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2005 Dr. Dobb's Journal Excellence in Programming Award


The Dr. Dobb's Journal Excellence in Programming Award is annually bestowed on individuals who, in the spirit of innovation and cooperation, have made significant contributions to the advancement of software development.

This year's recipient, Guy L. Steele Jr., is unique in that he's receiving this award not necessarily for his focus on a specific language, tool, or operating system, but for the breadth of his contributions over the years. To give you a sense, Steele is the author or coauthor of books on Lisp, C, Fortran, and Java. Along with James Gosling and Bill Joy, he wrote the original specification for Java. He is credited as cocreator (with Gerald Sussman) of the Scheme language. Steele has been awarded more than 30 patents on technologies ranging from network configuration to floating-point calculations. He designed the original EMACS command set and was the first person to port TeX. Steele has served on accredited standards committees for C, Fortran, Common Lisp, and Scheme, and is the author of dozens of technical papers, including the influential "Lambda Papers" (cowritten with Sussman) that questioned common assumptions about programming practices and language implementations, and on topics such as compilers, parallel processing, and constraint languages. That said, his legacy may well be the legendary "The Telnet Song ('Control-Uparrow Q')," a humorous song dedicated to late-night hacking originally published in the Communications of the ACM.

In addition, Steele has found time to serve on Ph.D. thesis committees for numerous students and chair a number of ACM conference programs.

His contributions over the years have not gone without recognition. The Association for Computing Machinery awarded him the 1988 Grace Murray Hopper Award and named him an ACM Fellow in 1994, and he was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence. He led the team that received a 1990 Gordon Bell Prize honorable mention for achieving the fastest speed to that date for a production application — 14.182 Gigaflops. He was also awarded the 1996 ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award. In 2001, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering of the United States of America. In 2002, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Steele currently is a Sun Fellow, Distinguished Engineer, and Principal Investigator at Sun Microsystems Laboratories, where he is responsible for research in programming languages, parallel algorithms, implementation strategies, and architectural and software support. In general, Steele's Programming Language Research group is working to increase programmer productivity through improvements to existing programming languages and possibly the design of "the next Java." This includes applying the lessons learned from Java to the next generation of programming languages.

Steele earned a Bachelor's Degree in applied mathematics at Harvard College, and a Masters and Ph.D. in computer science and artificial intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has also been an assistant professor of computer science at Carnegie-Mellon University, a member of technical staff at Tartan Labs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a senior scientist at Thinking Machines. He joined Sun Microsystems in 1994.

At his request and in his name, Dr. Dobb's Journal is pleased to make a grant of $1000.00 to to an educational program of his choice. Please join us in honoring Steele's contribution to the art and science of software development.

Past recipients of the Excellence in Programming Award include:

  • Alexander Stepanov, for his work on the C++ Standard Template Library.
  • Linus Torvalds, a name synonymous with Linux.
  • Larry Wall, author of Perl.
  • James Gosling, chief architect of Java.
  • Ronald Rivest, educator, author, and cryptographer.
  • Gary Kildall, for his work in operating systems, programming languages, and user interfaces.
  • Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, John Vlissides, and Ralph Johnson, authors of Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software.
  • Guido van Rossum, Python creator.
  • Donald Becker, Linux networking contributor and chief investigator of the Beowulf Project.
  • Jon Bentley, computer science author and researcher.
  • Anders Hejlsberg, developer of Turbo Pascal and architect of C# and the .NET Framework.
  • Adele Goldberg and Dan Ingalls, pioneers in Smalltalk and object-oriented programming.
  • Don Chamberlin, a database researcher and coauthor of SQL.
  • P.J. Plauger, a longtime champion of the C/C++ programming languages.


Jonathan is editor-in-chief of DDJ and can be contacted at jerickson@ddj.com


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