Karen Spärck Jones lecture 2013

The power of abstraction

Prof Barbara Liskov

Abstraction is at the centre of much work in computer science. It encompasses finding the right interface for a system as well as finding an effective design for system implementation. Furthermore, abstraction is the basis for program construction, allowing programs to be built in a modular fashion. This talk will discuss how the abstraction mechanisms we use today came to be; how they are supported in programming languages; and some possible areas for future research.

View the presentation slides

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4 - Q&A

About the speaker

Barbara Liskov is an Institute Professor at MIT and also Associate Provost for Faculty Equity. Her research interests include distributed systems, programming methodology, programming languages, and replication algorithms to provide fault-tolerance. Her current research projects include Byzantine-fault-tolerant storage systems, and online storage systems that provide confidentiality and integrity for the stored information.

Prof Liskov is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Association for Computing Machinery, and a Charter Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. She received a lifetime achievement award from the Society of Women Engineers in 1996, the IEEE Von Neumann Medal in 2004, the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Language Achievement Award in 2008, and the ACM Turing Award in 2009. In 2003 Discover magazine named her one of the fifty most important women in science.