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June 25: Aldrich Receives Dahl-Nygaard Prize for Outstanding Work in Object-Oriented Programming


Anne Watzman

Byron Spice

Jonathan Aldrich Receives Dahl-Nygaard Prize for
Outstanding Work in Object-Oriented Programming    

PITTSBURGH—Jonathan Aldrich, assistant professor in the Institute for Software Research (ISR) in Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science, will receive the 2007 AITO Dahl-Nygaard Junior Prize for his groundbreaking work in object-oriented programming, the dominant programming paradigm in industry. He shares the spotlight with Luca Cardelli of Microsoft Research in Cambridge, England, who will receive the Senior Prize for his overall contribution to both theory and practice for object-oriented languages.    

Jonathan AldrichAldrich's work tackles one of the most important challenges in industrial software development: getting the large-scale structure of programs right. Software is among the most complex artifacts that humans engineer today, with programs exceeding a million pages of code. Software companies may have hundreds or thousands of engineers scattered around the globe. If any one of them accidentally introduces any code that is inconsistent with a system's design, the entire system could fail.     

Aldrich is being honored for developing ArchJava, an extension of the Java programming language that encodes the high-level structure of a system inside the code and uses automated analysis tools to verify that the code is consistent with that structure. The goal of his work is to summarize the architectural design of huge software systems on a single page, then automatically ensure that all million pages of code are consistent with that summary over time.    

"Jonathan's pioneering work on ArchJava was the first to mathematically link a blueprint of the overall architecture of an object-oriented system with the actual execution of the object-oriented code," said William L. Scherlis, professor of computer science and head of ISR. "His work not only has theoretical interest, but it can also be scaled to real-world software systems."    

The Dahl-Nygaard prizes are the most prestigious awards given for work in object-oriented programming. Established in 2004 by the Association Internationale Pour les Technologies Objets (AITO), they are named for Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard, who developed the first object-oriented programming language. Object-oriented programming is a paradigm in which programs are structured in direct imitation of the relationships among objects in the real world, making programming more natural. Aldrich's work extends the power of object-oriented languages to describe how objects are grouped into components and how those high-level components relate.

Aldrich and Cardelli will be honored Aug. 2 at the 2007 European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming (ECOOP) which takes place from July 30 to Aug. 3 in Berlin. Aldrich's prize includes an award of about 2,000 Euros, as well as travel expenses to attend the conference. Both Aldrich and Cardelli will be keynote speakers at the conference.    

Aldrich holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from the California Institute of Technology. He received his doctor's degree in computer science from the University of Washington in 2003, and shortly thereafter joined the faculty at Carnegie Mellon, where he directs the ISR minor program in software engineering. In 2006, Aldrich received a prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award for "lightweight modeling and enforcement of architectural behavior." He continues to extend his work into the structure of object-oriented programming, and is now including aspects of behavior — for example, checking that the order of events in a program is consistent with the software architect's design — in his research.    

For more on the Dahl-Nygaard prizes, see