Category Archives: Nerdy

Role Model Sunday: Frances E. Allen

Frances Allen, (cc wikimedia)
Frances Allen, (cc wikimedia)

As the first woman to ever receive a Turing Award for her work, Frances Elizabeth Allen is for sure a woman to be seen as a role model. She received the so called “nobel prize of computing” for

[…] pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution.
(Association For Computing Machinery (ACM), Citation for the A.M. Turing Award 2006)

After earning B.Sc. and M.Sc degrees in Mathematics, she started to teach at a school in Peru, New York (yep, there’s a city named like a country). She joined IBM in 1957, planning on paying off her school loans with that job – but she stayed with IBM for the rest of her career.

Let’s hear some more about her from the ACM:

[…] she introduced many abstractions, algorithms, and implementations that laid the groundwork for automatic program optimization technology, […] introduced the use of graph-theoretic structures to […] efficiently derive relationships and identify opportunities for optimization. […] Her 1976 paper with Cocke describes one of the two main analysis strategies used in optimizing compilers today.
(Association For Computing Machinery (ACM), Citation for the A.M. Turing Award 2006)

And that’s still not all of it. In 1989, Fran Allen was the first woman to become an IBM Fellow. Every year, the current CEO of IBM appoints 4 to 9 researchers at IBM an “IBM Fellow”, which is the highest honor a scientiest, engineer or programmer at IBM can receive. The Fellow Programme was created in 1962, in order to promote creativity among the company’s most exceptional technical professionals, only choosing people who will also be making important contributions in future.

Upon retiring in 2002, Fran Allen received the Ada Lovelace Award of the Association for Women in Computing. After also being awarded the Turing Award by the ACM (see citations above) in 2007 (for 2006), she was awarded an honorary doctor in science degree at SUNY University, Albany. In 2009, she received an honorary doctor of science degree at McGill University for her work.

For more information on Fran Allen, here’s her wikipedia entry, which was where I found most of my information for this short portrait. Sorry if some sentences sound very alike, but rephrasing is a bit hard sometimes 😉

Also, if you want to hear Fran Allen speak about her work herself, you can find her Turing Lecture Video here.

Museum recap: Technical Museum

To accomplish one of the many exercises IT students have to complete for a positive grade in “Gesellschaftliche Spannungsfelder der Informatik” (roughly “Areas of conflict in between Society and IT”), we had to pay a visit to the Technical Museum in Vienna. We, that’s me and a couple of friends from University, and we had a great time at the Museum on April 20th.

Enjoy the pictures of some grown-up nerds, childishly exploring and enjoying the museum!

Museum recap: Museum of Natural History

On May 12th, Georg and I decided to pay a visit to the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.

It is situated close to the city center of vienna, just 2 minutes from Heldenplatz, and right opposite the Museum of Fine Arts. The special thing about these two musems is that they look the same from the outside, except for some details as statues on the facade and the dedication over the main doors.

The entry fee for students is € 5, so if you don’t plan on going to the NHM (German short for the museum that I will use now) at least 6 times within a year’s time, and you’re a student with a valid student’s ID, it’s better for you to just stick to the normal day passes. Awesome, in my point of view!

The NHM was built in order to host the “k. u. k. Naturalienkabinett”, the huge collections the Habsburg emperors had accumulated through years and decades of exploring our world.

Because of the Habsburg’s acquisitiveness and the hard work of the museum curators, in the last 250 years, over 25 million objects (!) have found their way to the museum. Of course, only a fractional amount of this collections can be shown in the museum itself – and still, some rooms seem to be crowded with exhibits 🙂

Also, the exhibits are not the only thing to be amazed by. Just like the Museum of Fine Arts on the other side of the square, NHM is a masterpiece by itself. Take time to take in the frescoes, the stucco works, the busts and so on. You won’t regret it 🙂

I didn’t take too many pictures, but let me assure you: the 5 to 10 Euros you will spend on the ticket, depending on if you’re a student or not, are totally worth it. Just make sure to be well rested, wear comfy shoes and have something to drink with you. The geological collections alone can keep you staring for hours.

Me wants!

I want one like that for my flat door, saying:

“You might enter iff you bring something we will like.”

By the way, since I have started studying IT, I indeed understand more and more of the XCD comics. But also without special knowledge, one can understand. If you don’t, there’s still wikipedia.