Ole-Johan Dahl (October 12, 1931 – June 29, 2002) was a Norwegian computer scientist and is considered to be one of the fathers of Simula and object-oriented programming along with Kristen Nygaard.
Dahl, born in Mandal, Norway, is widely accepted as Norway’s foremost computer scientist. With Kristen Nygaard, he produced the initial ideas for object-oriented (OO) programming in the 1960s at the Norwegian Computing Center (NR) as part of the Simula I (1961–1965) and Simula 67 (1965–1968) simulation programming languages. Dahl and Nygaard were the first to develop the concepts of class, subclass (allowing implicit information hiding), inheritance, dynamic object creation, etc., all important aspects of the OO paradigm. An object is a self-contained component (with a data structure and associated procedures or methods) in a software system. These are combined to form a complete system. The object-oriented approach is now pervasive in modern software development, including widely used imperative programming languages such as Java and C++.
Dahl became a full professor at the University of Oslo in 1968 and was a gifted teacher as well as researcher. Here he worked on Hierarchical Program Structures, probably his most influential publication, which appeared co-authored with C.A.R. Hoare in the influential book Structured Programming of 1972 by Dahl, Edsger Dijkstra and Hoare, perhaps the best-know academic book concerning software in the 1970s.
As his career progressed, Dahl became increasingly interested in the use of formal methods, to rigorously reason about object-orientation for example. His expertise ranged from the practical application of ideas to their formal mathematical underpinning to ensure the validity of the approach.
He received the Turing Award for his work in 2001. He received the 2002 IEEE John von Neumann Medal (with Kristen Nygaard) and was named Commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olav in 2000.
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