Wednesday, February 14, 2007

EATCS Award 2007

Breaking news. The EATCS award 2007 will go to Dana Scott (CMU). The official motivation for the award is appended. I nominated somebody else, but there is no arguing about an award to the father of the denotational semantics of programming languages :-)

Dana Scott has also received the following prizes:

LeRoy P. Steele Prize American Mathematical Society, 1972
Turing Award (with Michael Rabin) Association for Computing Machinery, 1976
Harold Pender Award University of Pennsylvania, 1990
Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, 1997
Bolzano Medal for Merit in the Mathematical Sciences Czech Academy of Sciences, 2001

See here for some biographical information.



Dana Scott is an outstanding scientist with a deep and lasting influence on Theoretical Computer Science. In a few words his contributions belong to three tracks of fundamental research:

- The introduction, in collaboration with Rabin, of non-deterministic machines in Automata Theory, which earned them the 1976 ACM Turing Award.

- The mathematical foundation to the denotational semantics of programming languages, also known as the Scott-Strachey approach to semantics, for which he is best known in Theoretical Computer Science.

- The invention of LCF (Logic for Computable Functions), which was hugely influential in the development of program logics and modern proof checking technology.

More recently he has further advanced the foundations of denotational semantics in two directions: Synthetic Domain Theory (a way to view domains as sets in a non-standard set theory) and Equilogical Spaces, which appear to be a natural extension of domains.

In 1930-40 the work of mathematicians such as Goedel, Turing, Tarski, and Church had profound consequences on Mathematical Logic and gave origin to Computability Theory. Dana Scott is among the top researchers who carried that mathematical tradition into Computer Science. Denotational semantics is the natural evolution of Tarskian (compositional) semantics for logical languages into the realm of programming languages, and Domain Theory provides the needed semantic objects. In particular, effectively-given domains (and Information Systems) extend the notion of computability well beyond natural numbers and strings.

LCF was a major contribution to program logics, which led to work on PCF, sequentiality, higher-type computability, and modern proof checking technology.

Dana Scott has obtained fundamental results also in Set Theory, Model Theory, Modal Logic, Topology, Category Theory, and Realizability. His work on constructive mathematics, and also his lucid expositions of the work of others, had a great influence on the uses non-classical logics (e.g. constructive reasoning, modal logics for concurrency, propositions-as-types) in computing. He made a whole generation see the potential of non-standard logics, an idea as revolutionary as the one of non-standard geometries had been.

Dana Scott's research career has spanned Computer Science, Mathematics, Logic, and Philosophy, and has been characterized by a concern for elucidating fundamental concepts, with a focus on mathematically hard problems that bear on these concepts. His influence in forming
mathematical foundations for Computer Science is now visible over a period of over 40 years. The European research community of Theoretical Computer Science owes a lot to his thoughts and is flourishing while pursuing the directions he started.

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