Dr. Lamport received a doctorate in mathematics from Brandeis University. An unlikely chain of events led to his current position as distinguished researcher at Microsoft. His initial research in concurrent algorithms made him well-known as the author of LaTeX, a document formatting system for the ever-diminishing class of people who write formulas instead of drawing pictures. He has received five honorary doctorates from European universities, but has always returned home to California. This display of patriotism was rewarded with membership in the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences–as well as an honorary doctorate from Brandeis. Dr. Lamport now annoys computer scientists and engineers by urging them to understand an algorithm or system before implementing it, and scares them by saying they should use mathematics. In a vain attempt to get him to talk about other things, the ACM gave him the 2013 Turing Award.

Research Interests

My research interests stem from an interest in concurrency. Concurrency includes multiprocess algorithms and distributed algorithms--especially fault-tolerant ones. It also includes fundamental questions of how independent entities communicate and synchronize their activities. The difficulty of avoiding errors in concurrent algorithms and systems led to my interest in rigorously specifying and checking their correctness.

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Primary Section

Section 34: Computer and Information Sciences