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ACM Group Honors Software Developer of Versatile Compilers Used in Advanced Mobile Devices

First-Time SIGPLAN Award to Apple's Chris Lattner for Developing Popular LLVM Infrastructure with Applications in Commercial, Research, Teaching, and Open Source Projects

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold
[email protected]

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NEW YORK, June 7, 2010 – The ACM Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN  today presents its first-ever Programming Languages Software Award to Chris Lattner of Apple Inc. for his design and development of the Low Level Virtual Machine (LLVM), a compiler infrastructure that has been quickly adopted by a wide array of industry and academic organizations. Since LLVM’s release as an open source compiler infrastructure in October 2003, companies including Apple, Adobe, and Cray have incorporated it into their commercial products, reflecting its simplicity, flexibility, and versatility.  Lattner joined Apple, Inc. in 2005, and is currently the chief architect of the Apple Compiler Group.  He is to receive the award at the 2010 Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI) conference in Toronto, Canada, June 5 to 10.   

             Lattner and Vikram Adve initially developed LLVM as a novel research infrastructure when Lattner was a member of Adve's research group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).  Lattner went on to extend it into a powerful, widely adopted commercial-quality product.  LLVM was released as an open source infrastructure in October 2003, and has since enjoyed popular adoption in the academic, commercial and open source worlds. Adve observed that Lattner’s talent as a compiler architect, together with his programming skills, technical vision, and leadership ability were crucial to the success of LLVM.

            As the primary author of the LLVM Compiler Infrastructure, Lattner set out to build a system of reusable compiler components that enable software engineers to build other tools, ranging from compilers, dubbers, Just-in-Time systems, and optimizers, to static analysis systems and software verification tools.  In its current form, LLVM is most often used as an aggressive optimizer for C and C++, which can produce a variety of microprocessors, including X86, Power PC, Sparc, ARM, and Alpha, among others.  LLVM has also produced several sub-projects such as Clang, the C language family front end compiler that works quickly and effectively to make it easier to map errors back into the original source.   

            In addition to its commercial applications, LLVM has achieved significant success in its original goal of providing research infrastructure for a large and growing number of institutions.  In 2009, for example, authors not associated with UIUC, where LLVM was developed, published papers using LLVM in a wide array of international conferences on programming, operating systems, software development, information and computer science, design automation and compilers.  It has also been used for teaching at prominent institutions including Carnegie Mellon University, the University of California at Los Angeles, UIUC, and the University of Utah as well as the University of New South Wales in Australia, Anna University in India, and Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay.        

            Lattner received his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from UIUC and his B.S. degree from the University of Portland.  Before beginning work on compilers, he was an operating system developer and is the author of the Operating Systems Resource Center, a collection of technical documentation applicable to writing operating systems.  

            The SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award recognizes the development of a software system that has had a significant impact on programming language research, implementations, and tools. The award includes a prize of $2,500, and Lattner has indicated his intention to donate the funds to the LLVM general fund at UIUC.


About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.  



SIGPLAN, the ACM Special Interest Group Programming Languages explores the design, implementation, theory, and efficient use of programming languages and associated tools. Its members are programming language users, developers, implementers, theoreticians, researchers and educators.

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