History of Scientific Women

Main achievements: High-performance computing, parallel computing, compiler organization, optimization.

Frances Elizabeth "Fran" Allen is an American computer scientist and pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers. Her achievements include seminal work in compilers, code optimization, and parallelization. She also had a role in intelligence work on programming languages and security codes for the National Security Agency. Allen was the first female IBM Fellow and in 2006 became the first woman to win the Turing Award.

Allen grew up on a farm in Peru, New York and graduated from The New York State College for Teachers (now State University of New York at Albany, SUNY) with a B.Sc. degree in mathematics in 1954. She earned an M.Sc. degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1957 and began teaching school in Peru, New York. Deeply in debt, she joined the Thomas J. Watson Research Center at IBM on July 15, 1957, where she taught incoming employees the basics of FORTRAN. She planned to stay only until her school loans were paid, which were ordered[clarification needed] for the Los Alamos National Lab. However, she ended up staying for her entire 45-year career.

To quote her A.M. Turing Award citation: "Fran Allen's work has had an enormous impact on compiler research and practice. Both alone and in joint work with John Cocke, she introduced many of the abstractions, algorithms, and implementations that laid the groundwork for automatic program optimization technology. Allen's 1966 paper, "Program Optimization," laid the conceptual basis for systematic analysis and transformation of computer programs. This paper introduced the use of graph-theoretic structures to encode program content in order to automatically and efficiently derive relationships and identify opportunities for optimization. Her 1970 papers, "Control Flow Analysis" and "A Basis for Program Optimization" established "intervals" as the context for efficient and effective data flow analysis and optimization. Her 1971 paper with Cocke, "A Catalog of Optimizing Transformations," provided the first description and systematization of optimizing transformations. Her 1973 and 1974 papers on interprocedural data flow analysis extended the analysis to whole programs. Her 1976 paper with Cocke describes one of the two main analysis strategies used in optimizing compilers today. Allen developed and implemented her methods as part of compilers for the IBM STRETCH-HARVEST and the experimental Advanced Computing System. This work established the feasibility and structure of modern machine- and language-independent optimizers. She went on to establish and lead the PTRAN project on the automatic parallel execution of FORTRAN programs. Her PTRAN team developed new parallelism detection schemes and created the concept of the program dependence graph, the primary structuring method used by most parallelizing compilers."

Allen was a professor at New York University from 1970–73. Allen became the first female IBM Fellow in 1989. In 2007, the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award was created in her honor.

Allen is a Fellow of the IEEE and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). In 2000, she was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum "for her contributions to program optimization and compiling for parallel computers." She is currently on the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, the Computer Research Associates (CRA) board and National Science Foundation's CISE Advisory Board. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Philosophical Society.[citation needed] She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994. She received the IEEE Computer Society Charles Babbage Award in 1997.

In 1997, Allen was inducted into the WITI Hall of Fame. She retired from IBM in 2002 and won the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award that year from the Association for Women in Computing.

In 2007, Allen was recognized for her work in high performance computing when she received the Turing award in 2006. She became the first woman recipient in the forty-year history of the award, which is considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for computing and is given by the Association for Computing Machinery. She was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree at the winter commencement at SUNY at Albany. In interviews following the award she hoped it would give more "opportunities for women in science, computing and engineering". In 2009 she was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from McGill university for "pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution". In her lecture presented to the ACM, Allen describes her work.

Source: Wikipedia