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Turing Award Goes To Distributed Computing Wrangler Leslie Lamport 40

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-the-alan-goes-to dept.
alphadogg writes "Leslie Lamport, a Microsoft Research principal, has been named the winner of the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award, frequently called the 'Nobel Prize in Computing.' The computer scientist was recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery for 'imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages.' His algorithms, models and verification systems have enabled distributed computer systems to play the key roles they're used in throughout the data center, security and cloud computing landscapes."
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Turing Award Goes To Distributed Computing Wrangler Leslie Lamport

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @02:30AM (#46522327)

    Microsoft guy wins turing award. Nerds snicker and claim bribery.

    Nerds referred to LaTex, which he wrote. Heads asplode.

    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @10:37AM (#46524093) Homepage Journal

      Microsoft guy wins turing award. Nerds snicker and claim bribery.

      Nerds referred to LaTex, which he wrote. Heads asplode.

      He also wrote numerous papers that provide the foundations for much of the sophisticated distributed computing infrastructure we have today. For example, he created the Paxos algorithm, which describes an effective and fairly efficient approach for achieving a consensus view of shared state among a network of distributed processes. The concepts from Paxos -- and AFAIK the actual algorithm family -- is the technology underlying all of the massively-scalable distributed databases. It provides the mechanism for achieving eventual consistency while not stopping the world to synchronize.

      In particular, huge chunks of fundamental system architecture at Google are based on Paxos. Not all NoSQL data stores take this approach, but all that don't have some fundamental limitations on scalability because without a distributed consensus protocol they have to introduce bottlenecks.

      Of course, I think most of his really influential work was done before he went to Microsoft.

  • Well-merited (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vikingpower (768921) <exercitussolusNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @02:41AM (#46522349) Homepage Journal
    Lamport wrote the paper "Time, Clocks and the Ordering of Events in Distributed Systems", one of the papers that stayed with me and influenced me most, during a career of slightly over 19 years now. For that paper alone he merits an award.
  • Plus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @02:58AM (#46522407)

    He wrote a good typesetting system, to bad he could not convince Microsoft to use it.

    • Re: Plus (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Woah, there. He wrote a good layer over a good typesetting system. Awesome as LaTeX is, please don't gloss over the separate awesemess of TeX.

    • Correction: He only wrote a set of macros on top of a typesetting system designed by Don Knuth [wikipedia.org].
    • I'm not sure why you care if *Microsoft* uses (La)Tex. This is a choice for the *customers*, and given that (La)Tex has always been easily and freely available for everyone I'm not sure what mindset you have to blame Microsoft. Because you don't dare insult *everyone* at once (the overwhelming customer majority), because then everyone reading your comment would have seen the lack of thinking that went into it? So you instead gained some "Insightful" votes from equally zealous MS haters, congrats, well done

    • by gtall (79522)

      You mean Knuth wrote a good typesetting system and Lamport make it easier to use for many of the common things it was being used for, i.e., writing technical papers.

  • by epine (68316) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @04:45AM (#46522649)

    The man deserves it. He rocks. I've loved the precision of his engagement with fundamental assumptions since my first encounter with the Baker's algorithm.

    My Writings [microsoft.com] is a good time killer. One of my favorite passages is this one:

    Writing the proofs turned out to be much more difficult than I had expected. I worked very hard to make them as short and easy to understand as I could. So, I was rather annoyed when a referee said that the proofs seemed to have been written quickly and could be simplified with a little effort. In my replies to the reviews, I referred to that referee as a "supercilious bastard". Some time later, Nancy Lynch confessed to being that referee. She had by then written her own proofs of clock synchronization and realized how hard they were.

    They did a fair amount of work together, judging by all the other places her name appears.

    • by godrik (1287354)

      The only thing that surprised me is that he did not already have won that award.

    • by sadboyzz (1190877)
      That's a good one, probably explains why Lamport only just got the award now and not much sooner :)
  • "A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable."

  • my request counter is 0!

  • My first encounter with Leslie's work was Lamport's Bakery. It's a serialization primitive with some surprising properties. For example, it doesn't require properly arbitrated access to memory as the initial value read from memory on entrance to the "bakery" actually doesn't matter!

    Dr. Lamport was actually kind enough to reply to an email of mine regarding said primitive. I was optimizing a version of it for a multiprocessor device we were making where I work, and I had come upon what I thought was a cle

    • by Mr Z (6791)

      Ok, the statement I made in my third sentence above is imprecise to the point of being inaccurate. The exact property, as described by Wikipedia:

      The original proof shows that for overlapping reads and writes to the same storage cell only the write must be correct. The read operation can return an arbitrary number. Therefore this algorithm can be used to implement mutual exclusion on memory that lacks synchronisation primitives

      So the part about not needing "properly arbitrated memory access" is mostly tru

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