Margaret Hamilton (scientist)
Margaret Hamilton (1995 photo)
|Occupation||Computer scientist and mathematician|
Margaret Hamilton (born 1938) is an American former NASA scientist, and founder and CEO of software development company Hamilton Technologies, Inc. At NASA she was Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, later the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, which played a key role in the success of the Apollo space program:
Moving from Indiana to Massachusetts for graduate studies, she instead was hired at MIT where she started her career as a software developer learning from hands on experience. Hamilton went on to become a Director in the Apollo project from which she won the NASA Exceptional Space Act Award for her scientific and technical contributions, and the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award by the Association of Women in Computing. In 1986 she became the founder and CEO of Hamilton Technologies, Inc in Cambridge, MA.
Margaret's current activities as of February 2010 include fulfilling her role as the founder and CEO of Hamilton Technologies, Inc., a business developed around the Universal Systems Language (USL) which is in turn based upon her Development Before The Fact (DBTF) paradigm for systems and software design.
In 1986 Hamilton was awarded the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award by the Association of Women in Computing. In 2003, she was granted a NASA Exceptional Space Act Award for her scientific and technical contributions and included with the award, Hamilton received a check for $37,200, the largest award to an individual in NASA's history.
At NASA Hamilton was responsible for helping pioneer the Apollo on-board guidance software required to navigate to/from and land on the moon, and its multiple variations used on numerous missions (including the subsequent Skylab). She worked to gain hands-on experience during a time when computer science and software engineering courses or disciplines were non-existent.
In the process, she produced innovations in the fields of system design and software development, enterprise and process modeling, preventative systems design, development paradigm, formal systems (and software) modeling languages, system-oriented objects for systems modeling and development, automated life-cycle environments, methods for maximizing software reliability and reuse, domain analysis, correctness by built-in language properties, open-architecture techniques for robust systems, full life-cycle automation, quality assurance, seamless integration (including systems to software), distributed processing systems, error detection and recovery techniques, man/machine interface systems, operating systems, end-to-end testing techniques, and life-cycle management techniques.
These in turn led her to develop concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, and man-in-the-loop decision capability, which became the foundation for modern, ultra-reliable software design.
The end-result was famously attributed with preventing an abort of the Apollo 11 mission. just three minutes before it reached the moon's surface. Due to its robust architecture, the computer was able to keep running, even in the face of an overload of incoming data (ultimately traced to a radar system whose 'on' switch had been erroneously activated, because of a faulty checklist provided to the crew).
Hamilton is credited for coining the term “software engineering”. In this field she pionered the concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, end-to-end testing, and man-in-the-loop decision capability, such as priority displays which then became the foundation for ultra reliable software design.
The surrounding contextual setting for her developments was one in which computer science and software engineering were not yet disciplines; instead learning was done on the job with hands on experience. Margaret rose through the ranks by gaining experience and contributing towards uncharted territory in space science.
Margaret Hamilton has published 130 papers, proceedings and reports concerned with the 60 projects and 6 major programs in which she has been involved. A selection:
- M. Hamilton, S. Zeldin (1976) "Higher order software—A methodology for defining software" IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, vol. SE-2, no. 1, Mar. 1976.
- M. Hamilton (1994), “Inside Development Before the Fact,” cover story, Editorial Supplement, 8ES-24ES. Electronic Design, Apr. 1994.
- M. Hamilton, Hackler, W.R.. (2004), Deeply Integrated Guidance Navigation Unit (DI-GNU) Common Software Architecture Principles (revised dec-29-04), DAAAE30-02-D-1020 and DAAB07-98-D-H502/0180, Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, 2003-2004.
- M. Hamilton and W.R. M. Hackler (2007), “Universal Systems Language for Preventative Systems Engineering,” Proc. 5th Ann. Conf. Systems Eng. Res. (CSER), Stevens Institute of Technology, Mar. 2007, paper #36.
- NASA Office of Logic Design "About Margaret Hamilton" (Last Revised: February 03, 2010)
- Cambridge Women's Heritage Project "Margaret Hamilton"
- M. Hamilton and W.R. Hackler, "Universal Systems Language: Lessons Learned from Apollo", IEEE Computer, Dec. 2008.
- NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe has commented saying “The concepts she and her team created became the building blocks for modern software engineering. It's an honor to recognize Ms. Hamilton for her extraordinary contributions to NASA.”.
- NASA Press Release "NASA Honors Apollo Engineer" (September 03, 2003)
- Michael Braukus NASA News "NASA Honors Apollo Engineer" (Sept. 3, 2003)
- By A.J.S. Rayl "NASA Engineers and Scientists-Transforming Dreams Into Reality"