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Vol.26 No.4


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British APL Association
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Volume 22, No.3

Kenneth E. Iverson

from the Toronto Globe and Mail 22 October 2004

Noted Computer Scientist

Kenneth E. Iverson, a pioneer in the field of computer science, died on Tuesday, October 19th in Toronto, Canada. He was 83. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Jean (née Nicholson); three sons, Eric (Suzann), Paul and Keith (Marcella); daughter Janet Cramer (Kevin); foster-daughters Robin Dick and Sherry Matusky; and five grandchildren.

Born on a small farm in Camrose, Alberta in 1920, he served in the Canadian military during World War II. Dr. Iverson earned a B.A. in Mathematics and Physics from Queen’s University and M.A. in Mathematics and Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University. While on the faculty of Harvard, Dr. Iverson helped establish the first graduate course in computer science and also developed a concise mathematical notation that formed the foundation for APL (A Programming Language) He then joined IBM in 1960.

While at IBM, Dr. Iverson made an historic contribution to computer science by developing APL into an interactive programming language that was used widely in academic and commercial applications. An original thinker and noted scholar, he was named an IBM Fellow in 1971. For his efforts in mathematics and computer science, Dr. Iverson received in 1979 the A.M. Turing Award given by the Association for Computing Machinery, the most prestigious award in computer science. He was awarded the Harry M. Goode Memorial Award in 1975 in recognition for his conception and development of APL and named by the IEEE Computer Society in 1981 as a Computer Pioneer Charter Recipient for his efforts in the creation and continued vitality of the computer industry. In 1998, he received from York University an honorary degree of Doctor of Science.

During his career Dr. Iverson worked in various IBM research facilities in the northeastern United States before moving to Toronto, Canada in 1980 to join I.P. Sharp Associates, a timesharing computer system provider. In recent years Dr. Iverson was involved in the development and implementation of the “J” programming language with Jsoftware Inc. Dr. Iverson’s love of language and teaching were significant factors in his lifetime work of trying to impose a grammar and discipline on the language of mathematics.

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