[SIGCIS-Members] Useful video clips of Turing Award winners

thomas.haigh at gmail.com thomas.haigh at gmail.com
Tue Feb 2 09:32:23 PST 2021



For some years I've had a little side job for the ACM as editor of the
Turing Award website: https://amturing.acm.org/. This centers on  short
biographical profiles of the awardees.
https://amturing.acm.org/alphabetical.cfm Most of the heavy lifting to get
those written, edited, and posted was carried out by the founding editor,
Mike Williams.


ACM has been running a major initiative to get video history interviews
performed with as many of the living Turing awardees as possible. In some
cases they have borrowed existing interviews performed by other
organizations, but most of the featured interviews are newly conducted and
range from one to four hours. The majority are conducted by fellow computer
scientists or journalists with only a handful by historians, so there's
considerable variation in tone, interview strategy and topics covered from
one interview to another. We have attached the full video interviews to the
profiles, via "Video Interview' icon near the top of the profile. All
together, there are currently 35 video interviews, all available on YouTube:


It turned out that not many people were clicking over from the profiles to
watch the videos, and that YouTube is more excited by unboxing and cat
videos than long interviews with eminent computer scientists. So the ACM
History Committee sponsored me to edit down short (mostly 3 to 6 minute)
clips from the long interviews and embed them in the biographical profiles.
These clips might also be useful for those of you teaching computer science
courses or history or STS courses that touch on the contributions of the
awardees. You can browse the full list at


On the computer science side the relevance should be fairly obvious, as I
tried to prepare at least one clip for each awardee focused on their most
famous contributions. So you could show Hoare explaining quicksort or CSPs,
Lamport on the bakery algorithm, Knuth on TeX or The Art of Computer
Programming, Cook on why P=NP matters, Liskov on the Liskov Substitution
Principle and so on.


Here are some examples of videos that might be useful for certain history or
STS courses:


Feigenbaum on editing Computers and Thought:

Kahan and Cerf on why the ARPANET was built:

Knuth on early compiler writing (and why he decided not to do it for a
living): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvlEQwB0m0I

Brooks on writing The Mythical Man Month:

Hellman on the definition of public key encryption:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wA1Aao1hc8g&t=12s> &t=12s

Rivest on the origins of RSA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p1I1LC1DpeA

Allen on joining IBM and teaching FORTRAN:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcyOIkhDk1s&t=11s> &t=11s

Backus on the creation of FORTRAN:

Stonebraker on building INGRES: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0da-1IJH2OQ

Blum on creating CAPTCHA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7FmOaLJfLw

Goldwasser on Berkeley's computer science department:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8jP7aShw80&t=134s> &t=134s

Bachman on IDS, the first database management system:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rncvHOLg1bU&t=28s> &t=28s

Kahan on the HP programmable calculators:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mBw7tnRx1c&t=294s> &t=294s

Reddy on Graduate School with John McCarthy:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0pBxEL-N-o&t=22s> &t=22s


Also, if you need cheering up, watch Micali on how he barely survived
graduate school: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMVt8S91P0g
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMVt8S91P0g&t=80s> &t=80s. Or if you want
to despair at how the academic job market today is not like that in the
early days of CS, hear Hopcroft explain how he was hired at Princeton
without having published anything:
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCs1SqHUdzk&t=19s> &t=19s


Best wishes,




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