Bell Labs’ Role in Programming Languages and Algorithms

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Simons Foundation Lectures are free public colloquia related to basic science and mathematics. These high-level talks are intended for professors, students, postdocs and business professionals, but interested people from the metropolitan area are welcome as well.
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Bell Labs is deservedly renowned for its invention of the transistor, but this talk will demonstrate that its contributions to programming languages and algorithms have been equally instrumental to the flowering of the Information Age.

In this lecture, Alfred V. Aho will discuss the role that software plays in the modern world. Few people appreciate what software really is, how critical software systems are to the functioning of society, how much software there actually is and how much investment there is in the software infrastructure. Programming languages and algorithms are at the heart of all software. Aho will discuss the development of some key ideas in programming languages and algorithms that were invented at Bell Labs, ideas that are now routinely used throughout the world.

Alfred V. Aho is Lawrence Gussman Professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. Prior to working at Columbia, he was vice president of the Computing Sciences Research Center at Bell Labs, the center that created the Unix operating system and the C and C++ programming languages. Aho is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He won the IEEE John von Neumann Medal for his contributions to computer science.

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