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      What about Sophie Wilson who co-designed the ARM processor and wrote BBC BASIC?

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        Just added!

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        was my first thought too, but then, I grew up with a BBC B (:

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      If comparing them, so far I’m saying Barbara Liskov for the win. The work I like most is the kind that can accelerate other work. There’s lots of influence given both abstract, data types influence on language design and CLU having some influence on C++ that got widely used. Her work might have also helped build a lot of the others’ work if it got more investment or refining. The other two things on her Wikipedia were first language for distributed systems and an object-oriented database. I recall she also did something in Byzantine Fault-Tolerance but I can’t remember if it was big impact.

      She wasn’t obscure to CompSci either: they gave her a Turing Award for her contributions. She’s still publishing with new and old papers here. Definitely should be recognized by modern programmers esp since distributed systems are the thing these days with her laying a lot of groundwork when client-server on PC’s and servers was the thing. True pioneer.

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        Her work on Byzantine Fault-Tolerance is now used in some cryptocurrencies (Ripple and Stellar for example) so it’s pretty significant.

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        While we’re acknowledging fundamental abstractions, Emmy Noether should get some credit for her contributions to algebra. Algebraic invariants, well-founded induction, lots of important and subtle stuff there. It’s the kind of math that makes formal semantics of programming languages even possible.

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          Yes! I was thanks to the Noether language giving tribute that I found out about her. She was amazing.

      3. 1

        Liskov’s work is great because she created so many great mental tools that I literally use everyday.

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      I also think it should include Hedy Lamarr, who invented frequency-hopping spread-spectrum transmission.

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        That would be great for electrical engineering, but didn’t involve computers. :)

        Apparently she got into the field from her first husband who ran a munitions company. I bet she’d be an awesome person to have dinner with and talk to…another one for the historical figures dinner party list.

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          Wireless SoC’s or networking? And does frequency-hopping, spread spectrum work without computer algorithms doing signal processing?

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            It was originally implemented by Lamarr on rolls of punched taped running mux/demux stuff. So, yes. :)

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      FWIW when reading papers I have often come cross the work of Mary Shaw, and liked it very much:


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      Other suggestions: Kathleen Booth wrote the first assembly language. Glenda Schroeder wrote the first the command-line shell.

    6. 7

      Nice list - As a former compiler & optimization person, I came looking for Frances Allen and was not disappointed.

      I have a couple suggestions that I know from my old areas of study:

      • Jeanne Ferrante (UCSD): “ACM Sigplan Programming Languages Achievement Award for the development of Static Single Assignment (SSA) form (with Ron Cytron, Barry Rosen, Mark Wegman and Ken Zadeck). SSA is a program representation that yields faster, more compact and powerful program optimizations, and the award recognizes SSA as a “significant and lasting contribution to the field of programming languages”.”

      • Susan Eggers (UW): “With her colleague Hank Levy and their students, she developed the first commercially viable multithreaded architecture, Simultaneous Multithreading, adopted by Intel (as Hyperthreading), IBM, Sun and others and the winner of the 2010 ISCA ``test-of-time’’ award.”

      And a couple who are maybe less decorated, but I thought might be worth pointing out:

      • Sally McKee (bio ) Sally McKee co-wrote the 1994 article in “Computer Architecture News” titled “Hitting the Memory Wall: Implications of the Obvious” that was possibly the first time many computer architecture researchers really thought about what happens when CPUs keep getting faster than memory. In 2004 she wrote a retrospective: “Reflections on the Memory Wall” (it contains the full text of the original). She’s still working in architecture & performance.

      • kc claffy (UCSD/SDSC) (bio ) She and CAIDA had been doing global network measurement and analysis for years when I showed up at SDSC and was wowed by the kind of visualizations of the entire Net they’d hung up around the place. I don’t have enough context to know how far ahead they were, but it was definitely impressive.

    7. 5

      Missing Ingrid Daubechies, who invented wavelet compression (used for JPEG).

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        Do you mean JPEG2000? JPEG doesn’t use wavelet compression.

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          Yes, JPEG 2000. Isn’t that just the most recent revision of JPEG though?

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            It’s a new standard.


            As of 2018, there are very few digital cameras that encode photos in the JPEG 2000 format, and many applications for viewing and editing photos still do not support it.[citation needed]

            As a keen amateur photographer I can say that many photographers capture images in RAW format, which is postprocessed and output as a JPEG (or a print). Other output options are TIFF… and that’s basically it.

            Mobile phones output JPEG, or in Apple’s case HEIF in newer phone software. I’m not sure if the underlying technology in HEIF is related to JPEG 2000.

            JPEG 2000 offers a lot of potential upsides but faces the classic chicken-and-egg problem of disrupting deeply entrenched formats.

