Edsger Dijkstra

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Image of Edsger Dijkstra courtesy of Brian Randell.

Edsger Wybe Dijkstra (May 11, 1930 - August 6, 2002) was a Dutch computer scientist.

Dijkstra studied theoretical physics at the University of Leiden. He worked as a research fellow for Burroughs Corporation in the early 1970s. He held the Schlumberger Centennial Chair in Computer Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin, in the United States. He retired in 2000.

Among his contributions to computer science are the shortest path-algorithm, also known as Dijkstra's algorithm. He received the Turing Award in 1972.

He was known for his low opinion of the GOTO statement in computer programming, culminating in the 1968 article Go To Statement Considered Harmful, which is regarded as a major step towards the widespread deprecation of the GOTO statement, which was effectively replaced by control structures like the "while" loop, where a collection of commands are executed repeatedly while a certain statement evaluates as true. (The famous title of the paper was not the work of Dijkstra, but by Niklaus Wirth, editor of Communications of the ACM at the time.)

Edsger Dijkstra is frequently quoted about computer science, for example, "The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim," and "Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes." See also Edsger Dijkstra at Wikiquote.

He died on August 6, 2002 after a long struggle with cancer.

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