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Turing Lecture: The Computer Science of Concurrency: The Early Years

By Leslie Lamport

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 58 No. 6, Pages 71-76

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To Edsger Dijkstra

It is insufficiently considered that men more often require to be reminded than informed.—Samuel Johnson

I don't know if concurrency is a science, but it is a field of computer science. What I call concurrency has gone by many names, including parallel computing, concurrent programming, and multiprogramming. I regard distributed computing to be part of the more general topic of concurrency. I also use the name algorithm for what were once usually called programs and were generally written in pseudo-code.

This is a personal view of the first dozen years of the history of the field of concurrency—a view from today, based on 40 years of hindsight. It reflects my biased perspective, so despite covering only the very beginning of what was then an esoteric field, it is far from complete. The geneses of my own contributions are described in comments in my publications web page.


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