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40th Turing award given, 1st time given to female

The Turing prize is arguably the most prestigious award in all of computing. It's given to high caliber computer science over-achievers, not business leading public stars. Francis E. Allen can now count herself as the first woman among the thirty nine man alumnus of the $100,000 prize.

CNN gives you the glossy details, but we're geeks at Download Squad, and we'll give you the hard facts. You know that dual core box you're so proud of? You've got Francis Allen to thank for early work done around parallelizing computing tasks to take advantage of the horsepower available in a second chip. In a very directly traceable way, she laid the foundations for the bleeding edge of today. Allen is also a pioneer of the optimizing compilers, a technique we rely on heavily today. Optimizing compilers (The popular GCC would be an example) streamline the executable code produced by the compiler to be as efficient as possible on a given platform.

Ironic that according to Wikipedia, Allen was a teacher and deeply in debt when she joined IBM. She never planned to stay beyond the time it took to pay off what she owed, but ended up spending 45 years with Big Blue. We're glad she did.

Tags: Frances Allen, Frances E Allen, FrancesAllen, FrancesEAllen, news, optimizing compiler, OptimizingCompiler, parallel computing, ParallelComputing, turing