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              HEIF is a container format. Its big selling point is that it specifies how to use H.264 and H.265 encodings for image sequences: this makes it very efficient for those bursts of photos that iPhones do now. H.265 does also beat JPEG for single images but less dramatically so.

              A HEIF file can also contain audio and text synced to particular images in a sequence, which makes it nice for animations.

              HEIF itself is codec agnostic. Anything that’s compatible with the ISO Base Media File Format can go in it. So you could put JPEG or JPEG2000 images in a HEIF file. People have done this to store thumbnails or preview images as JPEGs.

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            It’s a different standard, not used much in the wild.

    8. 5

      Great writeup. This should possibly just collect names overtime as we notice them.

      “Can’t we think of someone else for once? “

      Come on, now, I mentioned Levison’s Safeware and several people brought up Liskov. Lobsters search will show you. We’re at least trying to recognize bright women on this forum. :) Another one to consider is Susan Stepney who did early verifying compilers and security proofs of first electronic wallet. The second is well-known with Logica’s work being a case study other formal methods were tested against. The first did a subset from Pascal to simplified assembly mapping Z specs to Prolog execution. I thought I was brilliant coming up with the second part as a shortcut to skip refining Z but found her compiler searching for prior work. That was brilliant. :)

      An excellent time to mention these ladies who may have invented the model that the PC industry used from that point on. Just took applying some people skills to an area dominated by nerds showing off their toys to other nerds. Turned it into a big business.

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        Come on, now, I mentioned Levison’s Safeware and several people brought up Liskov. Lobsters search will show you. We’re at least trying to recognize bright women on this forum. :)

        Oh def, Lobsters is a lot better than the general internet at knowing our software history! This was mostly inspired by my frustration with Twitter folk, and then I thought hey, Lobsters would probably like this too :)

        Great writeup. This should possibly just collect names overtime as we notice them.

        I’ve already got a couple people who’ve suggested a few more! For example, I just heard about Pat Selinger, and she did a lot of really important work.

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          From Pat’s wikipedia:

          “She is a pioneer in relational database management and inventor of the technique of cost-based query optimization. She was a key member of the original System R team that created the first relational database research prototype.[2][3][4] The dynamic programming algorithm for determining join order proposed in that paper still forms the basis for most of the query optimizers used in modern relational systems.”

          Very influential indeed.

    9. 3

      I’d like to nominate Katie Moussouris, who pretty much invented security bug bounties, got Microsoft to start doing it and pretty much jumpstarted the security bug bounty industry.

    10. 4

      A solid list, with one question mark.

      Lynn Conway started life as a man. does this mean he/then her achievements give equally credited to men/women?

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        No. Trans women are women.

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          Thank you . I want to live in a world where this is just taken as a given. Lets start with our little world here people.

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          What is the goal of creating a list of women in CS? If it’s to demonstrate to young girls that they can enter the field, it seems unproductive to include someone who grew up experiencing life as a man.

          If the goal of creating the list is some kind of contest, then it’s counterproductive for entirely different reasons.

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            someone who grew up experiencing life as a man

            Do you know any trans women who have said they grew up experiencing life as a man? I know quite a few and none of them have expressed anything like this, and my own experience was certainly not like that.

            However, if you mean that we were treated like men, with the privilege it brings in many areas, then yes, that became even more obvious to me the moment I came out.

            Regardless, trans folks need role models too, and we don’t get a lot of respectful representation.

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            $ curl https://www.hillelwayne.com/post/important-women-in-cs/ | grep girl | wc -l

            The motivation for the post are clearly layed out in the first paragraph:

            I’m tired of hearing about Grace Hopper, Margaret Hamilton, and Ada Lovelace. Can’t we think of someone else for once?

            It’s a pretty pure writeup for the sake of being a list you can refer to.

            On your statement about “girls”. It’s quite bad to assume a list of women is just for kids, it’s also bad to assume trans women can’t be examples to (possibly themselves trans) girls.

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              That’s not a motivation, that’s a tagline.

              The primary reason I would refer to a list like this is if I was demonstrating to a young woman considering CS that, perhaps despite appearances, many women have historically made major contributions to the field. I’m not sure what else I would need something like this for.

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                Maybe its not for you to distribute but for women to discover …

            2. 1

              I don’t see why it’s bad to assume that. It feels like it would be a pretty serious turn off to me if I we’re looking for successful women and found people who were men into adulthood. I find it hard to imagine that I’m unique in that feeling. I’m sure it feels good for trans people but I’d that’s your goal admit the trade-off rather than just telling people they’re women and not transwomen.

              You can berate people for not considering trans-women to be the same as born women but it will likely just keep them quiet rather than convince them to be inspired.

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                people who were men into adulthood

                Now I’m curious what your criteria are, if not self-identification. When did this person cease to be a man, to you?

