Frances Allen was announced as the winner of the 2007 Alan M. Turing Award yesterday, making her the first woman to receive what is often called the “Nobel Prize of computing.”
The award, given annually since 1966 by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), honors “contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high performance computing.”
Allen was recognized for her fundamental contributions to program optimization and parallel computing, among other things. She is presently an IBM Fellow Emerita at the T.J. Watson Research Center.
According to her bio on IBM’s website, she joined IBM Research in 1957 to teach FORTRAN to other researchers—it was a second job for the math teacher looking to pay off college debt. She has been with IBM since, while acting as visiting professor to many universities and working on projects for the National Security Agency. She is now studying compilers and high-performance computer systems.
ACM will present the Turing Award with its $100,000 prize to Allen at its annual awards banquet on June 9.