Leslie Lamport Recognized With 2013 A.M. Turing Award

By David Bruggeman
March 19, 2014

Leslie Lamport, a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, has been named as the recipient of the 2013 ACM A.M. Turing Award.  The recognition is for his work in distributed computing systems, as described in the award citation:

“For fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of distributed and concurrent systems, notably the invention of concepts such as causality and logical clocks, safety and liveness, replicated state machines, and sequential consistency.”

Additionally, Lamport is being recognized 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. He devised important algorithms and developed formal modeling and verification protocols that improve the quality of real distributed systems. These contributions have resulted in improved correctness, performance, and reliability of computer systems.”

Lamport’s practical and widely used algorithms and tools have applications in security, cloud computing, embedded systems and database systems as well as mission-critical computer systems that rely on secure information sharing and interoperability to prevent failure. His notions of safety, where nothing bad happens, and liveness, where something good happens, contribute to the reliability and robustness of software and hardware engineering design. His solutions for Byzantine Fault Tolerance contribute to failure prevention in a system component that behaves erroneously when interacting with other components. His creation of temporal logic language (TLA+) helps to write precise, sound specifications. He also developed LaTeX, a document preparation system that is the de facto standard for technical publishing in computer science and other fields.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Lamport worked at SRI International and Digital Equipment Corporation (later Compaq Corporation).  The Turing Award, considered the equivalent of a Nobel Prize in Computing, is ACM’s top award.  It will be presented to Lamport at the ACM Awards Banquet in June.  The award comes with a $250,000 award, thanks to the support of Intel Corporation and Google Inc.  You can learn more about Dr. Lamport and his work at the A.M. Turing website.

Congratulations to Dr. Lamport.