John Cocke

John Cocke
John Cocke
Charlotte, NC, USA
Associated organizations
Fields of study
IEEE John von Neumann Medal


John Cocke was born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1925. He received the B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, in 1946, and the Ph.D. in Mathematics, also from Duke University, in 1956.

Dr. Cocke joined the IBM Research Division in 1956 and has been a key figure in some of the company's most advanced technological developments, including his pivotal contributions to the development of Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) technology. RISC is a computer architecture that simplifies computer, instructions and reduces operation cycles. In addition to RISC, Dr. Cocke has contributed to advances in large systems architecture and the design and theory of optimizing compilers (the software that transforms user programs into machine-readable programs). He also was involved with the Stretch computer, the engineering verification engine for logic simulation, pipelining (a type of parallel processing which has become an integral part of mainframe computers), and the architecture for IBM's RISC System/6000 workstation.

Dr. Cocke's invention ofRISC and its subsequent developments have had a major impact on the computer industry in general. Many computer companies around the world have sought licenses from IBM and several other companies who have pioneered in RISC technology. Many other companies have developed RISC-based microprocessors which are widely licensed throughout the world. It is clear that RISC processors and RISC microprocessors are key, components of many of the emerging parallel machine designs that are the vanguard of the next generation.

Dr. Cocke is the recipient of a number of honors for his achievements, including: the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Programming Systems and Languages Award (1976), with an IBM collegue; the ACM/IEEE Computer Society Eckert-Mauchly Award (1985); the ACM A. M, Turing Award (1987); the National Medal of Technology (1991); and, with three IBM colleagues, was named 1992 Inventor of the Year by the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO). Dr. Cocke also has received several IBM corporate awards for outstanding technical achievement, including appointment as IBM Fellow in 1972, He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1979 and was named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1988.

Dr. Cocke has been awarded 22 patents and has published over 20 technical papers in the field, He has been a visiting professor teaching computer design at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences,

Dr. Cocke and his wife, Anne, resided in Bedford, New York. His major topic of research interest was systems architecture, particularly design and program optimization.