Barbara Liskov is a computer scientist who was born and raised in Los Angeles, California before moving to Berkeley to attend the University of California for her bachelor’s degree in mathematics. After obtaining her degree, she moved to Boston and worked at the Mitre Corporation. This career choice altered her interests from mathematics to computers and programming. While Liskov originally had debated pursuing a graduate degree in mathematics, her time at Mitre Corporation changed her mind. She left Mitre after a year and began working in language translation at Harvard. This led her to apply to graduate programs in computer science, and she ultimately became one of the first women in the United States to be awarded a PhD from Stanford University in computer science.
Once she obtained her PhD, Liskov went back to Mitre to work as a research staff member. During this time, she was involved in many projects relating to new computer systems and programs. She supported the design and start-up of CLU (a programming language), contributed to the Venus operating system, Argus, and Thor. She also developed, in collaboration with Jeannette Wing, the Liskov substitution principle, which is a particular definition of subtyping. Currently, Liskov is the Ford Professor of Engineering at MIT, where she leads the programming methodology group and research focused on Byzantine fault tolerance and distributed computing. Throughout her life, Liskov has won many awards and is a member of several internationally recognized societies. In 2002, Liskov was recognized as among the top 50 faculty members in the sciences as well as one of the 50 most important women in science. She received the John von Neumann Medal and the Turing Award for her work in programming languages, methodology, and distributed systems. In 2012, she was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
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