Jim Horning received a PhD in computer science from Stanford University in 1969 for a thesis entitled A Study of Grammatical Inference. He was a founding member, and later chairman, of the Computer Systems Research Group at the University of Toronto, Canada, from 1969 until 1977. He was then a Research Fellow at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) from 1977 until 1984 and a founding member and senior consultant at DEC Systems Research Center (DEC/SRC) from 1984 until 1996. He was founder and director of STAR Lab from 1997 until 2001 at InterTrust Technologies Corp.
Horning's interests included programming languages, programming methodology, specification, formal methods, digital rights management and computer/network security. A major contribution was his involvement with the Larch approach to formal specification with John Guttag (MIT) et al.
Selected publications 
- A Compiler Generator (with W. M. Mckeeman and D. B. Wortman), Prentice Hall (1970). ISBN 0-13-155077-2.
- Larch, Languages and Tools for Formal Specification (with John V. Guttag, S.J. Garland, K.D. Jones, A. Modet, and J.M. Wing), Springer-Verlag Texts and Monographs in Computer Science (1993). ISBN 0-387-94006-5, ISBN 3-540-94006-5.
- Peter Denning, Jim Horning, David Parnas, and Lauren Weinstein, "Wikipedia risks", Communications of the ACM 48(12):152, December 2005. doi>10.1145/1349026.1349047
- "Nothing is as simple as we hope it will be."
- "Good judgement comes from experience, experience comes from bad judgement."
- "Jim Horning, Past ACM Awards Committee Co-Chair, Dies — Association for Computing Machinery". Acm.org. Retrieved 2013-01-24.
- "Risks Digest 27.14", Peter G. Neumann, 22 January 2013