Kenneth E. Iverson
Encyclopedia
Kenneth Eugene Iverson (17 December 1920 - 19 October 2004) was a Canadian computer scientist
noted for the development of the APL programming language
in 1962. He was honored with the Turing Award
in 1979 for his contributions to mathematical notation
and programming language theory
. The Iverson Award
for contributions to APL was named in his honor.
, a town in central Alberta
, Canada
. His parents were farmers of Norwegian descent who came to Alberta from North Dakota
. While he showed an early aptitude for mathematics
, teaching himself calculus
while a teenager, he left school after the 9th grade to work on his parents' farm. However, during World War II
, while he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force
, he qualified for a high school diploma by taking correspondence courses. After the war, he was able to enter Queen's University
in Kingston, Ontario
and graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor's degree
in Mathematics
and Physics
.
Continuing his education at Harvard University
, he received a Master's degree
in 1951 in Mathematics and started working with Howard Aiken
and Wassily Leontief
. Howard Aiken had developed the Harvard Mark I
, one of the first large-scale digital computers, while Wassily Leontief was an economist who was developing the input-output model
of economic analysis, work for which he would later receive the Nobel prize
. Leontief's model required large matrices and Iverson worked on programs that could evaluate these matrices on the Harvard Mark IV
computer. Iverson received a Ph.D.
in Applied Mathematics
in 1954 with a dissertation based on this work.
Iverson stayed at Harvard as an assistant professor for the next five years but failed to get tenure.
Iverson was hired by IBM in 1960 to develop his notation into a programming language for the IBM System/360.
In 1980, Iverson left IBM for I. P. Sharp Associates
, a leading Canadian APL timesharing company, where he, among other things, participated in the further development of the APL programming language. In 1987 he retired from I. P. Sharp.
In the summer of 1989, Roger Hui
and Arthur Whitney, along with Iverson, produced a short prototype interpreter which would later be the seed for the J language
, a variant of APL. Iverson and Roger Hui
would continue collaborating on J for the next 15 years.
Ken Iverson died of a stroke on October 19, 2004 at the age of 83.
that became known as Iverson Notation for manipulating arrays that he taught to his students, and described in his 1962 book A Programming Language. In 1960, he began work for IBM and working with Adin Falkoff
, created APL based on the notation he had developed. He was named an IBM Fellow
in 1970.
In late 1989, Ken Iverson and Roger Hui
began collaboration on an advanced continuation of an APL-like language which they called J
, first demonstrated publicly at the APL90 conference the next year. The improvements were intended to fix some of the persistent character set issues that plagued APL since its inception, and to add new advanced features such as functional programming
, arrays of variables, and support for parallel MIMD
operations, some of which do not appear in APL today. It was intended that the J language be an improvement over existing APL. The J interpreter and language continues to evolve today. A version is available from J Software under the GPL3 license.
Computer scientist
A computer scientist is a scientist who has acquired knowledge of computer science, the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their application in computer systems....
noted for the development of the APL programming language
Programming language
A programming language is an artificial language designed to communicate instructions to a machine, particularly a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that control the behavior of a machine and/or to express algorithms precisely....
in 1962. He was honored with the Turing Award
Turing Award
The Turing Award, in full The ACM A.M. Turing Award, is an annual award given by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the...
in 1979 for his contributions to mathematical notation
Mathematical notation
Mathematical notation is a system of symbolic representations of mathematical objects and ideas. Mathematical notations are used in mathematics, the physical sciences, engineering, and economics...
and programming language theory
Programming language theory
Programming language theory is a branch of computer science that deals with the design, implementation, analysis, characterization, and classification of programming languages and their individual features. It falls within the discipline of computer science, both depending on and affecting...
. The Iverson Award
Iverson Award
The Iverson Award, more formally the Kenneth E. Iverson Award for Outstanding Contribution to APL, is presented by the Special Interest Group on APL of the Association for Computing Machinery . It is presented to a person who has made significant contributions to the APL programming language or to...
for contributions to APL was named in his honor.
Life
Ken Iverson was born on December 17, 1920 in CamroseCamrose, Alberta
Camrose is a city in central Alberta, Canada, amid some of the richest farmland in the prairies. It is a relatively small city which originally grew up along a railroad and now grows along Highway 13. Camrose is a scenic community with many parks, leading to its moniker "The Rose City"...
