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First Van Wijngaarden Awards for Lynch and Diaconis
Computer scientist Nancy Lynch and mathematician-magician Persi Diaconis were awarded the first two Van Wijngaarden Awards during the celebration of CWI's 60th anniversary on February 9, 2006. Some 250 guests - scientists, alumni and other relations of CWI - enjoyed the evening in the Oude Lutherse Kerk in Amsterdam.
Nancy Lynch (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA) is famous for her pioneering and leading work in distributed computing, especially the impossibility of consensus. Persi Diaconis (Stanford University) captivated the audience with facts on the statistics of tossing coins. He was praised for his deep insights in mathematics combined with a practical mind. For the occasion the Mondriaan Kwartet played the String Quartet no 1 in C Major. This piece was composed by a computer program, written in ALGOL 60 by Lambert Meertens on the Electrologica X8 computer of the Mathematisch Centrum as early as in 1968.
The Van Wijngaarden Award is named after Aad van Wijngaarden (1916-1987), one of the founding fathers of computer science in the Netherlands and former director of the Mathematisch Centrum (now CWI). It consists of a bronze sculpture and will be presented every five years.