Lockheed Martin Distinguished Speaker Series

How Algorithms Are Shaping Our Lives

Dr. Alfred V. Aho

Lawrence Gussman Professor Emeritus of Computer Science, Columbia University

1:00-2:00pm Thursday, 17 October 2019, ITE 104, UMBC

Dr. Aho will explain what algorithms are and how they have evolved over several millennia. Algorithms are now shaping all aspects of our lives from healthcare to jobs to entertainment. Good algorithms can enrich our lives and unfortunately, bad algorithms can wreak havoc. An important societal question concerning algorithms arises. Should we regulate algorithms so they don’t totally distort our lives, and if so, how should we do it? The fundamental nature of algorithms makes this an unusually difficult challenge.

Alfred Aho joined the Department of Computer Science at Columbia in 1995 and served as Chair of the department from 1995 to 1997, and again in the spring of 2003. He has a B.A.Sc. in Engineering Physics from the University of Toronto and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science from Princeton University.

Professor Aho won the Great Teacher Award for 2003 from the Society of Columbia Graduates. In 2014 he was again recognized for teaching excellence by winning the Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award from the Columbia Engineering Alumni Association. He has received the IEEE John von Neumann Medal and is a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He shared the 2017 C&C prize with John Hopcroft and Jeff Ullman. He has received honorary doctorates from the Universities of Helsinki, Toronto and Waterloo, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ACM, Bell Labs, and IEEE.

Professor Aho is a co-inventor of AWK, a widely used pattern-matching language. He also wrote the initial versions of the UNIX string pattern-matching utilities egrep and fgrep; fgrep was the first widely used implementation of what is now called the Aho-Corasick algorithm. His research interests include programming languages, compilers, algorithms, software engineering, and quantum computation.