanation is that women have some latent "engineering ability," though not enough to compete with men; in this case, we should expect the ratio of women/man engineers to converge on an equilibrium point somewhere below 50%.

Is there such an equilibrium point? Are women really less technically-oriented than men? As a rational person, I must admit it's a possibility. However, given that the proportion of women engineers has been trending steadily upward for the past 100 years, I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for it to stabilize anytime soon. Personally, I think that in the 100-year timeframe, as old cultures and mores adapt to changing circumstances, we will see it approach 50%.

Re:Rare Women (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109988)

Just to play devils advocate here a little. I have had some outstanding women supervisors and coworkers in the IT field, however, I have simply never had the same ammount of 'issues' with male supervisors and coworkers. The number of women I have worked with that are supremely offended by any suggestion that they may not be absolutely correct in all things IT blows my mind. I have never seen (not that it doesn't happen) a male coworker turn red screaming when it was insinuated that they were not correct. I don't think its really genetic so much as a social issue that has put them in this state, but so many of them choose to become offended instead of getting educated. Now, there have been dozens of studies that show women tend to use emotion much more when making decisions so I think that has an effect, but it certainly doesn't have any bearing on their technical capabilities in the long run. I think there is a barrier that women in general are faced with in the technical fields, which I'm sure contributes to insecurity, but its emotional overreactions to this that brand ALL women as unable to be technical. The other frequent class is the 'I'm a helpless girl' crap that leaves everyone pulling their weight while they pull a paycheck. Now, I have known males to try this, but I have never seen it actually work.

Incidentally, of those outstanding women I have worked with, all of them were incredibly secure and confident in their job. They weren't afraid of having someone point out a mistake, and they were able to point out others mistakes without it becoming an issue. They never pull the 'I'm a helpless girl' crap either. In all honestly I would prefer one of these women as a supervisor over a male supervisor in most cases due to their bluntness (not bitchyness) and typically less frequent political games (which male coworkers seem to play FAR more frequently).

Re:Rare Women (1)

Xeger (20906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110958)

Based on my interactions with women engineers, I think "bitchiness" of women in technical fields is largely a social phenomenon. I've known three engineer-girls who seemed unnecessarily defensive of their ideas; ultimately, two of those three became less defensive over time as I worked closely with them and proved that I was capable of treating them with respect. After all, these are women whose opinions have been dismissed or overlooked throughout their careers simply because they're not "one of the guys."

OTOH, you've got a good point -- it seems women are naturally more inclined than men to incorporate their emotions into the decision-making process, and it seems from the evidence at hand that this is a biological phenomenon. So, it may be that women engineers have a slight handicap to the decision-making process, which they must train themselves to overcome.

Of course, as a male engineer who too frequently makes technical decisions based on "a gut feeling" and only seeks rational justification after the fact, I am hardly one to cast blame!

Re:Rare Women (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 7 years ago | (#18114178)

The problems I have run into were with totally unqualified women in IT who believed they were the best of the best and could not be questions. Some of these interactions I managed to mitigate by avoiding ever working on the same job with them, and they became pleasant in the office so long as there was no kind of technical work between us. Others just insisted they were correct in all things IT. One went so far to chastise me how dumb I was for not understanding that I had to turn on the FTP service on a Win2k3 server to use ftp to download things, when I demonstrated that you don't need that service running by completing a successful FTP manually and that it was a Symantic configuration issue causing problems she just laughed at me and said "See, you said you didn't have the FTP service running" I about lost my mind.

The women that brought any meaningful skills to the table have never given me trouble and we have learned plenty from each other as technicians should. So while I think part of it may be a reflection of them being dismissed as not "one of the guys" I think a large part of it is them being dismissed for not having a clue and they equate that with the victim mentality that is so common these days of "its because I'm a woman" and not "its because I have no skills". I think it is the same double edged sword that is equal opportunity. The most outspoken people I have met that are against equal opportunity were minorities because they get treated like they are only there because they have to be, or they are getting handouts that aren't based on their qualifications. There absolutely were(are) blockages that women face in getting into certain positions, but the special treatment end of it causes just as many problems. I don't treat women I work with any differently than the guys I work with, you either are a good technician or not, and any of that workplace flirting/romance crap is just begging for disaster anyways. Sexual harrassment is a real issue, but when its just a "oh my god they offended me" it usually boils back down the insecurity thing, because the women that I have worked with that really knew there job and were confident in their abilities and position...holy crap...you think guys can be dirty... I have heard these girls say things that make your testicles retreat like you haven't hit puberty and have you blushing like a school girl.

