Turing Award Winner, Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research

Leslie Lamport is a computer scientist and mathematician. He received the 2013 Turing Award for his fundamental contributions to the theory and practice of distributed and concurrent systems.

## Biography

# Leslie Lamport

## Early Life and Education

Leslie B. Lamport was born on February 7, 1941, in New York City, into a Jewish family. His father, Benjamin Lamport, was an immigrant from Volkovisk in the Russian Empire, now Vawkavysk, Belarus. His mother, Hannah Lamport (née Lasser), hailed from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, now southeastern Poland. Lamport graduated from the Bronx High School of Science and went on to earn a B.S. in Mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1960. He later received both an M.A. (1963) and a Ph.D. (1972) in Mathematics from Brandeis University. His doctoral dissertation was titled "The analytic Cauchy problem with singular data."

## Career and Research

Leslie Lamport's professional career began at Massachusetts Computer Associates, where he worked as a computer scientist from 1970 to 1977. He then joined SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute), serving from 1977 to 1985. From 1985 to 2001, Lamport was with Digital Equipment Corporation and Compaq. In 2001, he joined Microsoft Research in California.

### Contributions to Distributed Systems

Lamport's seminal work in distributed systems has laid the groundwork for the field. His most notable papers include:

**"Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System"**: This paper introduced the concept of logical clocks and the happened-before relationship. It received the Principles of Distributed Computing (PODC) Influential Paper Award in 2000 (PODC Award).**"How to Make a Multiprocessor Computer That Correctly Executes Multiprocess Programs"**: This work defined the notion of sequential consistency.**"The Byzantine Generals' Problem"**: This paper addressed Byzantine fault tolerance, a critical concept in distributed computing.**"Distributed Snapshots: Determining Global States of a Distributed System"**: This paper introduced the Chandy–Lamport algorithm for consistent global states.**"The Part-Time Parliament"**: This paper described the Paxos algorithm for achieving consensus in a distributed system.

These contributions have significantly improved the correctness, performance, and reliability of distributed systems.

### Development of LaTeX

In the early 1980s, while working on a personal book project, Lamport developed a set of macros based on Donald Knuth's TeX typesetting system. This set of macros became known as LaTeX. In 1983, Peter Gordon from Addison-Wesley approached Lamport to turn the LaTeX user manual into a book. Lamport released the first version of LaTeX in 1984 and subsequently authored "LaTeX: A Document Preparation System," which became widely popular.

In 1989, Lamport handed over the maintenance and development of LaTeX to Frank Mittelbach and his team, who released LaTeX2e in 1994, the current version of LaTeX (LaTeX History).

### Temporal Logic and TLA+

Lamport is also known for his work in temporal logic, introducing the Temporal Logic of Actions (TLA). He developed TLA+ as a language for specifying and reasoning about concurrent and reactive systems. His book, "Specifying Systems: The TLA+ Language and Tools for Hardware and Software Engineers," describes TLA+ in detail (TLA+).

## Awards and Honors

Leslie Lamport has received numerous awards and honors for his contributions:

**Turing Award (2013)**: Recognized for his fundamental contributions to distributed and concurrent systems (Turing Award).**National Academy of Engineering (1991)**: Elected for his contributions to concurrent and fault-tolerant computing.**ACM Fellow (2014)**: For contributions to distributed and concurrent systems (ACM Fellows).**IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award (2004)**(IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award).**Dijkstra Prize (2000, 2005, 2014)**: For influential papers in distributed computing (Dijkstra Prize).

Lamport also holds honorary doctorates from several European universities, including the University of Rennes, Christian Albrechts University of Kiel, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), University of Lugano, and Nancy-Université.

His extensive body of work has made him one of the most influential figures in computer science, particularly in the fields of distributed systems and document preparation systems.

## Career Timeline

## Career Timeline

**1960**: Earned B.S. in Mathematics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MIT**1963**: Received M.A. in Mathematics from Brandeis University Brandeis University**1970-1977**: Worked as a computer scientist at Massachusetts Computer Associates Massachusetts Computer Associates**1972**: Received Ph.D. in Mathematics from Brandeis University Brandeis University**1977-1985**: Joined SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) SRI International**1985-2001**: Worked at Digital Equipment Corporation and Compaq Digital Equipment Corporation**1984**: Released the first version of LaTeX LaTeX**1991**: Elected to the National Academy of Engineering National Academy of Engineering**2000**: Received the PODC Influential Paper Award PODC**2001**: Joined Microsoft Research in California Microsoft Research**2004**: Received the IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award IEEE**2013**: Awarded the ACM Turing Award ACM**2014**: Elected ACM Fellow ACM**2014**: Received the Dijkstra Prize for the third time Dijkstra Prize