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ACM Honors Maurice Herlihy On His 60th Birthday

It’s not the number of years, it’s what Brown Computer Science Professor Maurice Herlihy has accomplished during them.

“Transactional memory and combinatorial topology are really, really far apart!” comments his colleague, Professor Shriram Krishnamurthi. “Maurice has had accomplishments that can safely be called career-making in three or four different fields. Someone who had achieved even just one of them would be considered a master of the area.

On July 15, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) celebrated those accomplishments and honored Herlihy with a 60th Birthday Celebration in Paris at the ACM Symposium on Principles of Distributed Computing.

“It was wonderful to be back there!” Maurice says. “I spent a year in Paris at age sixteen, and now I’m sixty, so there’s a nice resonance.”

The celebration was organized by two of his colleagues, Professor Hagit Attiya of Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, and Professor Rachid Guerraoui of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The agenda included two workshops, multiple invited lectures, personal reminiscences by Herlihy and his colleagues, and a reception.

“They even dug up embarrassing pictures from my childhood!” laughs Maurice. Other topics included retrospectives and anticipated future trends in transactional memory, use of topology to understand distributed computing, data structures, and parallel computing. The talks addressed theory as well as practice, and in total, there were more than eighteen presenters.

Shriram is unsurprised by the panoply of international colleagues: “Maurice is a brilliant scientist who has maintained numerous friendships and a wicked sense of humor throughout the years. This celebration demonstrates not just professional respect but the tremendous affection that the community has for him.”

“This was such a pleasure because I like seeing my colleagues happy,” says Maurice. “It was a chance to bond with a great group of people, and I’m so grateful to my family and friends for their perspective on my work. When we started out, concurrent architectures and parallel machines didn’t exist. All of this was science fiction.”