Re:Rare Women (2, Insightful)

NittanyTuring (936113) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110426)

But I humbly invite you to consider that the ratio of of woman/man engineers is 5% greater today than it was 20 years ago; 10% greater than 40 years ago; and 100 years ago, women basically didn't engage in technical pursuits (except for rare, anomalous cases) and most technical schools didn't admit women.
The term "computer" was first used as job title for people who would do manual calculations; this position was usually held by women. 60 years ago, when electronic computers were invented, programming was a 100% female-dominated field. All the programmers of the ENIAC were women. It was, in fact, seen as unmanly. As soon as programming began to be perceived as challenging and worthwhile, the whole thing turned inside out.

Re:Rare Women (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18110808)

5% in 20 years is not what I'd call dramatic, especially considering that 20 years should see roughly 1/3 of the work force retiring.

Whether men or women are genetically predisposed towards the skills necessary for engineering is an interesting question and, unfortunately, one that will probably never get answered since we'll be unable to separate cultural values from a population. My guess is that men and women do have a tendency to think differently than each other and, since most of the previous work was done by men, it makes it harder for women to get into the field.

However, one thing is certain, that women have done some truly extraordinary things in engineering, science, etc.

Re:Rare Women (1)

Xeger (20906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111112)

Alas, we cannot hold up those female "computing pioneers" as examples of women engineers because number crunching is only a small part of the discipline of engineering. It is a tool used by engineers, but it is not "engineering."

If 19th-century computers had been doing their own problem-solving, applying critical thinking, or designing systems of some sort (buildings, bridges, machinery), then I could agree that they were engineers. Unfortunately they were doing none of those things; they were simply processing information at the behest of an engineer boss who was almost invariably a male.

Early computers were no more engineers than the data entry clerk at the police station is a detective.

So, what to make of 19th-century female computers? They're a fabulous example that women are, and always have been, capable of using the "mental tools" that are common to every engineer's toolbox. Furthermore, I have no doubts that over time, many computers acquired a working knowledge of the field for which they were crunching numbers. After a few years working in the field, many of them would have been able to assume an engineering rule with a bit more training.

No doubt, if you pore over the historical records, you will find cases of female computers who *did* make the leap into engineering -- but not very frequently. These would be the "rare, anomalous cases" I mentioned in a prior post.

Re:Rare Women (1)

Westacular (118145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110908)

There are obviously a wide variety of both cultural and biological factors that influence the likelihood of anyone going into engineering, and the distribution of these differs between men and women. The dramatic rise of technical women in the last century reflects the dramatic changes in cultural views on the role of women. It's impossible to define a specific equilibrium point for the male:female employment ratio because of the constant changes in both cultural views and in the structure of the workplace.

One needs to distinguish between women's interest in, accessibility to, and aptitude for engineering as a profession. I'd like to think we've mostly eliminated any gender bias in accessibility, and I hope we can eliminate any external biases influencing the interest component. But, unpopular as it may sound, there are probably small but statistically significant differences in the average innate interest and aptitude for engineering when taken across the whole female population. This doesn't mean that women can't be outstanding engineers, or that the average female engineer is somehow less skilled than the average male engineer; it just means that if the proportion of the engineering population stabilizes at less than 50%, we shouldn't necessarily be surprised or concerned, and we should not feel obligated to force an even ratio. This is what the previous poster was referring to when he said that engineering is "undemocratic".

I should point out that -- in contrast with the increases of the past century -- over the last six years, female enrollment in undergraduate engineering in North America has been steadily decreasing [www.ccpe.ca] , in all disciplines, both in absolute numbers and as a proportion total students. There is much confusion and speculation on the reasons for this.

I can't think of a single sex-specific talent or skill in the field of engineering. Are you claiming that males are biologically better at math, logic, spatial relationships, that sort of thing?

There are many recent cognitive and neurological studies that show statistically significant, complex patterns of sex differences in these skills. That doesn't mean one sex is emphatically better than the other -- but they definitely process such information in different ways. These differences no doubt have an influence on the effectiveness of different educational techniques and the interest and motivation one has to enter a field that relies heavily on particular cognitive skills. Females, perhaps, might simply tend to find engineering more boring than males.

Re:Rare Women (1)

Xeger (20906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111172)

That's quite a well-reasoned argument in favor of a potential gender disparity in the field of engineering. Indeed, I wouldn't expect the "natural" female/male ratio of engineers to be 50% -- but I suspect it is somewhat higher than 10%.

Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful post.

Re:Rare Women (1)

skinfaxi (212627) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112404)

There are many recent cognitive and neurological studies that show statistically significant, complex patterns of sex differences in these skills.

Cite, please.

Re:Rare Women (1)

Westacular (118145) | more than 7 years ago | (#18128096)

Google scholar gives some good starting points [google.com] . A couple quick results:

DC Geary, SJ Saults, F Liu, MK Hoard, Sex differences in spatial cognition, computational fluency, and arithmetical reasoning [missouri.edu] . Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 2000.

