Women in Technology Hall of Fame

Fran Allen

Fran Allen

IBM Fellow, IBM

Inducted in 1997

Fran Allen is a pioneering computer scientist. She has made outstanding contributions to the field of programming languages for throughout her 45-year career. Her work significantly influenced the computer science community and has important foundations for other projects. Most of her work is in the field of optimizing compilers.

Her achievements involve work in compilers, code optimization, and parallelization. She also played a role in intelligence by working on security codes and programming languages for the National Security Agency.

Before her retirement in 2002, Fran was an IBM Fellow.

In the early 80s, she founded the Parallel TRANslation group to study the issues involved in compiling for parallel machines. Her work on these projects culminated in algorithms and technologies that form the basis for the theory of program optimization widely used in today's commercial compilers throughout the industry. During the 60s, she worked on compilers for IBM supercomputers for the United States National Security Agency.

Her start at IBM was teaching research scientists FORTRAN, a new, high-level language developed by IBM. Since the start of her career in 1957, Fran has made many achievements, including being named the president of the IBM Academy of Technology in 1995.

On top of her contributions to the computer science community, Fran earned an election to the United States National Academy of Engineering; the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery; the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and the American Philosophical Society.

In 2007, Fran was awarded the A.M. Turing award for her contribution to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques. She was the first woman to receive this award in its 40-year long history.

In honor of her success, IBM created a new PhD fellowship award.

Fran’s influence on the IBM community was also recognized in 2006 by her appointment as an IBM fellow, making Fran the first woman to receive this recognition. She was also president of the IBM Academy of Technology.

In addition to these accolades, Fran was also the 2004 winner of the ABIE Award for Technical Leadership from the Anita Borg Institute, the 2002 winner of the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award, and the 1997 winner of the IEEE Computer Society Charles Babbage Award.