


















1968 Go To Statement Considered Harmful


1968 The Structure of "THE"Multiprogramming
System(3)(4) 







ALGOL60 









ALGOL 

Achievement
In 1968 Edsger Dijkstra(7) laid
the foundation stone in the march towards creating structure in
the domain of programming by writing, not a scholarly paper on
the subject, but instead a letter to the editor entitled "GO
TO Statement Considered Harmful". (Comm. ACM, August
1968) The movement to develop reliable software was underway.
Dijkstra in one of his papers:
My area of interest focuses on the streamlining
of the mathematical argument so as to increase our powers of
reasoning, in particular, by the use of formal techniques
Biography
Edsger Wybe Dijkstra was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1930.
Both of his parents were intellectual people and had received good
educations. His father was a chemist, and his mother was a mathematician.
In 1942, when Dijkstra was 12 years old he entered the Gymnasium
Erasminium, a high school for extremely bright students, and he
was educated in a number of different subjects including: Greek,
Latin, French, German, English, biology, mathematics, and chemistry.
In 1945, Dijkstra thought that he might study law and possibly
serve as a representative for the Netherlands at the United Nations.
However, due to the fact that he had scored so well in chemistry,
mathematics, and physics, he entered the University of Leiden,
where he decided to study theoretical physics. He went to summer
school on the subject of programming at Cambridge University, during
the summer of 1951. He began parttime work at the Mathematical
Centre in Amsterdam in March 1952, which further helped fuel his
growing interest in programming. He finished the requirements for
his theoretical physics degree as quickly as possible and began
to pursue his interests in progamming. One of the problems that
he ran into, however was that programming still was not officially
recognized as a profession. In fact, when he applied for a marriage
license in 1957, he had to put down "theoretical physicist" as
his profession.
Dijkstra continued to work at the Mathematical Centre until he
accepted a job as a research fellow for Burroughs Corporation,
in the United States, in the early 1970s. He was awarded the ACM
Turing Award in 1972. He was given the AFIPS Harry Goode Memorial
Award in 1974. Dijkstra moved to Austin, Texas in the early 1980s.
In 1984 he was appointed to a chair in Computer Science at the
University of Texas, Austin, where he has been ever since.
Contributions
to Computer Science:
In 1956, Dijkstra came up with the "shortestpath algorithm",
after he had been assigned the task of showing the powers of ARMAC,
the computer that the Mathematical Centre had in it's possession;
an algorithm which aids in finding the best way to travel between
two points. He also used this to solve the problem of finding a
way to "convey electricity to all essential circuits, while
using as little expensive copper wire as possible" that the
engineers that had designed the ARMAC ran into. He called it the "shortest
subspanning tree algorithm." In the early 1960s, Dijkstra
applied the idea of mutual exclusion to communications between
a computer and its keyboard. He used the letters P and V to represent
the two operations that go on in the mutual exclusion problem.
This idea has become a part of pretty much all, modern processors
and memory board since 1964, when IBM first used it in its 360
architecture. The next problem that computer engineers must deal
with that Dijkstra recognized was the "dining philosophers
problem." In this problem, five philosophers are sitting at
a table with a bowl of rice and a chopstick on either side of the
bowl. The problem that arises is how the philosophers will be able
to eat without coming to a "deadlock", ending up in a "starvation" situation,
or a situation with
"lack of fairness."
He helped make the computer software
industry a lot more disciplined by using one phrase: "GO TO
considered harmful". This means that the more GO TO statements
there are in a program the harder it is to follow the program's
source code
Chronology
1942 
Gymnasium Erasminium 
1945 
Entered the University of Leiden, Netherlands to study theoretical
physics. 
1951 
Summer school (Camebridge University) on the subject programmingelectronic
computing devices, given by M.V. Wilkes 

Masters in Mathematics and Physics, Leiden, NL 
1952 
Begins parttime work at the Mathematical Centre in Amsterdam
in March 
1956 
PhD Theoretical Physics, Leiden, NL 

Dijkstra comes with the "shortestpath
algorithm" 
1957 
Married 
1959 
PhD University of Amsterdam 
1960's 
Dijkstra let the world know: "GO TO considered harmful". 
1962 
Appointed to the chair of mathematics at Eindhoven
University (substitute for computer sciences) 
1973 
Accepts a job as a research fellow for Burroughs
Corporation, in the United States 
1984 
Appointed to the Schlumberger Centennial Chair
in Computer Science at the University of Texas, Austin 
1999 
Professor Emiritus 
2000 
Retirement 
2002 
April back to the Netherlands 

August 8, died of cancer 


Honors and awards
 member of the Bataafse Genootschap "De proefondervinderlijke
Wijsbegeerte" (emperical philosophy) Rotterdam, 1964
 Member, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences 1971
 Distinguished Fellow, British Computer Society 1971
 ACM Turing Award, 1972
 AFIPS Harry Goode Memorial Award in 1974.
 Foreign Honorary Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences,
1975
 Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, The Queen's University of
Belfast, 1976
 Computer Pioneer Award, IEEE Computer Society, 1982
 ACM Fellow 1994
 Doctor of Science Honoris Causa, University of Athens, Geogia
USA Department of Mathematics, 2002
 PODC Influential paper Award ACM conferences on Pirnciples
of distributed Computing, 2002
Bibliography
1977 Models
of Bounded Rationality