This paper:

ES Spelke, Sex differences in intrinsic aptitude for mathematics and science: A critical review [harvard.edu] . American Psychologist, 2005.

criticizes studies that conclude any general disparity in skills, and argues that gender disparity seen in such fields does not have a biological basis (or that any biological influence is trivially small), but even it acknowledges that there are several differences in how and how efficiently males/females process certain tasks on a very fine scale. The argument is that these differences generally cancel each other out when you look at aptitude for mathematics as a whole.

Re:Rare Women (1)

PastaLover (704500) | more than 7 years ago | (#18123764)

Now as a thought experiment take this post and replace all instances of "women" by "negros".

Re:Rare Women (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111454)

Do your figures take into account the increased number of women in the workforce? If the proportion of women in other fields has increased as much or more, simply on the basis of the fact that more women work than did 40 years ago, those numbers are not particularly useful.

Re:Rare Women (1)

Xeger (20906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113498)

Good point. I lack the time to track down the numbers on women in the workforce, but the "woman engineer" numbers should be controlled for variances in "women worker."

Re:Rare Women (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18113690)

There are at least a couple of things going on that would support the "undemocratic" idea, and before anyone asks, no I don't have cites handy so proceed to ignore this if it makes you uncomfortable.

Many years ago (25?) there were studies that showed men were better able than women to visually (mentally) rotate objects or, equivalently, recognize the equivalence between two objects seen at different rotations. The application to engineering, maths, chemistry and physics are obvious.

Second, and afaik, it is accepted that when measuring some traits the bell curve for men is flatter than the bell curve for women. In other words with men there are more outliers than with women. In intelligence this would mean that there are more extremely intelligent men than extremely intelligent women and more extremely unintelligent men than extremely unintelligent women. The result is that while average intelligence may be the same there will be differences in outcome in fields that require abilities at the edge of the envelope.

It is obvious that there are differences in the abilities of men and women. This is why so many sports are sex segregated. Why should "less physical" traits be any different?

Re:Rare Women (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18114208)

So: if "engineering ability" is sex-linked, what is the explanation for the recent, dramatic rise in technical women? Is there some kind of genetic mutation occurring? One possible explanation is that women have some latent "engineering ability," though not enough to compete with men; in this case, we should expect the ratio of women/man engineers to converge on an equilibrium point somewhere below 50%.

Well, let me give you a hint: Ever heard of reverse discrimination? Or, the PC term designed to hide the truth, the so-called "affirmative action"?
Let me tell you, 200 years ago there were equally as few women studying liberal arts as there were women studying science (zero). How is it that they managed to basically take over liberal arts, and not science? Is there some kind of conspiration of male chauvinistic scientific pigs preventing them from doing so? Should we track it on our crusade towards progress?
Or perhaps you could accept the truth: men and women are NOT identical. There are far more men than women both in science and in prisons. Why can you accept that one of these is a result of natural differences between the genders and cannot accept that the other is too?

Re:Rare Women (2, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115566)

But I humbly invite you to consider that the ratio of of woman/man engineers is 5% greater today than it was 20 years ago; 10% greater than 40 years ago; and 100 years ago, women basically didn't engage in technical pursuits (except for rare, anomalous cases) and most technical schools didn't admit women.
Here is an invalid form of argument: We have a sequence of statements, A, B, C, ... ,Y, Z. We also have B=>A, C=>B, D=>C, ..., Z=>Y. We know A, B, C, ..., Y are true. Therefore Z is true.

In order to aid my consideration, could you point out where your argument differs from this?

I also ask you to consider this: suppose that at birth, more men than women have brains suitable for learning the tasks involved in engineering. In the past, humans, who are prone to rampant generalisations, have observed this, and as a result have concluded as a result that all women are incapable of engineering. As a result, women were systematically excluded from careers in engineering. With this hypothesis we'd expect to see (1) a reduced number of women in engineering in the past, (2) an increase in the number of women as the generalisation is corrected, and (3) a ceiling to the proportion of women who work in engineering that falls below 50%.

I know mathematics better than engineering so let me switch to that subject. I've seen no evidence today that women are selected against in the field of mathematics. I've never met a single mathematician who had the slightest desire to keep women out of mathematics. Just about every mathematician I have ever met has an interest in increasing the number of female mathematicians. So I certainly don't buy any conspiracy theory about women being kept out of mathematics. (But I do think the evidence is absolutely clear that women were selected against in the past.) As a result, I find it hard to imagine any mechanism for keeping women out of mathematics other than the ability or inclination of women themselves. On the other hand, maybe my imagination is lacking and you can help stimulate it.

