Birthday Greetings to Discoverer of Quicksort
Written by Historian   
Wednesday, 11 January 2012


Tony Hoare, currently Emeritus Professor at the Department of Computer Science, University of Oxford and a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, UK, turns 78 today. He is best known for the Quicksort algorithm which he developed in 1960. This and many other contributions earned him a knighthood for services to Computing in 2000 and the Turing Medal in 1980. 

This year is likely to be a busy one for recipients of the Turing Medal and Tony Hoare is one of the main speakers at the ACM's UK Turing Centenary Conference in Manchester, UK. 


Charles Antony Richard Hoare was born on 11 January 1934 in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). His first degree was in Classics at Merton College, Oxford and he remained at Oxford University a further year studying statistics.He later studied computer translation of human languages at the Moscow State University.

According to his Microsoft home page he came up with the Quicksort algorithm to assist in efficient look-up of words in a dictionary. His next computing achievement was to lead a team (including his later wife Jill) in the design and delivery of the first commercial compiler for the programming language Algol 60.

He is also known for Hoare logic, which he proposed in 1969, and as the co-author, Edsger Dijkstra and Ole-Johan Dahl with of  a classic text in the art of computer programming, Structured Programming (1972), see side panel.

Hoare moved from industry to academia in 1968 when he became Professor of Computing Science at Queen's University, Belfast with the research goal of understand why operating systems were so much more difficult than compilers, and to see if advances in programming theory and languages could help with the problems of concurrency. In 1977 he moved to Oxford University where he built up the Programming Research Group, founded by Christopher Strachey.

On reaching retirement age at Oxford he went back to industry and has now been at Microsoft Research in Cambridge for more than a decade.

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