back to article Programming pioneer Fran Allen dies aged 88 after a career of immense contributions to compilers

Frances Allen, one of the leading computer scientists of her generation and a pioneer of women in tech, died last Tuesday, her 88th birthday. Allen is best known for her work on compiler organisation and optimisation algorithms. Together with renowned computer scientist John Cocke, she published a series of landmark papers in …

  1. Anonymous Coward

    Sad on two levels.

    Very sad to hear about the passing of someone so intelligent and pivotal to what we all do today. Also sad to read that this sort of thing was supported by IBM, who then were a real innovative company changing the world, rather than the listless horde of second rate 'consultants' they are today.

    RIP Fran Allen.

    1. UCAP Silver badge

      Re: Sad on two levels.

      You are totally right on both accounts.

      It shows just how long computers have been with us when we start to see all of the people who basically laid the foundations for what we now do pass away one by one. Each and every one of them contributed hugely to the field - if we can see further now, its because we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

      Your comment about IBM is also true - they made truly massive contributions in the early days of computing. Unfortunately a generation of bean counters took control in the 1980s and 1990s, and all of the innovation left the company. It is now a sad shell of its former glory.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Sad on two levels.

      Also sad in that the IBM of today would have chucked her out 20 or 30 years before the age she actually retired at and replaced her with a recent graduate.

      RIP Fran Allen and the IBM of old.

  2. tip pc Silver badge

    Alzheimer's disease stolen another shining light

    So sad that she wen't this way, gave so much of her brain during her life and ended in this terrible way.

    Raising a glass in solute.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alzheimer's disease stolen another shining light

      My dad died of Alzheimer's and for those who work with their brains it's even worse than most people imagine because you have semi-lucid days when you know what is happening to you.

      I'll join you in raising my glass of hops solute in salute.

      1. MOV r0,r0

        Re: Alzheimer's disease stolen another shining light

        Yep - never make assumptions and never presume to know what is going on in the mind of someone with Alzheimer's.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Alzheimer's disease stolen another shining light

        Amen to that. I'm losing an older cousin in the same way. It's even worse in present circumstances because with our renewed lock-down his wife can't even go and visit him.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

  3. disgruntled yank

    Allen and Cocke

    In an interview collected in the book Coders at Work, Allen said that Cocke sketched out many innovative ideas on paper napkins over beers after work, and that such napkins were much sought after at IBM. No doubt the Register commentariat will think well of such a working environment.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Allen and Cocke

          You could just keep your thoughts to your self, we don’t need to know every warped thing that goes through your mind.

          Learn to filter.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    The paper (A catalogue of optimizing transformations) that was sited in the article was required reading in my compilers class.

    As said above, it is extremely sad when a mental giant suffers this despicable disease.

  5. Danny 2 Silver badge

    a high-level code-breaking language capable of creating alphabets beyond the system defined alphabets

    That would make a great scifi story plot, if only it wasn't factual.

    Alzheimer's, and the other forms of dementia, are always awful for the sufferer - we just observe it as worse when they were obviously intelligent. My friend Attila the Stockbroker lost his mum that way, she was a code breaker at Bletchley Park. My dad was just a teacher, but the pain is the same.

    I don't want life expectancy extended, but quality of life extended.

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