Person: Dijkstra, Edsger Wybe
Edsger Wybe Dijkstra was a Dutch mathematician and computer scientist best known for his shortest-path algorithm in graph theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Aad van Wijngaarden, who was the director of the Computation Department of the Mathematical Centre in Amsterdam, had taken the same course in Cambridge in the previous year and when he learnt that Dijkstra had completed it, he offered him a position as a programmer of the Mathematical Centre.
- Dijkstra accepted the position from March 1952 but it only as a part-time position for he was still registered as a student of theoretical physics at the University of Leyden.
- Having taken the decision, Dijkstra completed his studies in theoretical physics at the university, graduating in 1956.
- Dijkstra, who was a member of the team, made several major contributions: due to him was the explicit introduction of recursion and in handling recursion he introduced the notion of a 'stack', a word due to Dijkstra which is now totally standard terminology.
- Dijkstra, together with one of his colleagues at the Mathematical Centre, wrote the first compiler for ALGOL-60 which was completed by August 1960.
- In 1962 Dijkstra was appointed Professor of Mathematics at the Eindhoven University of Technology.
- In 1972 Dijkstra won the ACM Turing Award which is considered the most prestigious award in Computer Science.
- Dijkstra visited the Burroughs Research Center in Austin, Texas, from the late 1970s and while on these visits he came to know well the Computer Science Department at the University of Texas.
- Let us now look at some of the books which Dijkstra published.
- First we look at Structured programming, a book which contains three monographs, the one written by Dijkstra being Notes on structured programming (1973).
- In 1982 Selected writings on computing: a personal perspective by Dijkstra was published which collected together 66 of his papers written between 1968 and 1979, most of which had not previously been published.
- Finally let us look at some of the many honours which have been given to Dijkstra in recognition to his outstanding contributions.
- Other awards and honours to Dijkstra include his election to the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (1971); elected Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society (1971), received the AFIPS Harry Goode Memorial Award (1974), made a Foreign Honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1975); awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by Queen's University of Belfast (1976); given the Computer Pioneer Award from the IEEE Computer Society (1982); given the ACM/SIGCSE Award for outstanding contributions to computer science education (1989); elected an ACM Fellow(1994), awarded an honorary doctorate by Athens University, Greece (2001); given the ACM Influential Paper Award for his paper Self-stabilizing systems in spite of distributed control (2002).
Born 11 May 1930, Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Died 6 August 2002, Nuenen, The Netherlands.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive