The Magic and Beauty of Computer Science

Peter Denning

Peter Denning is a Distinguished Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He chairs the Computer Science Department and directs the Cebrowski Institute, an interdisciplinary research center for innovation and information superiority. In the 1990s he was at George Mason University, where he was vice provost, associate dean, CS department chair, and founder of the Center for the New Engineer. In the 1980s, he was the founding director of the Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science at NASA-Ames, and was co-founder of CSNET.

He received a PhD from MIT and BEE from Manhattan College. He was president of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) 1980-82. As chair of the ACM publications board 1992-98, he was project leader for the ACM digital library, now the ACM's crown jewel. In 1967 he discovered the locality principle for referencing storage objects and used it to invent the influential working set model for program behavior; his original paper was named to the ACM SIGOPS Hall of Fame in 2005. He helped establish virtual memory as a permanent part of operating systems. He contributed important extensions to operational analysis, an approach to computer system performance prediction.

He leads the Great Principles of Computing Project, which is identifying the scientific theories of computing and applying them to curriculum innovation. He also co-leads an Innovation Project that has identified and teaches the seven foundational practices of innovation. He has published 7 books and 315 articles on computers, networks, and their operating systems. He is working on two more books, one on the foundational practices of innovation and the other on the great principles of computing. In 2002, he was named one of the top 5 best teachers at George Mason University and the best teacher in the School of Information Technology and Engineering.

In 2003, he received one of Virginia's 10 outstanding faculty awards. He holds three honorary degrees, three professional society fellowships, two best-paper awards, three distinguished service awards, the ACM Outstanding Contribution Award, the ACM SIGCSE Outstanding CS Educator Award, and the prestigious ACM Karl Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award. In 2007 ACM gave him a special award for 40 years of continuous volunteer service and the NSF gave him one of two Distinguished Education Fellow awards.