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Alfred Aho Receives 2003 John von Neumann Medal for Computer Science Achievements

By Joseph Kennedy

Alfred V. Aho

Alfred V. Aho, professor of computer science at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named the recipient of the 2003 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) John von Neumann Medal. The award is presented for outstanding achievements in computer-related science and technology. Aho will receive the Medal at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony in June.

Aho, who is also chair of Computer Science at Columbia, is internationally known for his fundamental research in algorithms, programming languages and compilers, pattern matching tools, and theoretical computer science. He is a creator, with Peter Weinberger and Brian Kernighan, of the widely used pattern-matching language AWK. He also wrote the string pattern-matching programs egrep and fgrep that first appeared on UNIX, and is co-author of many textbooks on algorithms and data structures, compilers, and the foundations of computer science. His current research interests include programming languages, compilers, and algorithms for next generation machines including quantum computers.

"Al is a great computer scientist as well as great teacher and educator. The 10 textbooks he has written cover at least four different areas of computer science, and have been translated into many languages for thousands of students all over the world," said Zvi Galil, dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. "He is a true leader in the computer science community."

Aho was chair of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computability Theory, and served as chair of the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.

Before joining Columbia, Aho was vice president of the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs, the lab that invented UNIX, C and C++. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Helsinki and Waterloo, and is a fellow of AAAS, ACM, Bell Labs, and IEEE. He holds a B.A.Sc in engineering physics from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering/computer science from Princeton University.

The IEEE Board of Directors established the IEEE John von Neumann Medal in 1990. It is named in honor of the eminent mathematician whose work at Princeton University's Institute for Advanced Study led to the building of the IAS binary stored-program computer in 1952. The Medal may be presented annually 'for outstanding achievements in computer-related science and technology.' These achievements can be theoretical, technological, or entrepreneurial.

The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society with more than 380,000 members in approximately 150 countries. Through its members, the IEEE is a leading authority on areas ranging from aerospace, computers and telecommunications to biomedicine, electric power and consumer electronics.

The IEEE produces 30 percent of the world's literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed more than 900 active industry standards. The organization also sponsors or cosponsors more than 300 international technical conferences each year.

Published: May 30, 2003
Last modified: May 29, 2003

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