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High Integrity Language Technology
ACM SIGAda’s Annual International Conference

image of Barbara Liskov

Barbara Liskov

Barbara Liskov is an Institute Professor and head of the Programming Methodology Group that is currently conducting research in the field of Distributed Computing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Her research interests lie in programming methodology, programming languages and systems, distributed computing, Byzantine-fault-tolerant storage systems, peer-to-peer computing, and support for automatic deployment of software upgrades in large-scale distributed systems.

Dr. Liskov’s professional success and her contribution to the advancement of software engineering makes her a true pioneer in the field of Computer Science. Liskov is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Association for Computer Machinery. She received The Society of Women Engineers’ Achievement Award in 1996. In 2004, she won the IEEE John von Neumann Medal for “fundamental contributions to programming languages, programming methodology, and distributed systems.” At the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Design and Implementation Conference in 2008, ACM recognized her work in the design of programming languages and software methodology that led to the development of Object-Oriented Programming as revolutionary and awarded her the Programming Languages Achievement Award. In 2009, she received the A.M. Turing Award from ACM. Liskov is also an author of three books and over a hundred technically-oriented papers and articles.

The first woman in the USA to receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science (from Stanford University for her thesis on a computer program playing chess end games), Barbara Liskov is one of the most successful female scientists in the field of software systems research. Currently a professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she is well-known all over the world for her work in the design of different programming languages and software methodology that leads to the development of Object-Oriented Programming (OOP).

In her profession, Liskov focuses on software systems and how to improve their performance. Her love for mathematics and technology and her excellent team work skills soon furthered her assignment as a leader of many significant software projects: the design and implementation of CLU, the first language to support data abstraction; the design and implementation of Argus, the first high-level language to support implementation of distributed programs; and the Thor object-oriented database system, which provides transactional access to persistent, highly-available objects in wide-scale distributed environments.

Dr. Barbara Liskov’s significant achievement, the Liskov Substitution Principle, was introduced in 1987. It represents a definition of a particular subtyping relation, called (strong) behavioral subtyping. The relation is characterized as semantic since it intends to provide for semantic interoperability of different types (object types in particular) in a hierarchy. The principle itself was formulated in 1994 by Liskov and Jeannette Wing and defines a concept of substitutability for mutable objects, i.e., it asserts that if S is a subtype of T, then objects of type T in a computer program may be replaced with objects of type S without altering any of the desirable properties of the program. In addition, it imposes new standard requirements on method signatures at the class level that have been adopted in latest OOP languages.

She can be reached via email at liskov at csail.mit.edu

Created on 30 November 2012;  website comments and corrections to ClydeRoby at ACM.Org