Leslie Lamport, MA'63, PhD'72, wins the ‘Nobel of Computing’
The Association for Computing Machinery named Leslie Lamport, MA'63, PhD'72, the recipient of the 2013 A.M. Turing Award, an honor widely known as the 'Nobel of Computing.'
Lamport, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, received both his degrees from Brandeis University in mathematics.
For those outside computer science, Lamport is probably best known for developing LaTeX, a typesetting system ubiquitous in technical and scientific publications, but his most pioneering work explored the seemingly chaotic world of distributed computing systems.
His work is credited with laying the foundation of distributed systems, which are the building blocks for cloud computing and large scale database systems, contributing to the reliability of their software and hardware design.
These systems, such as Cloud platforms, are composed of multiple complex components, each just as likely to fail as the next. Lamport developed a way to make these systems reliable, so if one part breaks, the whole system doesn’t crumble.
Along similar lines, Lamport conceived the impact of viruses and rogue software long before they were an issue in computing, defined how the systems attacked by them may behave and proposed a solution to prevent failure in a system containing components that behave wrong.
“There is so much in the bowels on the Internet that bears his fingerprints,” says Liuba Shrira, professor of computer science. “As consumers, we rely on his work. He helped build reliable systems that impact everyone.”