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Obituary: Edmund M. Clarke, CMU Professor who Won Computer Science’s Nobel Prize Equivalent

By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

December 29, 2020

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Edmund M. Clarke, a professor emeritus at Carnegie Mellon University who won computer science's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, died Tuesday of COVID-19 after a long illness. He was 75.

Mr. Clarke, of Mt. Lebanon, was best known for his work in model checking, an automated method for detecting design errors in computer hardware and software. 

CMU president Farnam Jahanian said the world had "lost a giant in computer science" with Mr. Clarke's death. 

"Ed's pioneering work in model checking applied formal computational methods to the ultimate challenge: computers checking their own correctness," Mr. Jahanian said in a statement. "As systems become ever more complex, we are just beginning to see the wide-reaching and long-term benefits of Ed's insights, which will continue to inspire researchers and practitioners for years to come."

In the early 1980s, Mr. Clarke and his Harvard University graduate student, E. Allen Emerson — as well as Joseph Sifakis of the University of Grenoble, who was working separately — developed model checking, which has helped to improve the reliability of complex computer chips, systems and networks.

For their work, the Association for Computing Machinery gave the three scientists the prestigious A.M. Turing Award — computer science's Nobel Prize — in 2007.


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