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
..... Click the link for more information.
, 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).

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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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
In Admiral Hopper's opinion, the greatest obstacle to innovation is taking the stance, "We've always done it this way"--and heaven help anyone who uttered that thought in her presence.
Admiral Hopper theorized that a wider audience could use the computer if it could be made both programmer-friendly and application-friendly.
To illustrate her ideas, Admiral Hopper often used analogies and examples that have become legendary.
"I can think of no better way to honor Rear Admiral Hopper's achievements specific to our cyber program and new cyber building's function than to name the new building in her honor," said Carter.
By December 1983 she was promoted to commodore, and two years later the rank of commodore was combined with rear admiral and she became Rear Admiral Hopper.
Obtaining her doctorate in mathematics at a time when such academic achievements were not the usual experience for American women, Admiral Hopper was eventually elevated to her Navy rank by a specific honor from the Congress of the United States because of her genius, dedication, forward thinking, and unprecedented discoveries.
The reflections and contributions of Admiral Hopper can be found today throughout our information industry.
The many contributions of Admiral Hopper are well discussed in Kurt Beyer's 2009 work published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Grace Hopper and the Invention of the Information Age.
More famously, Admiral Hopper had a strong belief in decentralized management--a process of dispersing decision-making governance closer to the users of software applications.
The good news is that cost-effective solutions envisioned by Admiral Hopper with her teams of oxen analogy (i.e., teams of more processors) have recently arrived on the scene.
Tobin, who attended the dedication, said, "Once I was selected to be the Director of Navy Information Systems, I was hoping that I would somehow have a chance to visit with Rear Admiral Hopper. As fate would have it, Rear Admiral Harry Quast and I had dinner with her in Pittsburgh during my second week on the job.
Admiral Hopper had an abundance of both qualities, and on top of that she had an abiding love for the U.S.