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Luca Cardelli wins Programming Languages Achievement Award


Luca Cardelli has been awarded the Programming Languages Achievement Award by ACM SIGPLAN. The award recognises an individual or individuals who have made a significant and lasting contribution to the field of programming languages. 

The citation explains that Luca “has made exceptional contributions to the field of programming languages. He has a remarkable ability to re-invent himself every decade or so and yet continue to make true innovations. His contributions span many areas: software; language design, including experimental languages; programming language foundations; and the interaction of programming languages and biology.

He is a leading language designer. He was one of the designers of Modula-3, which played a major role in popularising the notion of type-safe programming, and was a key influence on Java and C#. Thus, his work helped lay the foundations for today’s near-universal industrial acceptance of type-safe programming languages. He also designed several important experimental languages, including Obliq, a distributed higher-order scripting language, and Polyphonic C#, a distributed extension of C#. He implemented the first compiler for ML.

He is a leading and hugely influential computer scientist. His most sustained research activity has been in establishing the semantic and type-theoretic foundations of programming languages. Two of his most prominent works are his 1985 paper “On understanding types, data abstraction, and polymorphism” (with Wegner) and his 1996 book “A Theory of Objects” (with Abadi). Other important works of his concern the semantics of multiple inheritance in object-oriented languages and explicit substitutions in the lambda-calculus.

More recently, he has focused on modelling global and mobile computation, via the Ambient Calculus and spatial logics. His work pioneered an influential way of describing, programming, and reasoning about global and mobile computation, in terms of formal calculi and language constructs. It also connected with an important line of work on semi-structured data, and led, indirectly, to his current interest in biology and stochastic systems. In both his own work and his great scientific influence Cardelli has made lasting contributions to the field of programming languages.“ 

Cardelli, a top computer scientist at Microsoft Research, was awarded a Royal Society Research Professorship, which saw him join the Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford in 2013. It is not the first time that a member of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science has one the prestigious award. The Programming Languages Achievement Award was previously given to former Head of Department Sir Tony Hoare in 2011.

The award includes a prize of $5,000. The award will be presented at SIGPLAN’s PLDI Conference in June 2016.