Mathematician Sara van de Geer and computer scientist Xavier Leroy receive the Van Wijngaarden Award 2016 on Wednesday 2 November 2016. This prize is awarded on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of CWI. The award is intended for scientists who contributed significantly to their field and is awarded once every five years. This year marks a special edition of the award ceremony, as the 100th anniversary of Adriaan van Wijngaarden, computer pioneer and the person the award is named after, is celebrated.
Sara van de Geer is a Dutch mathematician interested in statistics and statistical learning theory. She works as a professor at the department of mathematics at ETH Zürich and is currently president of the Bernouilli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability. She was one of the early pioneers in applying the theory of empirical process theory (a branch of probability theory) in statistics.
Xavier Leroy is a senior research scientist at Inria where he leads the Gallium research team. His research focuses on programming languages and tools, and on the formal verification of software using program proof and static analysis. He is the architect and one of the main developers of the OCaml functional programming language and of CompCert formally-verified C compiler.
The Van Wijngaarden Award is named after Adriaan van Wijngaarden (1916–1987), who on 2 November was born exactly 100 years ago. Van Wijngaarden was head of the calculation department of the Mathematical Center and was directly involved in the introduction of the computer in the Netherlands. He has been of invaluable importance for CWI and the evolution of the computer in our country. Van Wijngaarden also laid the foundation for all contemporary mainstream computer languages and is considered being one of the founders of computer science in the Netherlands. Later, he was director of the Mathematical Center (1961-1980), the institute currently named CWI.
The Van Wijngaarden Award ceremony is one of the festivities in the Van Wijngaarden Year 2016. CWI also organizes the CWI Lectures on Adriaan van Wijngaarden and his legacy on 3 November, and hosts a special exhibition of historical computer hardware. The insitute also published a book on the history of the first Dutch computers.
It is the third time the Van Wijngaarden Award is awarded. Previous awards went to Nancy Lynch and Persi Diaconis (2006), and Éva Tardos and John Butcher (2011). The Van Wijngaarden Award consists of a bronze sculpture by Hanneke van den Bergh.