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The Power of Abstraction

Date and Time
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 - 4:30pm to Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - 5:30pm
Friend Center Convocation Room
Distinguished Colloquium Series Speaker
Michael Freedman
Abstraction is at the center of much work in Computer Science. It encompasses finding the right interface for a system as well as finding an effective design for a system implementation. Furthermore, abstraction is the basis for program construction, allowing programs to be built in a modular fashion. This talk will discuss how the abstraction mechanisms we use today came to be, how they are supported in programming languages, and some possible areas for future research.

Barbara Liskov is an Institute Professor at MIT and head of the Programming Methodology Group. Liskov's research interests lie in programming methodology, programming languages and systems, and distributed computing. Major projects include: the design and implementation of CLU, the first language to support data abstraction; the design and implementation of Argus, the first high-level language to support implementation of distributed programs; and the Thor object- oriented database system, which provides transactional access to persistent, highly-available objects in wide-scale distributed environments. Her current research interests include Byzantine-fault-tolerant storage systems, peer-to-peer computing, and support for automatic deployment of software upgrades in large-scale distributed systems.

Liskov is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Association for Computer Machinery. She received the ACM Turing Award in 2009, the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Language Achievement Award in 2008, the IEEE Von Neumann medal in 2004, a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Women Engineers in 1996, and in 2003 was named one of the 50 most important women in science by Discover Magazine.

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