Tony Hoare

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Professor Sir Tony Hoare has established the foundation of much that is taken for granted today in software design. A major portion of Hoare’s 50-plus-year scientific career has been devoted to developing the theoretical underpinnings of software to the point where its creation becomes a true engineering field. His work also has had practical impact, with application to commercial software development projects involving database management systems for the telecommunications industry and security and safety applications in the medical, transportation, and nuclear power industries. Hoare invented the Quicksort sorting algorithm in 1960, which has been widely studied and implemented in modern computers. He also led a team during the 1960s that developed a successful early compiler for the ALGOL 60 high-level language. His compiler checked all array subscripts at run-time, which is a precaution now common in modern object-oriented languages. Rejecting shared variable interaction, he proposed “communicating sequential processes” to address concurrency issues among programs. This bold step was very influential and saw application in the U.S. Department of Defense’s Ada language. It was also the inspiration for the Occam programming language used in the transputer microprocessor developed during the 1980s for parallel computing. More recent work from Hoare involves working on the theory that would underpin a verification toolset and encouraging computer scientists to work together toward its achievement.

A Fellow of the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering and a foreign associate of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, he is currently a principal researcher with Microsoft Research Ltd., Cambridge, U.K.