Oral history of British science
Hoare, Tony (Part 15 of 15). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee’s home, Cambridge
Hoare, Charles Antony Richard, 1934- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 15: Remarks on working at Microsoft [MS] from 1999: early impressions, previously working there on a sabbatical; welcome by Simon Payton Jones and offer to co-author paper; patent application; joint publications; advantages of working at Microsoft, minimal extra duties; visits to software development at Microsoft Redmond; keynote addresses; [05:00] working environment at MS offices; TH contributions to MS, anecdote about TH prize for most awards at recent lunch [07:00] Remarks on awards: Kyoto award, trip to Japan to receive award, visiting volcano and meeting Emperor; influential Turing award, spending prize money on an Apple computer, programming with son; recent ACM award and interview. [10:25] Remarks on: computer scientists TH admired, John McCarthy, Edsger Dijkstra, Robin Milner; anecdote about connections to previous Kyoto Award winners, Karl Popper, Van Orman Quine, Donald Knuth, John McCarthy, Maurice Wilkes, Noam Chomsky; Kyoto Prize for information technology. [12:40] Remarks on working for Microsoft and TH exploring how much MS programmers use assertions: high regard for MS programmers; discovering new uses for assertions in programming, such as use of assertions to verify assertion at compile time; description of use of simplified assumptions in software [18:00] Description of assertions: condition that is tested; people leaving assertions in to programs for future testing. [19:45] Remarks on: influence of working at MS on TH, differences between academic solutions and industry's problems, such as need to maintain and modify existing programs; anecdote about use of assertions in future proofing software. [22:00] Remarks on daily activities at MS: time consuming emails and contacting colleagues; writing references; preparing keynote addresses; talking to visitors; working with interns; freedom to pursue work; annual reviews and bonuses; enjoyment of working at MS; research and clever people; research colleagues in universities; TH different background from other MS researchers recruited in Cambridge tradition; anecdote about taking job to understand Robin Milner's work; [26:30] differences between Oxford and Cambridge, inspired by Edinburgh research approach of Robin Milner, Rod Burstall and Gordon Plotkin, Mike Gordon and Larry Paulson; differences between Cambridge/Edinburgh and Oxford traditions for computer science, TH always choosing different approaches to Robin Milner, formal and operational semantics; TH recent discovery of similarities between Hoare and Milner tripples. [31:10] Remarks on: no plans for retirement; long term view of work, changing views on algebra; anecdote about TH's billion dollar null-pointer reference mistake; [35:00] Remarks on: wider interest in science today, protecting science from attacks, computing's vulnerability to politics; education policy; TH planned book on great ideas in computing, such as logic, Euclid's elements, free will and determinism in programs; TH hopes to put uniform discoveries into use at MS. [42:25] Remarks on feelings about interview.
Interview with computer scientist Sir Tony Hoare.