Bob Harper receives ACM SIGPLAN Achievement Award
Bob Harper, an MPI-SWS external scientific member, has received the 2021 ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award—the most significant international career award in programming languages. He received the award for his „foundational contributions to our understanding of type theory and its use in the design, specification, implementation, and verification of modern programming languages“.
Robert (Bob) Harper is widely known for his foundational contributions to our understanding of type theory and its use in the design, specification, implementation, and verification of modern programming languages. Bob demonstrated that sound type systems and operational semantics are not only appropriate vehicles for reasoning about idealized languages, but that this theory can be applied to complex, modern languages. His achievements include analysis of language features ranging from references to continuations to modules, the definition of a variety of new type systems, the idea of using types throughout the compilation process, the analysis of run-time system semantics and cost, a formal definition of Standard ML and its mechanization, the definition of logical framework LF and other logical frameworks based on homotopy type theory.
Some of Bob’s most influential work involved the design, theory and implementation of the TIL (Typed Intermediate Language) compiler system, which pioneered the idea that compilers can propagate type information to lower-level intermediate languages, where it can be used to guide optimizations and to catch compiler bugs. These ideas led directly to the development of proof-carrying code, typed assembly language, and a wide array of type-preserving compilers.
Bob Harper has also had a profound impact though his mentorship, teaching and the influence of his books “Programming in Standard ML” and “Practical Foundations for Programming Languages.”