, a town in central Alberta
Alberta
Alberta is a province of Canada. It had an estimated population of 3.7 million in 2010 making it the most populous of Canada's three prairie provinces...
, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...
. His parents were farmers of Norwegian descent who came to Alberta from North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....
. While he showed an early aptitude for mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...
, teaching himself calculus
Calculus
Calculus is a branch of mathematics focused on limits, functions, derivatives, integrals, and infinite series. This subject constitutes a major part of modern mathematics education. It has two major branches, differential calculus and integral calculus, which are related by the fundamental theorem...
while a teenager, he left school after the 9th grade to work on his parents' farm. However, during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
, while he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...
, he qualified for a high school diploma by taking correspondence courses. After the war, he was able to enter Queen's University
Queen's University
Queen's University, , is a public research university located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Founded on 16 October 1841, the university pre-dates the founding of Canada by 26 years. Queen's holds more more than of land throughout Ontario as well as Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England...
in Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...
and graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...
in Mathematics
Mathematics
Mathematics is the study of quantity, space, structure, and change. Mathematicians seek out patterns and formulate new conjectures. Mathematicians resolve the truth or falsity of conjectures by mathematical proofs, which are arguments sufficient to convince other mathematicians of their validity...
and Physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...
.
Continuing his education at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...
, he received a Master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...
in 1951 in Mathematics and started working with Howard Aiken
Howard Aiken
Howard Hathaway Aiken was a pioneer in computing, being the original conceptual designer behind IBM's Harvard Mark I computer....
and Wassily Leontief
Wassily Leontief
Wassily Wassilyovich Leontief , was a Russian-American economist notable for his research on how changes in one economic sector may have an effect on other sectors. Leontief won the Nobel Committee's Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1973, and three of his doctoral students have also...
. Howard Aiken had developed the Harvard Mark I
Harvard Mark I
The IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator , called the Mark I by Harvard University, was an electro-mechanical computer....
, one of the first large-scale digital computers, while Wassily Leontief was an economist who was developing the input-output model
Input-output model
In economics, an input-output model is a quantitative economic technique that represents the interdependencies between different branches of national economy or between branches of different, even competing economies. Wassily Leontief developed this type of analysis and took the Nobel Memorial...
of economic analysis, work for which he would later receive the Nobel prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...
. Leontief's model required large matrices and Iverson worked on programs that could evaluate these matrices on the Harvard Mark IV
Harvard Mark IV
The Harvard Mark IV was an electronic stored-program computer built by Harvard University under the supervision of Howard Aiken for the United States Air Force. The computer was finished being built in 1952. It stayed at Harvard, where the Air Force used it extensively.The Mark IV was all electronic...
computer. Iverson received a Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...
in Applied Mathematics
Applied mathematics
Applied mathematics is a branch of mathematics that concerns itself with mathematical methods that are typically used in science, engineering, business, and industry. Thus, "applied mathematics" is a mathematical science with specialized knowledge...
in 1954 with a dissertation based on this work.
Iverson stayed at Harvard as an assistant professor for the next five years but failed to get tenure.
Iverson was hired by IBM in 1960 to develop his notation into a programming language for the IBM System/360.
In 1980, Iverson left IBM for I. P. Sharp Associates
I. P. Sharp Associates
I. P. Sharp Associates, IPSA for short, was a major Canadian computer time sharing, consulting and services firm of the 1970s and 80s. IPSA is particularly well known for its work on the APL programming language, an early packet switching computer network known as IPSANET, and a powerful...
, a leading Canadian APL timesharing company, where he, among other things, participated in the further development of the APL programming language. In 1987 he retired from I. P. Sharp.
In the summer of 1989, Roger Hui
Roger Hui
Roger Hui is a computer scientist and co-developer of the J Programming Language.He was born in Hong Kong and he immigrated to Canada with his entire family in 1966.-Education and career:In 1973, Hui entered the University of Alberta...
and Arthur Whitney, along with Iverson, produced a short prototype interpreter which would later be the seed for the J language
J (programming language)
The J programming language, developed in the early 1990s by Kenneth E. Iverson and Roger Hui, is a synthesis of APL and the FP and FL function-level languages created by John Backus....
, a variant of APL. Iverson and Roger Hui
Roger Hui
Roger Hui is a computer scientist and co-developer of the J Programming Language.He was born in Hong Kong and he immigrated to Canada with his entire family in 1966.-Education and career:In 1973, Hui entered the University of Alberta...
would continue collaborating on J for the next 15 years.
