Brooks honored with Harvard Centennial Medal

Frederick P. Brooks, who founded UNC’s computer science department, recently received the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal from Harvard University.

Harvard’s Centennial Medal was first given in June 1989 on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Graduate School .The medal is awarded for “contributions to society as they have emerged from one’s graduate education at Harvard.” Brooks, the Kenan Professor of Computer Science, was one of four 2007 recipients.

A pioneer in computer science, Brooks worked as a graduate student under Howard Aiken, the inventor of the early Harvard computers. He later joined IBM, where he worked during the 1950s and 1960s. He was the project manager for the development of IBM’s System/360 family of computers and the Operating System/360 software. For this work he received a National Medal of Technology in 1985 jointly with Bob O. Evans and Erich Bloch of IBM.

In 1964, Brooks founded UNC’s computer science department and chaired it for 20 years. Brooks’ principal research is in real-time, three-dimensional computer graphics or “virtual reality.” His research has helped biochemists solve the structure of complex molecules and enabled architects to “walk through” structures still being designed.

Brooks earned his Ph.D. in applied mathematics (computer science) from Harvard in 1956.

Web site: More about the 2007 Centennial Medal winners.

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