Dr. Edsger W. Dijkstra

Graduate students are essential to the UT Computer Science’s mission to lead in the creation of scientific knowledge and practical technologies that are defining the digital revolution of the 21st century.

Professor Dijkstra understood this and his research and teachings have had a lasting impact on Texas Computer Science and a number of our alumni who have continued his pioneering contributions to the field by advancing their own in programming, logic, verification, and formal methods to name but a few.

A donation made to this important graduate student support fund therefore ensures students who have demonstrated research work of high distinction and potential in the areas of study advanced by Dr. Edsger Dijkstra have access to all of the financial resources they need to pursue their studies.

About Professor Dijkstra

Dijkstra was born in 1930 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, the son of a chemist father and a mathematician mother. He graduated from the Gymnasium Erasmianum in Rotterdam and obtained degrees in mathematics and theoretical physics from the University of Leyden and a Ph.D. in computing science from the University of Amsterdam. He worked as a programmer at the Mathematisch Centrum, Amsterdam, 1952-62; was professor of mathematics, Eindhoven University of Technology, 1962-1984; and was the Burroughs Corporation research fellow, 1973-1984. He held the Schlumberger Centennial Chair in Computing Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, 1984-1999, and retired as Professor Emeritus in 1999.

Dijkstra was the 1972 recipient of the ACM Turing Award, often viewed as the Nobel Prize for computing. He was a member of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society. He received the 1974 AFIPS Harry Goode Award, the 1982 IEEE Computer Pioneer Award, and the 1989 ACM SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education.

Throughout his scientific career, Dijkstra formulated and pursued the highest academic ideals of scientific rigor untainted by commercial, managerial, or political considerations. Simplicity, beauty, and eloquence were his hallmarks, and his uncompromising insistence on elegance in programming and mathematics was an inspiration to thousands. He judged his own work by the highest standards and set a continuing challenge to his many friends to do the same. For the rest, he willingly undertook the role of Socrates, that of a gadfly to society, repeatedly goading his native and his adoptive country by remarking on the mistakes inherent in fashionable ideas and the dangers of time-serving compromises. Like Socrates, his most significant legacy is to those who engaged with him in small group discussions or scientific correspondence about half-formulated ideas and emerging discoveries.

Although Professor Dijkstra passed away in 2002 through cancer, future students should know that this renowned computer scientist once taught at this department. The ‘Dr. Edsger W. Dijkstra Graduate Student Support Fund’ is a fitting tribute to the impact he had here at UT and in the world of Computer Science.


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