Ken Iverson died of a stroke on October 19, 2004 at the age of 83.
Work
Iverson developed a mathematical notationMathematical notation
Mathematical notation is a system of symbolic representations of mathematical objects and ideas. Mathematical notations are used in mathematics, the physical sciences, engineering, and economics...
that became known as Iverson Notation for manipulating arrays that he taught to his students, and described in his 1962 book A Programming Language. In 1960, he began work for IBM and working with Adin Falkoff
Adin Falkoff
Adin D. Falkoff Born in New Jersey, a researcher and manager at IBM Research since the 1950s for over forty years before retiring. He collaborated with Ken Iverson from 1960 to 1980 on the design, development, and usage of the APL programming language and its interactive environment...
, created APL based on the notation he had developed. He was named an IBM Fellow
IBM Fellow
An IBM Fellow is an appointed position at IBM made by IBM’s CEO. Typically only 4 to 9 IBM Fellows are appointed each year, at the annual Corporate Technical Recognition Event in May or June. It is the highest honor a scientist, engineer, or programmer at IBM can achieve.The IBM Fellows program...
in 1970.
In late 1989, Ken Iverson and Roger Hui
Roger Hui
Roger Hui is a computer scientist and co-developer of the J Programming Language.He was born in Hong Kong and he immigrated to Canada with his entire family in 1966.-Education and career:In 1973, Hui entered the University of Alberta...
began collaboration on an advanced continuation of an APL-like language which they called J
J (programming language)
The J programming language, developed in the early 1990s by Kenneth E. Iverson and Roger Hui, is a synthesis of APL and the FP and FL function-level languages created by John Backus....
, first demonstrated publicly at the APL90 conference the next year. The improvements were intended to fix some of the persistent character set issues that plagued APL since its inception, and to add new advanced features such as functional programming
Functional programming
In computer science, functional programming is a programming paradigm that treats computation as the evaluation of mathematical functions and avoids state and mutable data. It emphasizes the application of functions, in contrast to the imperative programming style, which emphasizes changes in state...
, arrays of variables, and support for parallel MIMD
MIMD
In computing, MIMD is a technique employed to achieve parallelism. Machines using MIMD have a number of processors that function asynchronously and independently. At any time, different processors may be executing different instructions on different pieces of data...
operations, some of which do not appear in APL today. It was intended that the J language be an improvement over existing APL. The J interpreter and language continues to evolve today. A version is available from J Software under the GPL3 license.
Major publications
- A Programming Language, John Wiley and Sons, (1962)
- Automatic Data Processing (with Frederick Brooks), John Wiley and Sons (1963)
- A Formal Description of SYSTEM/360, (with A. D. Falkoff and E. H. Sussenguth), IBM Systems Journal, vol. 3. no. 3, 1964, pp. 198–262.
- Elementary Functions: an algorithmic treatment (Science Research Associates, Inc.) (1966)
- APL\360:User's Manual (with A. D. Falkoff), IBM, 1968
- APL in Exposition, IBM Philadelphia Scientific Center Tech. Report No. 320-3010, IBM, 1972.
- The Design of APL, (with A. D. Falkoff) IBM J. Research and Development, vol. 17, no. 4, 1973, pp. 324–334.
- Notation as a Tool of Thought, Comm. ACM, vol. 23, no. 8, 1980, pp. 444–465.
- A Source Book In APL (with Adin D. FalkoffAdin FalkoffAdin D. Falkoff Born in New Jersey, a researcher and manager at IBM Research since the 1950s for over forty years before retiring. He collaborated with Ken Iverson from 1960 to 1980 on the design, development, and usage of the APL programming language and its interactive environment...
) (APL Press) (1981) - Tangible Math (Iverson Software Inc.) (1990)
- A Personal View of APL, IBM System Journal, vol. 30, no. 4, 1991, pp. 582–593.
- The ISI Dictionary of J (Iverson Software Inc.) (1991)
Awards
- IBM FellowIBM FellowAn IBM Fellow is an appointed position at IBM made by IBM’s CEO. Typically only 4 to 9 IBM Fellows are appointed each year, at the annual Corporate Technical Recognition Event in May or June. It is the highest honor a scientist, engineer, or programmer at IBM can achieve.The IBM Fellows program...
