The Association for Computing Machinery’s Council on Women in Computing (ACM-W) yesterday named MIT’s Nancy Lynch its 2012-13 Athena Lecturer, recognizing Lynch for her advances in distributed systems enabling dependable Internet and wireless network applications. The Athena Lecturer award, which comes with a $10,000 honorarium provided by Google, “celebrates women researchers who have made fundamental contributions to computer science.”
According to the press release:
“Lynch’s work has influenced both theoreticians and practitioners,” said Mary Jane Irwin, who heads the ACM-W Athena Lecturer award committee. “Her ability to formulate many of the core problems of the field in clear and precise ways has provided a foundation that allows computer system designers to find ways to work around the limitations she verified, and to solve problems with high probability” [more following the link].
In a career spanning more than 30 years, Lynch identified the boundaries between what is possible and provably impossible to solve in distributed settings. She developed new distributed algorithms, created precise models for analyzing distributed algorithms and systems, and discovered limitations on what distributed algorithms can accomplish.
Lynch’s breakthrough research with M.J. Fischer and M.S. Paterson produced the “FLP” result. It defined as a mathematical problem the challenge of establishing agreement in asynchronous distributed systems (i.e., those with no timing assumptions) in the presence of failures. This innovation had a major impact on the design of fault-tolerant distributed data-management systems and communication systems.
Lynch’s textbook, Distributed Algorithms, is the definitive reference on the basics of the field. It introduces readers to the fundamental issues underlying the design of distributed systems, including communication, coordination, synchronization, and uncertainty. It integrates the results of distributed algorithms research using a common mathematical framework.
The Athena Lecturer award will be presented at ACM’s Annual Awards Banquet in mid-June.
Lynch will deliver the Athena Lecture at the 2013 PODC (Principles of Distributed Computing) conference.
To learn more about this year’s Athena Lecturer and view past recipients, see the ACM’s press release.
(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)