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Sir Antony Hoare

2006 Fellow

For development of the Quicksort algorithm and for lifelong contributions to the theory of programming languages.

There are two ways of constructing a software design; one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult. —Sir Antony Hoare


Elliot 803 digital computer, ca. 1960
Elliot 803 digital computer, ca. 1960

Antony Hoare was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 1934. He received a B.A. in classics from Oxford University (1956).

Hoare's interest in computing was awakened in the early 1950s when he became fascinated by the power of logic and mathematics. In 1959, while studying machine translation of languages in Moscow, he invented the now well-known sorting algorithm, "Quicksort."

Hoare returned to England the following year and worked as a programmer for Elliott Brothers, a small British computer manufacturer, designing the first commercial Algol 60 compiler. He continued until 1968, when he became professor of computing science at Queen's University, Belfast.

Hoare moved to Oxford University in 1977 and devised a system of logical rules that any programmer could follow, in the process helping to move the writing of software from a somewhat mystical discipline into a field with solid foundations.

Other results of his research include the Z specification language, the CSP concurrent programming model, and a method of analyzing the performance of parallel computing systems.

He is a fellow of the Royal Society, holds the ACM Turing Award (1980) and the Kyoto Prize (2000), and was knighted in 2000.