Brian Kernighan Biography

Brian Wilson Kernighan is a computer scientist from Canada. He worked at Nokia Bell labs. This is an American industrial research and scientific development company owned by a multinational company Nokia. He contributed to the development of UNIX with Ken Thomson and Dennis Ritchie. Brian Kernighan worked as co-author with Dennis Ritchie on the book The C Programming Language. Brian became famous through this C programming book.

Brian wrote many programs for Unix, including ditroff. Brian Kernighan is also coauthor of AWK which is a domain-specific language and AMPL which is a mathematical programming language. The K in AWK stands for “Kernighan”. Brian Kernighan formulated the famous heuristics for two NP-complete optimization problems: graph partitioning and traveling salesman problem with the help of Shen Lin. Later it was known as Lin-Kernighan heuristic.

Brian Kernighan Biography

Brian Kernighan currently working as a professor of computer science at Princeton University since 2000 and director of undergraduate studies in the department of computer science. Brian coauthored the book on the GO programming language in the year 2015.

Early Life

Brian was born on 1 January 1942 in Toronto. Brian enrolled in the university of Toronto from 1960 to 1964 and earned his engineering physics bachelor’s degree. In 1969 Brian received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in electrical engineering. He got his Ph.D. under the supervision of Peter G. Weiner by finishing a doctoral dissertation named “Some graph partitioning problems related to program segmentation”.

Career and Research

Brian Kernighan has served as a professor at Princeton University in the department of computer science from the year 2000. Every autumn Brian explains and teaches “Computers in our world,” course. It introduces the basic of computing to non-majors. Brian was the software editor of an American major educational publisher Prentice Hall International. Brian’s “software tools” series spread the basis of “C/Unix thinking” makeovers for BASIC, Pascal, Fortran and in particular, his Rational Fortran was placed in the public domain.

Brian Kernighan once said if abandoned on any island with one language it would be C language. Brian invented the term “Unix” and also helped to popularize Thomson’s Unix philosophy. Brian is known as the inventor of the term “What you see is all you get” (WYSIAYG), a satirical form of original term “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG).

In the year 1972, Brian Kernighan explained memory management in strings with the help of “hello” and “world”, in B language. It became an iconic example of the present time. Brian taught CS50 in 1996, It was the introductory course of computer science at Harvard University. In 2002, he was elected as a member of the National academy of engineering, and in 2019 elected a member of the American academy of arts and sciences.

Some Achievements

  • Developed AMPL programming language which is an algebraic modeling language.
  • Developed AWK programming language which is a domain specific language.
  • Developed ditroff which allowed troff to be used with any device.
  • Written first documented “Hello, world!” program.

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