For first time, woman wins Turing Award

Frances Allen, an IBM computer science veteran, to be honored by ACM for her work on program optimization and Ptran.

The prestigious A.M. Turing Award, for the first time, is going to a woman.

Frances Allen, who was a computer scientist at IBM, is set to receive the 2006 Turing Award in June for program optimization work that led to modern methods for high-speed computing, the Association for Computing Machinery announced Wednesday.

Allen is noted for her development of Ptran (Parallel Translation), a specific method for running a program over multiple processors to improve speed and efficiency.

Frances Allen Frances Allen

Along with the honor, Allen will receive $100,000, ACM said.

Allen received an undergraduate degree in education from the Albany State Teachers College--now State University of New York at Albany--and a master's degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan.

She joined IBM in 1957 to teach the Fortran (Formula Translation) programming language. From there, she went on to develop program optimization, language-independent optimizers and Ptran.

Her work provided the foundation for the high-speed computing systems used today for forecasting weather, matching DNA and analyzing national security.

In 1989, Allen was made the first female IBM Fellow. She is now an IBM Fellow Emeritus, recognized for her work in mentoring women and men in technology.

About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet,, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.


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