Iverson Receives Harry Goode Award

Congratulations to Dr. Kenneth E. Iverson for receiving the 1975 Harry Goode Memorial Award “in recognition of the generalized notation, APL, which he conceived and developed; of the effectiveness in communications which has resulted from the use of APL in many diverse applications; and of the expected impact that APL will have on programming language theory and practice in the future.”

In presenting the award, the American Federation of Information Processing Societies characterized Dr. Iverson in the following way.

“Educator, scientist, mathematician, and author or coauthor of over 30 published books and articles, Dr. Kenneth Iverson has demonstrated throughout his career a level of performance worthy of the highest respect and admiration. The computing profession is truly indebted to Dr. Iverson.

For more than twenty years, Dr. Iverson has played a key role in the furtherance of computer science and, in particular, was responsible for devising APL — a major data processing language which has led to new directions in programming. In addition, Dr. Iverson has contributed to the development of more effective and convenient systems for interactive computing and has been instrumental in developing a unifying conception of the role of executable languages.

The seed of APL goes back to 1957 when Dr. Kenneth Iverson was an Assistant Professor at Harvard University, lecturing in mathematics and computer science. At this time, he contributed a paper on “Description of Finite Sequential Processes” as part of a study of switching theory undertaken by Harvard for the Bell Laboratories. This paper included notational conventions combining contributions from set theory, algebra, and logic in a precursor of the form subsequently developed as APL.

Dr. Iverson received a great deal of support and encouragement in his efforts from Professor Howard H. Aiken, Director Emeritus of the Harvard Computational Laboratory, who was the receipient of the first Harry Goode Award in 1964. By 1962 the notation had aroused considerable interest and he published his book entitled “A Programming Language”. From this, the acronym APL developed.

By 1960, Dr. Iverson joined the Computer Science Department of the Thomas J. Watson Research Center of IBM in Yorktown Heights, New York, where he continued to explore applications of the notation and began the development of APL as a formal programming language and a computing system. The first time-shared implementation — APL\360 — was released for public use in 1967.

In 1970, Dr. Iverson was named IBM Fellow. His work at this time centered in several disciplines, including collaborative projects in circuit theory, genetics, geology, and calculus. Further efforts included the preparation of an algebra text and collaboration on developments of APL systems leading to broad use for large-scale data base and commercial applications.

Currently, Dr. Iverson serves as an IBM Fellow and Manager of the APL Design Group in Philadelphia where he is working on extensions of APL to general arrays and other language developments.

Dr. Iverson received his B.A. degree in Mathematics from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada in 1950; his M.A. degree in Mathematics from Harvard in 1951; and in 1954 he received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard. He presently resides in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania and is a member of the Canadian Mathematical Congress.”

Dr. Iverson expressed a particular sense of honor in receiving the Harry Goode Memorial Award because the man who originally introduced Dr. Iverson to computing, Professor Aiken of Harvard, was the first individual to ever received this award.

Dr. Iverson also commented that it was unfortunate the award could only be presented to a single individual because there were others who have contributed greatly to the development of APL.

Our warmest congratulations on receiving an award richly deserved.

Appeared in the APL Quote-Quad, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1975.

created:  2009-07-18 12:10
updated:2013-07-23 22:00