Stanford University

Programming ≠ Coding

Cubberley Auditorium
Thursday, April 16, 2020 7:30 PM
open to the public
Leslie Lamport, Principal Computer Scientist, Microsoft Research

Coding is the last step in writing a program.  First comes deciding what the program should do and how it should do it.  The best way to think about those steps is with mathematics.  But programmers can't use the simple math they need, and mathematicians don't teach them how.

Winner of the 2013 Turing Award (the ‘Nobel Prize of computer science’), Leslie Lamport is a Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research.  After writing a thesis on partial differential equations, he has worked in the computer industry, focusing on practical problems.  In the process of solving them, he used mathematics to invent very general frameworks for thinking about the foundations of concurrent programming and distributed systems.  And all of this work started with the quest to understand how to organize a queue at a local bakery.  Any time you access a modern computer, you are likely to be impacted by Lamport's algorithms.  To those outside of computer science, he is best known as the author of LaTeX, a document formatting system that extends D. E. Knuth’s TeX and is now the standard for publishing in many fields, including mathematics, computer science, statistics,  physics, and works that contain multilingual or technical materials