First Ever Dijkstra Fellowship Shared by David Chaum and Guido van Rossum
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 06 January 2020

The newly established Dijkstra Fellowship aims to recognize the impact of groundbreaking work in mathematics and computer science. It comes from the Amsterdam-based Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) and is named in honor of Edsger Dijkstra who developed his eponymous shortest path algorithm while a researcher at CWI.

The Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands.  Its mission is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to society at large, and to industry in particular. The Dijkstra Fellowship, awarded to individuals associated with the organization, is also intended to boost CWI's reputation by recognition of  pioneering contributions made there in area of Mathematics and Computer Science.

Edsger Dijkstra

The award is in honor of the work and legacy of Edsger W. Dijkstra (1930-2002)  who developed much of his pioneering work at Mathematisch Centrum, the institute now named CWI. 

According to CWI:

During his life [Dijkstra] shaped the field of computer science like no other scientist. His ground-breaking contributions ranged from the engineering to the theoretical side of computer science. They covered areas such as compiler construction, operating systems, distributed systems, sequential and concurrent programming, software engineering, and graph algorithms. Many of Dijkstra’s papers, often just a few pages long, are the source of new research areas. Indeed, several concepts that are now standard in computer science were first identified by Dijkstra and bear names coined by him.

To know more about Dijkstra's influence on computer science see our history article, Edsger Dijkstra - The Poetry Of Programming. 

Starting in November 2019, Dijkstra Fellowships are to be awarded once every five years to scientists who have accomplished groundbreaking research in mathematics and computer science. The first recipients, David Chaum and Guido van Rossum, accepted their awards at a ceremony during the annual CWI Lectures on 21 November 2019 and they each delivered a lecture discussing their work and giving their views on future developments. Also, other key players in Chaum’s and Van Rossum’s areas of expertise presented their recent advances.

Jos Baeten, General Director CWI explained the choice of the inagural Dijkstra Fellows saying:

"Our institute aims to play a leading role in the area of mathematics and computer science research. Both Chaum and Van Rossum have contributed to this ambition like no other. And not only in the field of scientific research: we still feel the impact of their work in society every day. They deserve to be honored as the first “Dijkstra Fellows” like no other."

DavidChaum GuidovanRossum

The official statement also provides the following citations:

David Chaum is a mathematician as well as a computer scientist and will receive the honorary title “Dijkstra Fellow” for his advanced research in the area of Privacy and Cryptology. By setting up the Cryptology research group at CWI in the early 80’s, he brought modern Cryptology to Europe. He is internationally recognized as the founder of digital currencies and blockchain technology. Spin-off Digicash emerged from his research work. Chaum developed eCash, the precursor of the bitcoin, under the flag of Digicash.

CWI awards Guido van Rossum with the Dijkstra Fellowship for the impact of his programming language Python. Python is currently one of the most used programming languages in the world. The language is valued by beginners as well as professionals and is especially valued for its usability. Python is ideal for applications in the field of AI. The language is available open source and has a globally active user community.

Following the links on their names lead to interviews where the recipients comment on receiving their awards, expand on their individual relationship with CWI and on their achievements.


More Information

Dijkstra Fellowships

Related Articles

Edsger Dijkstra - The Poetry Of Programming

Guido van Rossum On Python and Diversity in Open Source 

Python Language Of The Year 

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Last Updated ( Monday, 11 May 2020 )