David Ungar Receives Dahl-Nygaard Prize

Russell Allen mail at russell-allen.com
Wed May 13 22:10:33 UTC 2009

Congrats to Dave for receiving the Dahl-Nygaard Prize for Outstanding 
Work in Object-Oriented Programming!


"Kaiserslautern, GERMANY,May, 11, 2009 David Ungar, of IBM Research, 
will receive the 2009 Dahl-Nygaard Senior Prize for his groundbreaking 
work in the field of object-orientation. The Dahl-Nygaard Prize will 
recognize Ungar's complete body of work, most notably for his role in 
inventing Self, the object-oriented programming language based on the 
concept of prototypes.

Object-oriented programming helps people build more sophisticated 
computer software by dividing up a program into a number of separate 
bundles, each possessing the data and behavior needed to do a particular 

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.

Self, co-invented with Randall B. Smith, Craig Chambers, Urs Hölzle, and 
developed with Ole Agesen, Lars Bak, Elgin Lee, John Maloney, and Mario 
Wolczko, has had a profound effect upon the field of computer 
programming. It introduced advanced adaptive compilation technology, and 
inspired a number of languages based on its concepts, including 
JavaScript, which has become one of the most popular tools for 
developing dynamic web pages. The technologies introduced in Self have 
only been partially realized, and we can expect them to continue to 
create an impact in the coming years.

In addition to his roles in inventing the elegant Self language and in 
enabling managed runtimes with generational garbage collection, Ungar 
has improved the user experience of object-oriented and other systems 
with his 1993 paper co-authored with Bay-Wei Chang, titled "Animation: 
 From Cartoons to the User Interface.” This innovative work applied 
cartoon animation techniques to the legibility of user interfaces. In 
2004 it won the lasting impact award at the ACM Symposium on User 
Interface Software and Technology.

Ungar and Smith's Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages & 
Applications (OOPSLA) paper in 1987 entitled, "Self: The Power of 
Simplicity," was also previously recognized in 2006 as one of the three 
most influential OOPSLA papers from 1986 to 1996.

Ungar will be honored at the 2009 European Conference on Object-Oriented 
Programming (ECOOP) which takes place from July 6-10 in Genova, Italy.

Ungar graduated as a doctor of philosophy in computer science from the 
University of California, Berkeley, in 1986. His doctoral advisor was 
David Patterson and his dissertation was entitled "The Design and 
Evaluation of a High-Performance Smalltalk System" it won an 1986 ACM 
Doctoral Dissertation Award. He was an assistant professor at Stanford 
University, Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Computer Systems Lab, where 
in addition to working on Self, he taught programming languages and 
computer architecture, from 1985 to 1990.

Thereafter, he moved to Sun Microsystems Laboratories, where he and 
Randall B. Smith co-led the Self effort. Subsequently, Ungar helped Sun 
harness Self's implementation technology for their Java virtual machine, 
and was honored within Sun as a Distinguished Engineer. In 2006 he was 
recognized as a Distinguished Engineer by the Association for Computing 

In 2007, Ungar joined the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Lab and is 
currently working within the Dynamic Optimization Group. He holds 20 

Previous IBM winners of the Dahl-Nygaard Prize include John Vlissides, 
who posthumously won the prize in 2006. "

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