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Frances Allen, First Female Recipient of ACM A.M. Turing Award, Dies at 88

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Allen was an ACM Fellow, an IBM Fellow, and a fellow of the IEEE and the Computer History Museum

Frances "Fran" Allen, the first female IBM Fellow and the first woman to receive the ACM A.M. Turing Award, died on August 4.

Credit: IBM

Frances "Fran" Allen, a pioneer in the world of computing, the first female IBM Fellow and the first woman to win the Turing Award, died on August 4, the day of her 88th birthday.

Fran grew up on a farm in Peru, New York. She graduated from The New York State College for Teachers (now SUNY – Albany) with a B.Sc. in mathematics in 1954 and began teaching school back at her local school in Peru.  After two years, she enrolled at the University of Michigan and earned an M.Sc. degree in mathematics in 1957. In debt with student loans, Fran joined IBM Research in Poughkeepsie, NY as a programmer on July 15, 1957, where she taught incoming employees the basics of FORTRAN.  She planned to stay only until her debts were paid, however, she ended up spending her entire career at IBM. Fran retired from IBM in 2002, but remained affiliated with the company as a Fellow Emerita.

As a pioneer in compiler organization and optimization algorithms, Fran made seminal contributions to the world of computing. Her work on inter-procedural analysis and automatic parallelization continues to be on the leading edge of compiler research. She successfully reduced this science to practice through the transfer of this technology to products such as the STRETCH HARVEST Compiler, the COBOL Compiler, and the Parallel FORTRAN Product.

As much as Fran will be remembered for her technical vision and her foundational work in computing, she will equally be remembered for her passion to inspire and mentor others, fostering an environment of perseverance and hard work throughout the IBM community.


From IBM Research Blog
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