Alan Perlis

Alan " Al " Jay Perlis ( born April 1, 1922 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; † 7 February 1990 in New Haven, Connecticut ) was an American computer scientist who has contributed significantly to the fact that computer science at American universities became a separate trade.


Perlis received his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1943 at the Carnegie Institute of Technology (later Carnegie Mellon University) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in 1949 and his master's degree in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge. There he received his doctorate in 1950 with work on Integral Equations, Their Solution by Iteration and Analytic Continuation at Philip Franklin, and then looked at the computer project Whirlwind ( briefly interrupted by his work at the Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground ).

From 1952 to 1956 he worked at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics. During this time he established the Computer Laboratory of the University. In 1956 he moved to the Carnegie Institute of Technology, where he first worked as a professor of mathematics and at the same time as director of the Computation Center of the University. In 1958 he offered to first courses in programming, and from 1960 he headed the Department of Mathematics. With Allen Newell, Herbert Simon and others, he established the interdisciplinary Systems and Communications Sciences program. In the years 1962 to 1965, he developed a curriculum for a new subject, the Computer Science was called. It corresponds to the computer science in Germany. He became the first director of the company founded in 1965 Department of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. From 1971 on, he has, with built as a professor of computer science, the new Department of Computer Science, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, which he also ran from 1976 to 1977 and from 1978 to 1980, interrupted by a visiting professorship at the California Institute of Technology.


The scientific work of Alan J. Perlis were the construction of compilers and especially the design of programming languages. He has developed several compiler for mathematical formula languages, including from 1955 to 1957 the Internal Translator ( IT) for the computer IBM 650 He was also involved in the design of programming languages ​​60 Algol 58 and Algol, which had a significant influence on the development of modern programming languages. Together with Renato Iturriaga he has Formula Algol developed an extension of Algol for symbolic mathematics. He also has the programming Language for Conversational Computing ( LCC) for the computer IBM 360/367 designed. He became famous by the frequently cited article Epigrams in Programming, which he published in 1982 in the Journal of the ACM SIGPLAN. It contains numerous epigrams, in which he summarizes his findings in a humorous way as a computer.

To Perlis ' PhD student include the later computer science professors Gary Lindstrom, Zohar Manna and David Parnas.

His writing lights discount is given at the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.


For his scientific achievements Alan J. Perlis received in 1966 the first Turing Award of the ACM. In 1984 he was awarded the AFIPS Education Award, 1985, he received the Pioneer Award from the IEEE. Four universities awarded him an honorary doctorate. He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering of the United States. From 1962 to 1964 he was president of the ACM, after he had previously been since 1958, the first editor of the Communications of the ACM.