The often untold story behind a mastermind of Computer Science: Dijkstra, whose name has been an important
algorithm widely used in GPS navigation.
The blog described a wise, hard-thinker, a great mind who made unparallel contributions to both Computer
Science as a mathematical and logical view, as well as Software Engineering which focuses on building
software and hardware components.
He’s most famous for his private reports, named “EWD”, and continued for more than forty years,
describing his views on Computer Science and Software Engineering in general, and sometimes worked
as reviews for others’ work. One of the most influencing “EWD” report was “Notes on Structured Programming,”
which argued programming as a serious form of skill that demands intellectual rigor.
In 1972, Dijkstra received the ACM Turing Award, he was recognized for:
contributions to programming as a high, intellectual challenge; for eloquent insistence and practical demonstration that programs should be composed correctly, not just debugged into correctness; for illuminating perception of problems at the foundations of program design.
He has great passion for his art, and his strong personality sometimes sparked controversies.
One of the most famous was the discussion on critiquing “GOTO” statements as harmful. It
brought widespread, heated debate, yet Dijkstra’s view finally prevailed, and his insistence
made a monumental change to programming paradigm.
There are much more interesting details around his personal and academic life in the original post,
too long to be summarized here. For example, his had a mini-van in Austin, which he often drove to
national parks with his wife, and it was named the “Touring Machine.” If you are passionate with computers and software,
have a long weekend afternoon, it’s worth a good read.