Re:Rare Women (1)

Xeger (20906) | more than 7 years ago | (#18156442)

I didn't claim to offer any sort of proof that there is no gender disparity in engineering talent. Nor did I offer proof of the counter, for that matter. I simply made the (true) observation that the number of female engineers has been increasing linearly since women have entered the workforce, which suggests perhaps that it's too early to conclude that women are unsuitable for the engineering trade based solely on empirical evidence. We need to wait until the effects of centuries-long cultural bias against technical women have been flushed out of the system, which could take several more generations.

Observation is not proof. Only a mathematician would mistake it for such. ;-)

Re: Resistence to Female Engineers (1)

Phrogman (80473) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117188)

Well, I am not an engineer. I have known a few who were majoring in Engineering and employed as various types of Engineers thereafter. Pretty much all of them noted a low female Engineering population in University. For the most part this was seen by them as being due to the fact that Male Engineers resented the presence of women in their faculty, and tended to actively (and often boorishly) discourage them by making sure they knew they were not wanted. It wouldn't suprise me to see this attitude in those professors teaching Engineering as well.

I know when women entered the Infantry up here in Canada (CFB Petawawa if you are interested), I was working at one of the Regimental Training schools - and the CO called all of the personnel in the unit into a huge meeting. They were of course all male, as I am. He let it be known that the first women were about to be processed through the school shortly - and he wanted everyone to know that they would failed, and ensure we worked to that end because he knew that women were unsuitable to the trade. What he said was approximately "We all know the first female infanteers are coming here to the RCR Battleschool in the next few weeks. We all know they *will* fail the course, right? I just want to make sure we are all on the same page. There will be no women in the Infantry".

I wouldn't be suprised to see that its the Enginners themselves who are discouraging women from getting involved in Engineering. I know a female friend of mine attempted to major in it and I think she gave up due to the endless hassling she received from other (male) students. I wouldn't be at all suprised to hear that that was a common experience for women getting involved in any aspect of Engineering. I sincerely hope I am wrong and the low population is due to some other cause.

So, has the black guy won yet? (-1, Troll)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108092)

Well, we've established who the token woman is for awards in computing. So, who's the token black guy? And has he won this award yet?

If not, I think they should give it to him next year. And, if we're lucky, maybe at some point they can dedge up a Native American with some mediocre qualifications too.

-Eric

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18108114)

Funny, I was wondering the same thing...

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (0, Offtopic)

P(0)(!P(k)+P(k+1)) (1012109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108284)

I see you, too, got bumped down to “-1 Offtopic” within 60 seconds; I think Zonk is to blame (being a repressive Bolshevik, after all).

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18108282)

Wow...flamebait indeed...how disgusting that the first handful of comments are immediately debasing the award winner as a token.

Why do you feel Allen's selection is so obviously inappropriate/undeserved on the merits that prima facie she's a 'token'?

I work in academia - computer science - and I'm not oblivious to the fact that there's a fair bit of 'affirmative action' for women and non-asian minorities to try to 'correct' the 'problem' of under-representation. Without diverting the conversation onto that issue, please share why you feel Allen is egregiously undeserving?

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (1)

P(0)(!P(k)+P(k+1)) (1012109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108344)

Without diverting the conversation onto that issue, please share why you feel Allen is egregiously undeserving?

Why not “deviate” thither? Like I said above, she may be the next Countess of Lovelace [wikipedia.org] ; but to foist a false sense of democracy upon us in the name of her achievement is disingenuous.

Long live meritocracy!

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18108956)

I'm very familiar with Ada! And I agree: long live meritocracy. I'd just think the right place to start off was: 'so, what did she do?', not, 'gee nice token'.

Never heard of her before (2, Interesting)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108610)

And I'm not alone on that, her Wikipedia entry is only two weeks old.

She narrowly beat out a nun with the same name who lived 200 years ago, for first place in a Google search (they get an unimpressive 30k hits combined).

It is quite possible that she is a unacknowledged genius, but it is no surprise that the first reaction isn't "finally!" from most people.

Presumably, we will learn a lot more about her now. Maybe some FORTRAN parallelization experts will outline her contributions for us.

Re:Never heard of her before (4, Informative)

DevStar (943486) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109234)

Actually my first response was "Finally!". I think the surprise exhibited by most people on Slashdot has more to do with the level of actual CS sophistication on Slashdot than it does anything else (which is consistently displayed on almost anything related to CS). Her work on program analysis and program transformation has completely changed the field in the same way that Codd changed databases or Thompson changed systems.
Also, RIP Ken Kennedy. Another true star in the field.

