Niklaus Wirth

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Niklaus Emil Wirth (born February 15, 1934) is a Swiss computer scientist, best known for designing several programming languages, including Pascal, and for pioneering several classic topics in software engineering. In 1984 he won the Turing Award for developing a sequence of innovative computer languages.



Wirth was born in Winterthur, Switzerland, in 1934. In 1959 he earned a degree in Electronics Engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETH Zürich). In 1960 he earned an M.Sc. from Université Laval, Canada. Then in 1963 he was awarded a EECS from the University of California, Berkeley, supervised by the computer designer pioneer Harry Huskey.

From 1963 to 1967 he served as assistant professor of Computer Science at Stanford University and again at the University of Zurich. Then in 1968 he became Professor of Informatics at ETH Zürich, taking two one-year sabbaticals at Xerox PARC in California (1976–1977 and 1984–1985). Wirth retired in 1999.

Programming languages

Wirth was the chief designer of the programming languages Euler, Algol W, Pascal, Modula, Modula-2, Oberon, Oberon-2, and Oberon-07 . He was also a major part of the design and implementation team for the Lilith and Oberon operating systems, and for the Lola digital hardware design and simulation system. He received the ACM Turing Award for the development of these languages and in 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the ACM. He designed the simple programming language PL/0 to illustrate compiler design. It has formed the basis for many university compiler design classes.

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