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Encyclopedia > John Backus
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John Backus (born December 3, 1924) is an American computer scientist, notable as the inventor of the first high-level programming language (FORTRAN), the Backus-Naur form (BNF, the almost universally used notation to define formal language syntax), and the concept of Function-level programming. He received the 1977 ACM Turing Award for these seminal achievements. Backus' Turing citation read as follows: December 3 is the 337th (in leap years the 338th) day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Jump to: navigation, search 1924 was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Computer science (informally: CS or compsci) is, in its most general sense, the study of computation and information processing, both in hardware and in software. ... A high-level programming language is a programming language that is more user-friendly, to some extent platform-independent, and abstract from low-level computer processor operations such as memory accesses. ... Jump to: navigation, search A programming language or computer language is a standardized communication technique for expressing instructions to a computer. ... Fortran (also FORTRAN) is a statically typed, compiled, programming language originally developed in the 1950s and still heavily used for scientific computing and numerical computation half a century later. ... The Backus-Naur form (BNF) (also known as Backus normal form) is a metasyntax used to express context-free grammars: that is, a formal way to describe formal languages. ... In mathematics, logic and computer science, a formal language is a set of finite-length words (i. ... Jump to: navigation, search Syntax, originating from the Greek words συν (sun, meaning ‘together’) and ταξις (taxis, meaning sequence/order), can be described as the study of the rules, or patterned relations that govern the way the words in a sentence come together. ... Function-level programming refers to one of the two contrasting programming paradigms identified by John Backus in his work on Programs as mathematical objects, the other being Value-level programming. ... The A.M. Turing Award is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery to a person selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. ...

For profound, influential, and lasting contributions to the design of practical high-level programming systems, notably through his work on FORTRAN, and for seminal publication of formal procedures for the specification of programming languages.

Backus was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. He studied at the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, and was apparently not a diligent student. After entering the University of Virginia to study chemistry, and failing that, he then joined the US Army and began medical training, which he also dropped out of after nine months. Jump to: navigation, search Independence Hall, as it appears today. ... Jump to: navigation, search Motto: A Place To Be Somebody Founded Incorporated 1638 1832  County New Castle County Mayor James M. Baker (Dem) Area  - Total  - Water 44. ... Pottstown is a borough in Montgomery County in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. ... Jump to: navigation, search Website Virginia. ...


After moving to New York City he initially took training as a radio technician and discovered an interest in mathematics. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in the subject in 1949, and joined IBM in 1950. During his first three years, he worked on the SSEC; his first major project was to write a program to calculate positions of the Moon. New York City, officially named the City of New York, is the most populous city in the United States, the most densely populated major city in North America, and is at the center of international finance, politics, entertainment, and culture. ... Wikibooks Wikiversity has more about this subject: School of Mathematics Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Mathematics Look up Mathematics on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Wikimedia Commons has more media related to: Mathematics Bogomolny, Alexander: Interactive Mathematics Miscellany and Puzzles. ... Jump to: navigation, search Columbia University is a private university in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. ... Jump to: navigation, search International Business Machines Corporation (IBM, or colloquially, Big Blue) NYSE: IBM (incorporated June 15, 1911, in operation since 1888) is headquartered in Armonk, NY, USA. The company manufactures and sells computer hardware, software, and services. ... SSEC (for Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator, and also called Poppa) was an electomechanical computer built by IBM, finished in January 1948. ...


The difficulties of programming were acute, and in 1954 Backus assembled a team to define and develop Fortran for the IBM 704 computer. Whilst arguably not the first high-level programming language, it was the first to achieve wide use. During the latter part of the 1950's Backus served on the international committees which developed ALGOL 58 and the very influential ALGOL 60, which quickly became the de facto worldwide standard for publishing algorithms. The IBM 704, the first mass-produced computer with floating point arithmetic hardware, was introduced by IBM in April, 1956. ... ALGOL (short for ALGOrithmic Language) is a family of imperative computer programming languages originally developed in the mid 1950s which became the de facto standard way to report algorithms in print for almost the next 30 years. ... ALGOL (short for ALGOrithmic Language) is a programming language originally developed in the mid 1950s which became the de facto standard way to report algorithms in print for almost the next 30 years. ...


He later worked on a "function-level" programming language known as FP which was described in his Turing Award lecture "Can Programming be Liberated from the von Neumann Style?" Sometimes viewed as Backus's apology for creating Fortran, this paper did less to garner interest in his own FP than to spark research into functional programming in general. FP was strongly inspired by Kenneth E. Iverson's APL, even using a non-standard character set. Backus spent the latter part of his career developing FL (from "Function Level"), a successor to FP. FL was an internal IBM research project and development of the language essentially stopped when the project was finished (only a few papers documenting it remain), but many of the language's innovative, arguably important ideas have now been implemented in Iverson's J programming language. Function-level programming refers to one of the two contrasting programming paradigms identified by John Backus in his work on Programs as mathematical objects, the other being Value-level programming. ... FP (short for Function Programming) is a programming language created by John Backus to support the Function-level programming paradigm. ... The term von Neumann language refers to those programming languages that are high-level abstract isomorphisms of von Neumann architectures. ... Kenneth Eugene Iverson (17 December 1920, Camrose, Alberta/Canada –October 19, 2004,Toronto, Ontario/Canada) was a computer scientist most notable for developing the APL programming language. ... APL (for A Programming Language, or sometimes Array Processing Language) is an array programming language based on a notation invented in 1957 by Kenneth E. Iverson while at Harvard University. ... FL (short for Function Level) is a programming language created at the IBM Almaden Research Center by John Backus, John Williams, and Edward Wimmers in 1989. ... The J programming language, developed in the early 90s by Ken Iverson and Roger Hui, is a synthesis of APL (also by Iverson) and the FP and FL functional programming languages created by John Backus (of FORTRAN, ALGOL, and BNF fame). ...


Backus was named an IBM Fellow in 1987, and was awarded a Draper Prize in 1993. He retired in 1991. An IBM Fellow is an appointed position at IBM made by IBM’s CEO. Typically only 4 or 5 IBM Fellows are appointed each year, at the annual Corporate Technical Recognition Event (CTRE) event in June. ...


External links

  • Backus' biographies: [1], [2]
  • 1977 Turing Award Lecture: Can Programming Be Liberated From the von Neumann Style?
  • The FL project

  Results from FactBites:
 
Encyclopedia4U - John Backus - Encyclopedia Article (344 words)
John Backus (born December 3, 1924) is an American computer scientist, notable as the inventor of the Fortran programming language, the first high-level language to achieve widespread use, and the Backus-Naur form almost universally used to define language syntax.
Backus was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but grew up in Wilmington, Delaware.
The difficulties of programming were acute, and in 1954 Backus assembled a team to define and develop Fortran for the IBM 704 computer.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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