Re:Never heard of her before (3, Insightful)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109300)

There are very few famous computer scientists, and unless you are an academic or researcher in a given area of CS you don't necessarily know who the important people are. There are people like Dijkstra, Knuth, Rivest, Turing, etc. that almost everyone in CS has heard of, but it is a very limited number. The following is a list of all previous winners, all of whom have done a lot for the field, but I bet even on Slashdot the majority only know of the contributions of a few on the list. 2006 Allen, Frances E 2005 Naur, Peter 2004 Cerf, Vinton G. 2004 Kahn, Robert E. 2003 Kay, Alan 2002 Adleman, Leonard M. 2002 Rivest, Ronald L. 2002 Shamir, Adi 2001 Dahl, Ole-Johan 2001 Nygaard, Kristen 2000 Yao, Andrew Chi-Chih 1999 Brooks, Frederick P. 1998 Gray, James 1997 Engelbart, Douglas 1996 Pnueli, Amir 1995 Blum, Manuel 1994 Feigenbaum, Edward 1994 Reddy, Raj 1993 Hartmanis, Juris 1993 Stearns, Richard E. 1992 Lampson, Butler W. 1991 Milner, Robin 1990 Corbato, Fernando J. 1989 Kahan, William (Velvel) 1988 Sutherland, Ivan 1987 Cocke, John 1986 Hopcroft, John 1986 Tarjan, Robert 1985 Karp, Richard M. 1984 Wirth, Niklaus 1983 Ritchie, Dennis M. 1983 Thompson, Ken 1982 Cook, Stephen A. 1981 Codd, Edgar F. 1980 Hoare, C. Antony R. 1979 Iverson, Kenneth E. 1978 Floyd, Robert W 1977 Backus, John 1976 Rabin, Michael O. 1976 Scott, Dana S. 1975 Newell, Allen 1975 Simon, Herbert A. 1974 Knuth, Donald E. 1973 Bachman, Charles W. 1972 Dijkstra, E. W. 1971 McCarthy, John 1970 Wilkinson, J. H. 1969 Minsky, Marvin 1968 Hamming, Richard 1967 Wilkes, Maurice V 1966 Perlis, A. J.

Taking the test (2, Informative)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112172)

I'll take it as a challenge, and see how many names I recognize without looking them up.
2005 Naur, Peter: The N of BNF, even if he prefer the N to stand for "Normal". He is most known here for mandating the use of Danish translations of computer terms when he worked at DIKU.

2004 Cerf, Vinton G. 2004 Kahn, Robert E: Someone in Al Gore's staff.

2003 Kay, Alan: Always talking about nothing at all,

2002 Adleman, Leonard M. 2002 Rivest, Ronald L. 2002 Shamir, Adi: Adleman should be last, I would not recognize the names individually.

2001 Dahl, Ole-Johan 2001 Nygaard, Kristen: I'll simulate knowledge of then one, if you get the message.

2000 Yao, Andrew Chi-Chih 1999 Brooks, Frederick P. 1998 Gray, James: Dunno

1997 Engelbart, Douglas: Just some wimp.

1996 Pnueli, Amir 1995 Blum, Manuel 1994 Feigenbaum, Edward 1994 Reddy, Raj 1993 Hartmanis, Juris 1993 Stearns, Richard E. 1992 Lampson, Butler W.: Dunno

1991 Milner, Robin: Something with semantics...

1990 Corbato, Fernando J. 1989 Kahan, William (Velvel) 1988 Sutherland, Ivan 1987 Cocke, John 1986 Hopcroft, John 1986 Tarjan, Robert 1985 Karp, Richard M.: Dunno.

1984 Wirth, Niklaus: You can call him by value; or you can call him by name.

1983 Ritchie, Dennis M. 1983 Thompson, Ken: Doug McIllroy should have been there.

1982 Cook, Stephen A. 1981 Codd, Edgar F.: Dunno.

1980 Hoare, C. Antony R. : More formalisms.

1979 Iverson, Kenneth E. 1978 Floyd, Robert W : Dunno

1977 Backus, John: SOME WORK ON AUTOMATED FORMULA TRANSLATION.

1976 Rabin, Michael O. 1976 Scott, Dana S. 1975 Newell, Allen 1975 Simon, Herbert A.: Dunno

1974 Knuth, Donald E. : Worst case of "to write the perfect thesis, you must find the perfect pen" EVER.

1973 Bachman, Charles W.: Dunno.

1972 Dijkstra, E. W.: How to GOTO along the shortest path. He don't like Wirthless, so I like him.

1971 McCarthy, John: (when (version 2.0) 'ready-p)

1970 Wilkinson, J. H.: Dunno.

1969 Minsky, Marvin: Not half as smart as his computer.

1968 Hamming, Richard 1967 Wilkes, Maurice V 1966 Perlis, A. J.: Dunno.

--

Summary: 22 dunno's and 15 knowns (by year), so I guess you are right that I shouldn't expect to recognize the name. They do all have Wikipedia pages [wikipedia.org] , but of course these might be written *because* they received the award. From the descriptions there, a handful of the "dunno" invented something I recognize (which is almost like recognizing them), but the rest just "made contributions to" which is more difficult to judge.

