The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) today announced that it will present the 2006 A.M. Turing Award to Frances E. Allen, an IBM Fellow Emerita. Allen is the first woman to be so honored in the 40-year history of the prize for contributions to the advancement of computer science. In its announcement, the ACM cited Allen's 'fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of program optimization, which translates the users' problem-solving language statements into more efficient sequences of computer instructions'.

Allen, who retired from IBM in 2002, is known as a software pioneer in the areas of compilers, code optimization, and parallelization. 'Her contributions also greatly extended earlier work in automatic program parallelization, which enables programs to use multiple processors simultaneously in order to obtain faster results,' the announcement continued. 'They have contributed to advances in the use of high-performance computers for solving problems such as weather forecasting, DNA matching, and national security functions.'

"Fran Allen's work has led to remarkable advances in compiler design and machine architecture that are at the foundation of modern high-performance computing," said Ruzena Bajcsy, Chair of ACM's Turing Award Committee, and professor of Electrical and Engineering and Computer Science at the University of California, Berkeley. "Her contributions have spanned most of the history of computer science, and have made possible computing techniques that we rely on today in business and technology."

"Over the years, this foundation has enabled the advance of programming productivity based on the co-evolution of higher level programming language and optimization technologies," said Intel Corp.'s Vice President of Research Andrew A. Chien. "It is particularly timely that this award comes as parallel computing is becoming an element of the most pervasive of computing platforms—laptop and desktop personal computers—and the opportunities for new and important contributions to parallel programming and efficient implementation abound."

Allen told the Associated Press that it was "high time for a woman" to win the Turing Award. She then, though, quickly added: "That's not why I got it."

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