Ernst is being honored for his contributions to programmer productivity. "My primary research area is programmer productivity, which spans the spectrum from software engineering, to program analysis (both static and dynamic), to programming language design," explains Ernst. "My broader computer science research interests range over a wide variety of fascinating topics, with no end to the fun in sight."
Created by IBM to honor mid-career university faculty members -- one from a developed and another from an emerging country -- 2009 is the award's inaugural year. In May, Radu Marinescu, an Associate Professor of Automation and Computer Science at the University of Timisoara, Romania, was recognized as the recipient among faculty in the emerging world. Recipients were decided upon by both an internal and external committees.
"We chose this year's winners of the Backus award from an outstanding field," said Mark Wegman, IBM Fellow and head of computer science at IBM Research who also helped create the award. "I expect that more than one of the applicants will have an excellent chance at winning the Turing Award or other top honors as their careers unfold."
Both award recipients follow in the footsteps of John W. Backus, the creator of the Fortran programming language, as they work to enable programmers to gain productivity through their research accomplishments.