Re:Taking the test (2, Informative)

lakeland (218447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115226)

You did roughly as well as me. Here were a few I happened to recognise you missed:

1999, brooks is the mythical man
1996, something in compiler (langauge) theory from memory. Program proofs?
1981, You'll curse yourself for forgetting if I tell you - easy one.
1980, was Tony Hoare's Turing award for formalisms? I thought it was more prgamatic. Though of course he does do a lot of formalism stuff too)
1975, didn't he found expert systems in AI?
1974, beautiful description! Though I've almsot stopped using TeX myself.
1968, see 1981

Re:Taking the test (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18122392)

1999: That was embarassing

1981: I have somehow managed to totally ignore DB stuff, so I don't recognize the name even knowing what he did. But I do know that rel. db are important enough for the award.

1980: Never bothered with why the awards were given, just whether I know the name.

1968: Yes, his invention being named after him and all.

Some were added specifically as award-winners (1)

Goonie (8651) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117192)

A few years ago, I created something at least to stub level for all the Turing award winners who didn't already have articles. So, yes, at the time some of them got articles because they'd gotten the award. But I expect they've been improved considerably since then.

Re:Taking the test (1)

Osvaldo Doederlein (34220) | more than 7 years ago | (#18120332)

Complementing your list (also without google's help...)

Brooks, Frederick P.: The Mythical man Month, No Silver Bullet paper. Processualist.

Milner, Robin: From the Hindler-Millner typesystem used in ML and Haskell, and perhaps other functional languages too. Type inference stuff that gives you all the advantages of static typing without most of the type declaration work.

"1984 Wirth, Niklaus: You can call him by value; or you can call him by name." LOL!!

Codd, Edgar F.: Database pioneer, recently RIP.

Hoare, C. Antony R. : And one of the greatest conference speakers I've ever seen, a few years ago in ECCOP. Da man used a few old-style transparent sheets, with hand-drawing of the stuff he was talking about (a formalism/algebra to track pointers in ways that should be useful to compilers etc), superposing and moving several sheets together to make animations and special effects. Terribly humiliating for people like me who have to sweat hours on a colorful PowerPoint before making a good presentation.

Does she deserve the award? (2, Funny)

jacobw (975909) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108944)

I'm not a computer scientist, so I don't know offhand if she deserves the award. However, I know a foolproof way to figure out if she does

Just put either her, or a previous winner of the award, in a sealed room and let me ask converse with them via slips of paper passed back and forth. If I can't tell the difference, then she must deserve the award.

Now, if only I can come up with a clever name for this test...

Re:Does she deserve the award? (1)

seandiggity (992657) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109496)

hahaha...I'm not a big fan of John Searle, but that was funny as hell.

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (1)

bitt3n (941736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111344)

I work in academia - computer science - and I'm not oblivious to the fact that there's a fair bit of 'affirmative action' for women and non-asian minorities to try to 'correct' the 'problem' of under-representation.

As may be the case here, affirmative action can worsen the problem it is trying to solve by inclining people to suspect that any accolade awarded to a member of a relevant group is unjustly bestowed, even when this is not true. Thus the blame cannot fall squarely on the shoulders of the person who raises these suspicions, but must be shared by those who promote policies that aggravate them. Whether the benefit of these policies outweigh this cost is worth discussing.

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18110448)

I would bet just about anything that your last name is Sirko.

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (4, Funny)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111448)

And, if we're lucky, maybe at some point they can dedge up a Native American with some mediocre qualifications too.

Yeah, next thing you know they'll be giving it to some gay guy.

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111956)

Will not...will not make Steve Jobs joke...will not make Steve Jobs joke....will not make...

-Eric

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (1)

RegularFry (137639) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112378)

Oh, for mod points - +5, funny :-)

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (1)

bluewhale (764435) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117822)

Yeah, but then it won't be so unexpected since Turing himself is gay.

Re:So, has the black guy won yet? (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18123400)

Yeah, but then it won't be so unexpected since Turing himself is gay.

He is? What a coincidence that I made that joke entirely by accident!

(btw, I'm pretty sure he's dead)

So wait... (3, Funny)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108098)

...Does this mean she's a cylon?

Ryan Fenton

Re:So wait... (1)

cp.tar (871488) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108252)

If she is, I propose a toast for our new toaster overlords.

