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In Memoriam: Computing Pioneer Frances Allen

8/7/2020 10:24:00 AM

Frances Allen; Credit: IBM
Frances Allen; Credit: IBM

With sadness, we note the passing of computing pioneer Frances “Fran” Allen on August 4, 2020, her 88th birthday. Allen, who was the first woman to win the A.M. Turing Award (2006) and to be recognized as an IBM Fellow (1989), made seminal contributions to compiler organization and optimization algorithms during her career at IBM Research. She established the theoretical framework and methodology for compiler research that has been followed by thousands of researchers and developers during the past 50 years.

For more about Frances Allen’s tremendous contributions to computer science, please read IBM Research’s tribute.

A valued colleague who collaborated with several Illinois CS faculty, Allen was also known as an inspiring mentor. Illinois CS emeritus professor David J. Kuck remembers her fondly:

Fran was a great personal friend of mine, and she will be missed by the whole CS community for her technical insights and open, supportive attitude. We worked together on compiler issues, she helped me at the start of OpenMP, and she was a great collaborator with the UIUC CS department from the mid-1980s on.  Her team at IBM Yorktown Heights Research was the envy of every company’s compiler group, and over the years, she “graduated” a number of leading software faculty members at top universities.

In 2004, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recognized Allen with an honorary doctorate degree, following a nomination by the Department of Computer Science.