Last month, three luminaries of the computer science and computer programming died within days of each other: Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard, both of Norway, and Edsger Wybe Dijkstra, of the Netherlands. Just this year, Dahl and Nygaard together received the A.M. Turing Award and the IEEE John von Neuman Medal. Dijkstra was a previous recipient of the A.M. Turing Award, as well as the IEEE Computer Society's Harry M. Goode Memorial Award and the Computer Pioneer Award.
Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard created object-oriented computer programming, the programming model of choice for many modern applications. The Simula languages they developed during the 1960s provide the underlying logic for many languages in use today, including C++ and Java. Their pioneering work changed how software systems are designed, resulting in reusable, reliable and scalable program applications.
Edsger W. Dijkstra is best known for establishing that mathematical logic must be the basis for computer program construction and for his contributions to programming methodology. He was responsible for the idea of building operating systems as explicitly synchronized sequential processes, and developed the stack model of computation.
Dijkstra led the movement to abolish the GOTO statement from programming. His 1968 article in Communications of the ACM, "Go To Statement considered Harmful" http://www.acm.org/classics/oct95/, is one of the most famous (and succinct!) articles in all of computing literature.
All were known for their wit, warmth, vitality, and generosity, in addition to their genius. Their guiding lights will be missed.