MIT's Barbara Liskov Wins Turing Award - InformationWeek

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MIT's Barbara Liskov Wins Turing Award

The second woman ever to win the "Nobel Prize of computing" is turning her focus toward the security of online storage.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Barbara Liskov is the most recent recipient of computing's prestigious A.M. Turing Award. The Association for Computing Machinery this week announced the award, often called the "Nobel Prize of computing." The first woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science, she is only the second woman to win the Turing prize.

Liskov, the head of the programming methodology group in MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, last year was named an MIT Institute Professor -- the highest faculty honor at MIT.

Liskov, 69, is best known for her work in data abstraction, which organizes complex software programs. She's now turning her considerable software programming talents to distributed systems, in particular the challenges presented by online storage.

"My focus recently has been on the security of online storage," she said in a Q&A in MIT's Tech Talk newspaper. "I believe that more and more users will store their information online, but the storage they use needs to be implemented so that they don't lose their information, their information is available when they need it, and they can be confident that their confidential information will not be leaked."

Her early work surfaced in two programming languages -- CLU in the 1970s and Argus in the 1980s -- and led the way to important software design innovations that have been evident in major programming languages since 1975, including Ada, C++, Java, and C#.

"Barbara Liskov pioneered some of the most important advances in fundamental computer science," said MIT provost L. Rafael Reif. "Her exceptional achievements have leapt from the halls of academia to transform daily life around the world. Every time you exchange e-mail with a friend, check your bank statement online, or run a Google search, you are riding the momentum of her research."

The award, named after the brilliant mathematician Alan Turing, who broke the Nazi enigma code during World War II, carries a prize of $250,000.

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