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Frances Elizabeth "Fran" Allen

Born 1932 (age 77–78)
upstate New York, United States
Fields computer science
Institutions IBM
Alma mater State University of New York at Albany,
University of Michigan
Known for high-performance computing, parallel computing, compiler organization, optimization
Notable awards Turing Award
For the early American nun, see Frances Allen (nun).

Frances Elizabeth "Fran" Allen (born 1932) is an American computer scientist and pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers. Her achievements include seminal work in compilers, code optimization, and parallelization. She also had a role in intelligence work on programming languages and security codes for the National Security Agency.[1][2]

Allen was the first female IBM Fellow and in 2006 became the first woman to win the Turing Award.



Allen grew up on a farm in upstate New York and graduated from The New York State College for Teachers (now State University of New York at Albany) with a B.Sc. degree in mathematics in 1954.[3] She earned an M.Sc. degree in mathematics at the University of Michigan in 1957 and began teaching school in Peru, New York.[4] Deeply in debt, she joined IBM on July 15, 1957 and planned to stay only until her school loans were paid, but ended up staying for her entire 45-year career.

Allen became the first female IBM Fellow in 1989. In 2007 the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award was created in her honor.

Awards and honors

Allen is a fellow of the IEEE, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Computer History Museum. She is currently on the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, the Computer Research Associates (CRA) board and National Science Foundation's CISE Advisory Board. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

In 1997, Allen was inducted into the WITI Hall of Fame.[5] She retired from IBM in 2002 and won the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award that year from the Association for Women in Computing.

In 2007 Allen was recognized for her work in high performance computing when she received the A.M. Turing Award for 2006. She became the first woman recipient in the forty year history of the award which is considered the Nobel Prize for computing and is given by the Association for Computing Machinery. She was awarded an honorary doctor in science degree at the winter commencement at SUNY University at Albany.[6][7][8][9][10] In interviews following the award she hoped it would give more "opportunities for women in science, computing and engineering".[11] In 2009 she was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree from McGill university for "pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution". In her lecture presented to the ACM, Allen describes her work.[12]


  1. ^ IBM Corporation, "IBM Fellow becomes first woman to receive A. M. Turing Award"
  2. ^ Crump, Micheal, "Frances Allen's Computer Tipping", UAB Kaleidoscope magazine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, September 21, 2009.
  3. ^ Lohr, Steve (August 6, 2002). Scientist at Work: Frances Allen; Would-Be Math Teacher Ended Up Educating a Computer Revolution. New York Times
  4. ^ Lasewicz, Paul (April 5, 2003). Frances Allen interview transcript.
  5. ^ WITI Hall of Fame
  6. ^ Perelman, Deborah (February 27, 2007). "Turing Award Anoints First Female Recipient". eWEEK (Ziff Davis Enterprise).,1895,2098922,00.asp. Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  7. ^ Associated Press (February 21, 2007). First Woman Honored With Turing Award.
  8. ^ The Association for Computing Machinery (February 21, 2007). "First Woman to Receive ACM Turing Award". Press release. Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  9. ^ Lombardi, Candace (February 26, 2007). "Newsmaker: From math teacher to Turing winner". Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  10. ^ Marianne Kolbasuk McGee (February 26, 2007, online February 24, 2007). "There's Still A Shortage Of Women In Tech, First Female Turing Award Winner Warns". InformationWeek (CMP Media). Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  11. ^ Thomas, Jeffrey (16 March 2007). "Turing Award Winner Sees New Day for Women Scientists, Engineers". Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 2007-11-05.  
  12. ^ Allen, Frances E.. (2006) (.mov). 2006 Turing Award Lecture. ACM. Retrieved 2007-11-05.  

External links

Allen mg 2545-b.jpg


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