                When they changed their name?

                When they changed their legal gender?

                When they started hormones?

                When they changed their presentation?

                When they got surgery?

                What about trans people who do none of that? E.g. I’ve changed my name and legal gender (only because governments insist on putting it in passports and whatnot,) because I had the means to do so and it bothered me enough that I did, is that enough? What about trans people who don’t have the means, option, or desire to do so?

                When biologist say that there’s not one parameter that overrides the others when it comes to determining sex¹, and that it makes more sense to just go by a person’s gender identity if you for whatever reason must label them as male/female, why is that same gender identity not enough to determine someone’s own gender?

                1. http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943
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            If it’s to demonstrate to young girls that they can enter the field, it seems unproductive to include someone who grew up experiencing life as a man.

            This is a misunderstanding of transexuality. She grew up experiencing life as a woman, but also as a woman housed in a foreign-feeling body and facing a tendency by others to mistake her gender.

            Does that mean she faced a different childhood from many other women? Sure. But she also shared many of the disadvantages they faced, frequently to a much stronger degree. Women face difficulty if they present as “femme” in this field, but it is much more intense if they present as femme AND people mis-bucket them into the “male” mental box.

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        If they identified as a woman at the time of accomplishment, it seems quite reasonable that it’d count. For future work, just think about it in terms of trans-woman extends base class woman or at least implements the woman interface.

        In any event, your comment is quite off-topic. Rehashing this sort of stuff is an exercise that while interesting is better kept literally anywhere else on the internet–if you have questions of this variety, please seek enlightenment via private message with somebody you think may be helpful on the matter, and don’t derail here.

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        The point of this is not to give more achievements to women… It’s to showcase people who were most likely marginalized.

        1. [Comment removed by author]

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            This is definitely not what life is like for trans people pre-transition.

      4. [Comment from banned user removed]

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          It’s ridiculous to allow this framing to suppress a reasonable point.

          1. [Comment from banned user removed]

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        Depends on where a person is on political spectrum. I’d probably note they’re trans if targeting a wide audience, not if a liberal one, and leave person off if a right-leaning one.

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          what they dont know wont hurt them. As far as the right is concerned , she is a woman …

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        It is irrelevant, and you asking this is offensive.

      7. -1

        Interesting question. I think it may be met with hostility, as it brings to mind the contradiction inherent in both claiming that sex/gender is arbitrary or constructed and also intentionally emphasizing the achievements of one gender. Based on the subset of my social circle that engages in this kind of thing, these activities are usually highly correlated. Picking one or the other seems to get people labeled as, respectively, some slang variation of “nerd”, or a “TERF”.

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          Can we please not for once? Every time anything similar to this comes up the thread turns into a pissfight over Gender Studies 101. Let’s just celebrate Conway’s contributions and not get into an argument about whether she “counts”.

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            Much as I sympathize, transgender is controversial enough that merely putting a trans person on a list that claims all its members are a specific gender will generate reactions like that due to a huge chunk of the population not recognizing the gender claim. That will always happen unless the audience totally agrees. So, one will always have to choose between not mentioning them to avoid noise or including them combating noise.

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              I would like to live in a world where trangender isnt controversial and we dont have to waste energy discussing this. Can lobsters be that world please ?

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              Perhaps this is why we get accused of pushing some kind of agenda or bringing politics into things, by merely existing/being visible around people who find us ”controversial” or start questioning whether our gender is legit or what have you. I usually stay out of such discussions, but sometimes feel the need to respond to claims about trans folks that I feel come from a place of ignorance rather than bigotry or malice, but most of the time I’m proven wrong and they aren’t really interested in the science or whatever they claim, they just want an excuse to say hateful things about us. I’ve had a better than average experience on this website, when it comes to responses.

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                I cant speak for everyone on the side that denies trans identity. Just my group I guess. For us and partly for others, the root of the problem is there is a status quo with massive evidence and inertia about how we categorize gender that a small segment are countering in a more subjective way. We dont think the counters carry the weight of status quo. We also prefer objective criteria about anything involving biology or human categorization where possible. I know you’ve heard the details so I spare you that

                That means there will be people objecting every time a case comes up. If it seems mean, remember that there’s leftists who will be quick to counter anything they think shouldn’t be tolerated on a forum (eg language policing) on their principles. For me, Im just courteous with the pronouns and such since it has no real effect on me in most circumstances: I can default on kindness until forced to be more specific by a question or debate happening. Trans people are still people to me. So, I avoid bringing this stuff up much as possible.