(IBMIBMInternational Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...
) (1970) - Harry H. Goode Memorial Award (IEEE Computer SocietyIEEE Computer SocietyThe IEEE Computer Society is a professional society of IEEE. Its purpose and scope is “to advance the theory, practice, and application of computer and information processing science and technology” and the “professional standing of its members.” The CS is the largest of 38 technical societies...
) (1975) - Turing AwardTuring AwardThe Turing Award, in full The ACM A.M. Turing Award, is an annual award given by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the...
(Association for Computing MachineryAssociation for Computing MachineryThe Association for Computing Machinery is a learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947 as the world's first scientific and educational computing society. Its membership is more than 92,000 as of 2009...
) (1979) - Computer Pioneer Award [Charter recipient] (IEEE Computer SocietyIEEE Computer SocietyThe IEEE Computer Society is a professional society of IEEE. Its purpose and scope is “to advance the theory, practice, and application of computer and information processing science and technology” and the “professional standing of its members.” The CS is the largest of 38 technical societies...
) (1982) - Honorary doctorate, York University, Toronto, 1998
See also
- APL (programming language)
- J (programming language)J (programming language)The J programming language, developed in the early 1990s by Kenneth E. Iverson and Roger Hui, is a synthesis of APL and the FP and FL function-level languages created by John Backus....
- Iverson AwardIverson AwardThe Iverson Award, more formally the Kenneth E. Iverson Award for Outstanding Contribution to APL, is presented by the Special Interest Group on APL of the Association for Computing Machinery . It is presented to a person who has made significant contributions to the APL programming language or to...
- Iverson bracket
External article links
- A Formal Description of SYSTEM/360 by Adin D. FalkoffAdin FalkoffAdin D. Falkoff Born in New Jersey, a researcher and manager at IBM Research since the 1950s for over forty years before retiring. He collaborated with Ken Iverson from 1960 to 1980 on the design, development, and usage of the APL programming language and its interactive environment...
, Kenneth E. Iverson, and Edward H. Sussenguth, Jr., IBM Systems Journal, Volume 3, Number 3, 1964. (dead link behind paywall; http://web.archive.org/web/20060813132807/http://www.research.ibm.com/journal/sj/032/falkoff.pdfWayback Machine backup link) - The Design of APL by Adin D. FalkoffAdin FalkoffAdin D. Falkoff Born in New Jersey, a researcher and manager at IBM Research since the 1950s for over forty years before retiring. He collaborated with Ken Iverson from 1960 to 1980 on the design, development, and usage of the APL programming language and its interactive environment...
and Kenneth E. Iverson, IBM Journal of Research and Development, Volume 17, Number 4, 1973. (dead link behind paywall; Wayback Machine backup link) - The Evolution of APL, by Adin D. Falkoff and Kenneth E. Iverson. ACM SIGPLAN Notices 13, 1978-08.
- Notation as a Tool of Thought (1979 Turing Award Lecture) by Kenneth E. Iverson, Communications of the ACM, Volume 23, Number 8, August 1980.
- A Personal View of APL by Kenneth E. Iverson, IBM Systems Journal, Volume 30, Number 4, 1991. (dead link behind paywall; Wayback Machine backup link)
External links
- Essays/Kenneth_E._Iverson - from Jsoftware website
- Kenneth E. Iverson: This page at the Digital Bibliography and Library Project lists Kenneth Iverson's publications.
- Short Biography at the science.ca website
- Obituary in The TimesThe TimesThe Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...
- Obituary at the Association for Computing MachineryAssociation for Computing MachineryThe Association for Computing Machinery is a learned society for computing. It was founded in 1947 as the world's first scientific and educational computing society. Its membership is more than 92,000 as of 2009...
- Ehud Lamm's obituary at Lambda the Ultimate
- Remembering Kenneth E. Iverson Memorial issue of Vector, the Journal of the British APL Association
- A Celebration of the life of Kenneth Eugene Iverson
- Memorial Service for Kenneth E. Iverson in Toronto (MySpace video)
- Ken Iverson on the WikiWikiWebWikiWikiWebWikiWikiWeb is a term that has been used to refer to four things: the first wiki, or user-editable website, launched on 25 March 1995 by Ward Cunningham as part of the Portland Pattern Repository ; the Perl-based application that was used to run it, also developed by Cunningham, which was the first...