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John Cocke

John Cocke

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John Cocke was an American computer scientist
Computer scientist
A computer scientist is a scientist who has acquired knowledge of computer science, the study of the theoretical foundations of information and computation and their application in computer systems....

 recognized for his large contribution to computer architecture
Computer architecture
In computer science and engineering, computer architecture is the practical art of selecting and interconnecting hardware components to create computers that meet functional, performance and cost goals and the formal modelling of those systems....

 and optimizing compiler
A compiler is a computer program that transforms source code written in a programming language into another computer language...

 design. He is considered by many to be "the father of RISC architecture."

He attended Duke University
Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B...

, where he received his Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

 in Mechanical Engineering in 1946 and his Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in Mathematics in 1953. Cocke spent his entire career as an industrial researcher for IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

, from 1956 to 1992.

Perhaps the project where his innovations were most noted was in the IBM 801
IBM 801
The 801 was an experimental minicomputer designed by IBM. The resulting architecture was used in various roles in IBM until the 1980s. The 801 was started as a pure research project led by John Cocke in October 1975 at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center. The name 801 comes from the building the...

 minicomputer, where his realization that matching the design of the architecture's instruction set to the relatively simple instructions actually emitted by compilers could allow high performance at a low cost.

He is one of the inventors of CYK algorithm
CYK algorithm
The Cocke–Younger–Kasami algorithm is a parsing algorithm for context-free grammars. It employs bottom-up parsing and dynamic programming....

 (C for Cocke).

Cocke won the Eckert-Mauchly Award
Eckert-Mauchly Award
The Eckert–Mauchly Award recognizes contributions to digital systems and computer architecture. First awarded in 1979, it was named for John Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly, who between 1943 and 1946 collaborated on the design and construction of the first large scale electronic computing...

 in 1985, ACM Turing Award
Turing Award
The Turing Award, in full The ACM A.M. Turing Award, is an annual award given by the Association for Computing Machinery to "an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community. The contributions should be of lasting and major technical importance to the...

 in 1987, the National Medal of Technology
National Medal of Technology
The National Medal of Technology and Innovation is an honor granted by the President of the United States to American inventors and innovators who have made significant contributions to the development of new and important technology...

 in 1991 and the National Medal of Science
National Medal of Science
The National Medal of Science is an honor bestowed by the President of the United States to individuals in science and engineering who have made important contributions to the advancement of knowledge in the fields of behavioral and social sciences, biology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics and...

 in 1994, The Franklin Institute's Certificate of Merit in 1996, the Seymour Cray Computer Science and Engineering Award in 1999, and the The Benjamin Franklin Medal in 2000.

He was born in Charlotte
Charlotte, North Carolina
Charlotte is the largest city in the U.S. state of North Carolina and the seat of Mecklenburg County. In 2010, Charlotte's population according to the US Census Bureau was 731,424, making it the 17th largest city in the United States based on population. The Charlotte metropolitan area had a 2009...

, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 and died in Valhalla
Valhalla, New York
Valhalla is an unincorporated hamlet and census-designated place that is located within the town of Mount Pleasant, New York, in Westchester County. Its population was 3,162 at the 2010 U.S. Census...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...


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