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Notable Software Engineers

Who are the most notable software engineers? The following distinguished colleagues can be expected to pop up in many responses and are definitely inspiring role models to be aware of as a software engineer:

NameClaim to Fame
Anders HejlsbergTurbo Pascal, Delphi, C#
Augusta Ada King / Ada LovelaceContributions to Babbage’s Analytical Engine
Bjarne StroustroupC++
Brian KernighanUNIX
Dennis RitchieB, C, UNIX, Turing Award
Donald KnuthArt of Programming, TeX
Guido van RossumPython
James GoslingJava
Jeff DeanContributions to TensorFlow, BigTable and MapReduce
John Carmack3D Engine, VR
Ken ThompsonUNIX
Konrad ZuseBuilt first modern computer and first high-level language for a computer (Plankalkül)
Linus TorvaldsLinux, Git
Niklaus Emil WirthPascal, general software engineering
Robert Cecil MartinAgile Manifesto, software design principles
Steve WozniakApple
Tim Berners-LeeWWW

Out of these engineers, I probably most identify with Jeff Dean, since I admire both how many groundbreaking engineering solutions he developed – AdSense, Google crawler, DistBelief and Tensorflow, MapReduce, Spanner, and BigTable to name a few – as well as how effortlessly he moved between disciplines, e.g., between research and product – he is primarily perceived as an engineer, yet also reached an h-index of over 90 – as well as between his infrastructure and machine learning work. From being essential to Google’s success from when he joined the company in 1999 over being an early member of Google Brain up to becoming an SVP and the lead of Google AI his career is an impressive tale of engineering leadership. If you would like to know more about him: The New Yorker published a fascinating article about him in 2018 (backup: Google Cache) which evolves around his close work relationship with Sanjay Ghemawat. His external eminence is reflected in various honors and awards including that he is an ACM Fellow (in addition, he won both the ACM-Infosys Foundation award and the ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award), Fellow of the AAA&S as well as a member of the NAE.

Fun fact: I gave the same answer when a while ago someone asked on Twitter who currently inspires us most in the technology sphere and got a nod back from him – nice gesture.

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