Re:So wait... (1)

hanzoach (633415) | more than 7 years ago | (#18117292)

Hmm.. 74.. is she in Korea ?

Ironic (4, Interesting)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108166)

I was glad to hear Fran Allen had won the Turing prize and went searching for an inspirational quote that would help me to appreciate the genius that sets her apart from other humans.

But alas... I only found these [thinkexist.com] .

So I'm left wondering... maybe Fran Allen IS a computer...(?)

In which case... I'm excited! Fran Allen deserves the Turing prize!

Re:Ironic (2, Informative)

skoaldipper (752281) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108640)

She [ibm.com] is the real deal alright.

Re:Ironic (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109090)

So, what exactly ARE these "algorithms and technologies that are the basis for the theory of program optimization today and are widely used throughout the industry"?

This is /., there must be hundreds of programmers here from every industry imaginable. Has anyone here ever even heard this woman's name before today?

-Eric

Re:Ironic (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18109512)

From TFPR

"Allen's 1966 paper, Program Optimization, laid the conceptual basis for systematic analysis and transformation of computer programs. Her 1970 papers, Control Flow Analysis and A Basis for Program Optimization established "intervals" as the context for efficient and effective data flow analysis and optimization. Much of her early work was done in collaboration with John Cocke, an IBM computer scientist who died in 2002. Her 1971 paper with John Cocke, A Catalog of Optimizing Transformations, provided the first description and systematization of optimizing transformations. She developed and implemented her methods as part of building compilers for the IBM STRETCH-HARVEST and the experimental Advanced Computing System. This work established the feasibility of modern machine- and language-independent optimizers."

Re:Ironic (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110084)

There is something peculiar about how far you have to dig to even find what she worked on (optimizing compilers, apparently) and no one here seems to have heard of her. If you look at the history of the Lovelace Awards [awc-hq.org] , she's only noted as "First woman to be named IBM Fellow", in contrast to "Adele Mildred Koss: Developed the first compilers" or "Betty Holberton: One of the six original programmers of ENIAC".

Re:Ironic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18108756)

Your post is an interesting example of a comment that would be highly unlikely to have been written by a computer. The nuanced observations and extrapolations seem very human indeed. But if you are a computer then your programmer deserves the Loebner prize [loebner.net] .

Yeah... (3, Funny)

tcdk (173945) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108250)

So, what kind of test did she have to complete to qualify?

Re:Yeah... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108958)

The Loebner Test, obviously...

pfth! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18108300)

who cares, computers are just a fad, they're never going to catch on anyway.

Fran on Wikipedia (4, Interesting)

shudde (915065) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108486)

Without getting too far into discussing whether she merited the award or not, since I'm not really qualified to judge. I find it interesting that her Wikipedia entry was only created on 6 February 2007 by a username that has made no other edits. I've always found the Wikipedia coverage of computer science fairly comprehensive.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fran_Allen [wikipedia.org]
Edit history of Jtaylord [wikipedia.org]

Re:Fran on Wikipedia (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108996)

Not to mention the fact that it just repeats, verbatim, her bio [witi.com] from a 1997 award she won.

-Eric

Re:Fran on Wikipedia (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109048)

I've always found the Wikipedia coverage of computer science fairly comprehensive
Coverage of computer science is good. Coverage of computer scientists is not. I was sent a link to a computer scientist on Wikipedia a few weeks ago, and it had the 'this is a stub' header across it. I tried searching for a few people I knew to be leaders in fields I've interacted with, and found that some were stubs and most didn't exist. Few people since Church and Turing have full articles, including most of the recent winners of the Grace Murray Hopper Award [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Fran on Wikipedia (1)

zen-theorist (930637) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109258)

Computer scientists in universities are well-represented in Wikipedia, because they are known by their students who have all the time in the world. Computer scientists at IBM/Microsoft Research are not all that well-represented, because they are known only by their boss and subordinates, both of who never heard of Wikipedia.

Not only have I not heard of Fran Allen but... (2, Interesting)

cmacb (547347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18108916)

I'm surprised Grace Hopper never received the award. When I was coming up in the industry she was always cited as one of the great pioneers of computing.

Re:Not only have I not heard of Fran Allen but... (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109894)

It would seem to be a slight of epic proportions... I wonder if they would deign to give her one now? But let's face it, the computing field has been male-dominated since its inception -- there's no reason to wonder it took so long for a woman of Fran Allen's stature to win the award. Perhaps this will bring to light the contributions of other women in the field.

Re:Not only have I not heard of Fran Allen but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18110312)

the computing field has been male-dominated since its inception
Ada Lovelace [wikipedia.org]

Re:Not only have I not heard of Fran Allen but... (1)

lord_mike (567148) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112104)

No slight...

