Grace Hopper

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Hopper, Grace,

1906–92, American computer scientist, b. New York City as Grace Brewster Murray. She was educated at Vassar College and Yale (Ph.D., 1934). After teaching at Vassar (1931–1943), she joined the U.S. Naval Reserve, serving on active duty until 1946. Assigned to the Bureau of Ordnance's computation project at Harvard, she worked on the Mark series of computers. At the conclusion of World War II she began her search for a means of making computer programs easier to write. Her answer was the compiler, a specialized program that translates instructions written in a programming language into the binary coding of machine language. In 1952 she unveiled the A-0 compiler, and Hopper began working on a compiler oriented to business tasks. In 1955 she introduced FLOW-MATIC, which became the prototype for the first commercially successful business-oriented programming languageprogramming language,
syntax, grammar, and symbols or words used to give instructions to a computer. Development of Low-Level Languages

All computers operate by following machine language programs, a long sequence of instructions called machine code that is
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, COBOL. Hopper returned to active duty with the Navy in 1967, charged with leading the effort to combine various versions of COBOL into USA Standard COBOL. She retired in 1986 with the rank of rear admiral.


See biography by K. W. Beyer (2009).

Grace Hopper

US Navy Rear Admiral Grace Brewster Hopper (1906-12-09 to 1992-01-01), n?e Grace Brewster Murray.

Hopper is believed to have concieved the concept of the compiler with the A-0 in 1952. She also developed the first commercial high-level language, which eventually evolved into COBOL. She worked on the Mark I computer with Howard Aiken and with BINAC in 1949.

She is credited with having coined the term "debug", and the adage "it is always easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission" (with various wordings), which has been the guiding principle in sysadmin decisions ever since.

See also the entries debug and bug.

Hopper is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In 1994, the US Navy named a new ship, the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper, after her.