                The dont-rock-the-boat, kinder approach wouldve been for person rejecting the gender claim to just ignore talking about the person he or she didnt think was a woman to focus on others. The thread wouldve stayed on topic. Positive things would be said about about deserving people. And so on. Someone had to stir shit up, though. (Sighs)

                And I agree Lobsters have handled these things much better than other places. I usually like this community even on the days it’s irritating. Relatively at least. ;)

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                  For us and partly for others, the root of the problem is there is a status quo with massive evidence and inertia about how we categorize gender that a small segment are countering in a more subjective way.

                  I know you’re a cool dude and would be more than happy to discuss this with you in private, but I think we all mostly agree that this is now pretty outside the realm of tech, so continuing to discuss it publicly would be getting off topic :) I’ll DM you?

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                    I was just answering a question at this point as I had nothing else to say. Personally, Id rather the political topics stay off Lobsters as I voted in community guidelines thread. This tangent couldnt end sooner given how off topic and conflict-creating it is.

                    Here’s something for you to try I did earlier. Just click the minus next to Derek’s comment. This whole thread instantly looks the way it should have in first place. :)

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                  I find the idea that everyone who disagrees with these things should avoid rocking the boat extremely disconcerting. It feels like a duty to rock it on behalf of those who agree but are too polite or afraid for their jobs or reputations to state their actual opinions, to normalize speaking honestly about uncomfortable topics.

                  I mean, I also think it’s on topic to debate the political point made by the list.

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                    I agree with those points. It’s why I’m in the sub-thread. The disagreement is a practical one a few others are noting:

                    “I mean, I also think it’s on topic to debate the political point made by the list.”

                    I agree. I told someone that in private plus said it here in this thread. Whether we want to bring it up, though, should depend on what the goal is. My goal is the site stays focused on interesting, preferably-deep topics with pleasant experience with minimal noise. There’s political debates and flamewars available all over the Internet with the experience that’s typical of Lobsters being a rarity. So, I’d just have not brought it up here.

                    When someone did, the early response was a mix of people saying it’s off-topic/unnecessary (my side) and a group decreeing their political views as undeniable truth or standards for the forum. Aside from no consensus on those views, prior metas on these things showed that even those people believed our standards would be defined by what we spoke for and against with silence itself being a vote for something. So, a few of us with different views on political angle, who still opposed the comment, had to speak to ensure the totality of the community was represented. It’s necessary as long as (a) we do politics here and (b) any group intends to make its politics a standard or enforeable rule. Countering that political maneuvering was all I was doing except for a larger comment where I just answered someone’s question.

                    Well, that plus reinforcing I’m against these political angles being on the site period like I vote in metas. You can easily test my hypothesis/preference. Precondition: A site that’s usually low noise with on-topic, productive comments. Goal: Identify, discuss, and celebrate the achievements of women on a list or in the comments maintaining that precondition. Test: count the comments talking about one or more women versus the gender identity of one (aka political views). It’s easier to visualize what my rule would be like if you collapse Derek’s comment tree. The whole thread meets the precondition and goal. You can also assess those active more on politics than the main topic by adding up who contributed something about an undisputed woman in CompSci and who just talked about the politics. Last I looked, there were more users doing the politics than highlighting women in CompSci as well. Precondition and goal failed on two measurements early on in discussion. There’s a lot of on-topic comments right now, though, so leaned back in good direction.

                    Time and place for everything. I’d rather this stuff stay off Lobsters with me only speaking on it where others force it. It’s not like those interested can’t message each other, set up a gender identity thread on another forum, load up IRC, and so on to discuss it. They’re smart people. There’s many mediums. A few of us here just want one to be better than the rest in quality and focus. That’s all. :) And it arguably was without that comment tree.

                3. [Comment from banned user removed]

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                  The dont-rock-the-boat, kinder approach wouldve been for person rejecting the gender claim to just ignore talking about the person he or she didnt think was a woman to focus on others. The thread wouldve stayed on topic. Positive things would be said about about deserving people.

                  Do you believe the most deserving will be talked about most? If you have a population that talks positively about people whether or not they are trans, and you have a smaller population that talks only about non trans people and ignores the trans people, Which people will be talked about most in aggregate? It isn’t kinder to ignore people and their accomplishments.

                  It is also very strange for technology people to reject a technology that changes your gender. What if you had a magic gun and you can be a women for a day, and then be a man the next, why the hell not? We have a technology now where you can be a man or a women or neither or both if you wanted to. Isn’t technology amazing? You tech person you!

    11. -4

      Now we need an “Importent men in CS who aren’t Alan Turing” list.

      After all, men and women are equal before the Gods.

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        Be the change you want to see. There’s a women’s list because someone felt it was worth the effort, and no men’s list because nobody cared enough to do more than whinge that it wasn’t done for them.

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          Also I can rattle off 30+ important men on the spot while finding 15 important women took me a couple of days of research

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        This would be true, if it were the case that most people didn’t know about any important contributors to computer science, except for Alan Turing.