She invented COBOL.

That fact alone should prevent her from receiving any major computer science award for at least the next 1000 years.

Thanks,

Mike

Alan Turing vs. Grace Hopper (1)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112656)

Alan Turing never won the Grace Murray Hopper Award [wikipedia.org] either, so that seems fair.

Well, him being dead well before the GH award was invented could explain it, but none the less. Having an award named after you kind of make up for not winning an award.

Re:Not only have I not heard of Fran Allen but... (2, Interesting)

OldAndInTheWay (109936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112730)

I am lucky (and old) enough to have attended a lecture by Grace Hopper. She had an uncommon skill at presenting computing technology that was accessible to both technical and nontechnical folks. Fascinating, dynamic, a chain smoker, and perhaps all of 5 feet tall. I still have one of her nanoseconds - a wire cut to the length that an electrical signal can travel in a nanosecond.

Re:Not only have I not heard of Fran Allen but... (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115330)

She'd have been TOO early. The Turing awards didn't start until about 1970, by which time she had kinda finished 'Pioneering'.
Not that the Turing awards avoid giving retrospective awards (Naur for instance) but it seems more common to give it to semi recent research.

I agree (1)

MarkoNo5 (139955) | more than 7 years ago | (#18115394)

She was the first person to realise you could use computers for other things than computing mathematical formulas, and that it should be programmable in a language resembling english. To realize that in that time must have taken an insane amount of insight. Many advances come from seeing a problem, and solving it. But she didn't really have problem to see! Everybody else thought she was crazy, that it could never be done. Computers performed mathematical calculations and were programmed using assembly or machine code! Where did she get those ideas?

Re:I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18117830)

This is why you want both men and women working on a project. Not that any one is better than the other, but both points of view need to be explored in order to find the real gems lurking within. When you have a monoculture, something suffers.

No, the cat does not "got my tongue." (-1, Flamebait)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 7 years ago | (#18109494)

[Frances] Allen,74, is the first woman to receive the Turing Award in the 41 years of its history.


How do you know she is a woman?

> You are a woman, right?
> Yes
> Prove it
> I have boobs and a kootch and wear dresses
> And what else?
> Uhh, stockings and high heels?
> Good, what else?
> And panties
> What kind of panties?
> Sheer black with open crotch.
> How do I know you're really a woman and not some man faking me out?
> Here's a picture
Frances wants to send you a picture.
You accept the picture.
> Wow, you're gorgeous! Hey, I thought you were in your 70's!
> Uhhh, yeah, this is from when I was younger.
> Nobody was taking pictures of themselves like this 50 years ago!
> Uhhh, I was.
> That's a Sammy Sosa Louisville Slugger in the picture.
> Uhhhh, I have to go thx bye!
> Wait!
>
> Wait!
> What?
> Don't go, I don't really care.
> :)
> So, what are you wearing with the panties?

Re:No, the cat does not "got my tongue." (1)

CelticLo (575344) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110218)

You'll be digging up Ada next.

Re:No, the cat does not "got my tongue." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18111662)

Flamebait? Troll? This is humor, you twits!

Turing Test, is it really a female, prompt-based interaction turning into a lame cybersex, making a joke of women pretending to be men in cybersex.

Pearls before swine.

I, for one (1)

ACE209 (1067276) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110070)

I, for one, shall greet our new 'female geek' overlords.

(sorry for that - but the overlord-semi-joke was posted only once here - until now.)

Too much Aqua Teen... (1)

nospmiS remoH (714998) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110768)

Man, this is sad. I was scanning the RSS and I read "Frat Aliens Win ..." and of course I clicked the link immediately based on that :).

Re:Too much Aqua Teen... (1)

nb caffeine (448698) | more than 7 years ago | (#18111062)

My dad totally owns this dealership

Re:Too much Aqua Teen... (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#18112028)

"Frat Aliens Win ..."

You know, the great thing is, no matter how you finish that title it would make a GREAT movie.

-Eric

Astronomy (3, Funny)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 7 years ago | (#18110906)

I thought she discovered the Fran Allen belts.

Typical. No mention of why. (1)

zuiraM (1027890) | more than 7 years ago | (#18120640)

I'm going to RTFA for this, but why is the article just saying "whoa, a turing award recipient didn't have the Y-chromosome", and not saying *what* she got it for? If her work is so noteworthy as to be deserving of the Turing award, isn't it worth a mention on Slashdot? The real story isn't just that a woman got it, for once, but also what she got it for.

Most, if not all, articles where men get some award, the focus tends to be the work they did, not the fact that they have an extra appendage dangling between their legs...

Only woman? (1)

bronsinbound (669351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18125360)

Didn't Grace Hopper win the Turing Award years ago?
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