Who Was Edsger Dijkstra?

DevToolsGuy / Friday, September 13, 2013

Edsger Dijkstra was born in 1930 in the Netherlands and passed away in 2002, leaving behind an impressive legacy in the scientific community that is still alive and well to this day. A Formal Aspects of Computing obituary highlighted the life of Dijkstra and his impact on the programming landscape.

Dijkstra published a three-page article in 1959 titled, "A note on two problems in connection with graphs." The simple algorithm highlighted the shortest path in a graph, leading to it now being called Dijkstra's algorithm.

In 1968, his 70-page essay titled "Cooperating sequential processes" was a major milestone in the field of concurrent programming. The obituary explained that the report included the first synchronization mechanism for concurrent processes. The essay also included the "Banker's algorithm," which helps prevent the instance of deadline in concurrent programming.

All in all, these are but a small slice of Dijkstra's immense work history. Some of his other accolades include receiving the ACM Turing award and being a member of both the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

On August 10, 2002, Mario Szegedy reflected on the immense impact left by one of the scientific community's greatest minds. Dijkstra's legacy does not just include his various accolades, but his overall philosophy. Szegedy explained that of the more than 1,000 reports published by Dijkstra, some contained errors, but none were boring because of the "elegant presentation and the convincing power of virtually all of Dijksra's documents spiced with his unique personal style have much contributed to his worldwide recognition."

Edsger Wybe Dijkstra may have passed on in 2002, but it is clear that his contributions in the scientific and programming communities will live on forever through his acclaimed work in the field.