|Michael F. Cowlishaw|
|Institutions||University of Warwick|
|Alma mater||University of Birmingham|
|Known for||Rexx, OED, editors, Decimal arithmetic, DPD|
|Notable awards||FReng, FIET, FBCS|
Mike Cowlishaw is a retired IBM Fellow, a Visiting Professor at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Warwick, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (roughly the equivalent of the NAE in the USA), the Institute of Engineering and Technology (formerly IEE), and the British Computer Society.
Career at IBM
Cowlishaw joined IBM in 1974 as an electronic engineer but is best known as a programmer and writer. He is known for designing and implementing the REXX programming language (published in IBM Systems Journal in 1984) and the NetRexx programming language (1996–1997), his work on color perception and image processing (1982–1985), the STET folding editor (1977), the LEXX live parsing editor (1985, possibly the first editor with color highlighting) for the Oxford English Dictionary, electronic publishing, SGML applications, PMGlobe, the IBM Jargon file (IBMJARG) through 1990, Java-related languages, the Acorn System 1 simulator, MemoWiki, and decimal arithmetic.
He has also contributed to and/or edited numerous computing standards, including ISO (SGML, COBOL, C, C++), BSI (SGML, C), ANSI (REXX), IETF (HTTP 1.0/RFC 1945), W3C (XML Schema), ECMA (ECMAScript, C#, CLI), and IEEE (754 decimal floating-point).
He retired from IBM in March 2010.
In recent years, he has been working on aspects of decimal arithmetic; his proposal for an improved Java BigDecimal class (JSR 13) is now included in Java 5.0, and in 2002, he invented a refinement of Chen–Ho encoding known as densely packed decimal encoding. Cowlishaw's decimal arithmetic specification formed the proposal for the decimal parts of the IEEE 754 standard revision, as well as being followed by many implementations, such as Python and SAP Netweaver. His decNumber decimal package is also available as open source under several licenses and is now part of GCC, and his proposals for decimal hardware have been adopted by IBM and are integrated into the IBM Power6 and IBM System z10 processor cores, and in numerous IBM software products such as DB2, TPF (in Sabre), WebSphere MQ, operating systems, and C and PL/I compilers.
Outside computing, he also is known as a caver. A life member of the NSS, he wrote classic articles in the 1970s and 1980s on battery technology and on the shock strength of caving ropes, and caved in the UK, New England, Spain, and Mexico. He still appears to cave in Spain with Speleogroup and designs LED-based caving lamps, etc. In recent years he learned to fly, and holds a National Private Pilot License (Microlight).
- Decimal Floating-Point: Algorism for Computers, Cowlishaw, M. F., Proceedings 16th IEEE Symposium on Computer Arithmetic (Arith16), ISBN 0-7695-1894-X, pp104–111, IEEE Comp. Soc., June 2003
- Densely Packed Decimal Encoding, Cowlishaw, M. F., (Summary.) IEE Proceedings – Computers and Digital Techniques ISSN 1350-2387, Vol. 149, No. 3, pp102–104, IEE, May 2002
- A Decimal Floating-Point Specification, Cowlishaw, Schwarz, Smith, and Webb, Proceedings 15th IEEE Symposium on Computer Arithmetic (Arith15), ISBN 0-7695-1150-3, pp147–154, IEEE Comp. Soc., June 2001
- NetRexx – an alternative for writing Java classes, Cowlishaw, M. F., Proceedings of IEEE CompCon 97, ISBN 0-8186-7804-6, pp200–205, IEEE Press, Los Alamitos, Spring 1997
- The Early History of REXX, Cowlishaw, M. F., IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, ISSN 1058-6180, Vol 16, No. 4, Winter 1994, pp15–24
- A large-scale computer conferencing system, Chess and Cowlishaw, IBM Systems Journal, Vol 26, No. 1, 1987, IBM Reprint order number G321-5291
- LEXX – A programmable structured editor, Cowlishaw, M. F., IBM Journal of Research and Development, Vol 31, No. 1, 1987, IBM Reprint order number G322-0151
- Fundamental requirements for picture presentation, Cowlishaw, M. F., Proc. Society for Information Display, Volume 26, No. 2 (1985)
- The design of the REXX language, Cowlishaw, M. F., IBM Systems Journal, Volume 23, No. 4, 1984, IBM Reprint order number G321-5228
- The Characteristics and Use of Lead-Acid Cap Lamps, Cowlishaw, M. F. (Speleogroup), Trans. British Cave Research Association, Vol 1, No. 4, pp199–214, December 1974
- The NetRexx Language, Cowlishaw, M. F., ISBN 0-13-806332-X, Prentice-Hall, 1997
- The REXX Language, Cowlishaw, M. F., in English: ISBN 0-13-780651-5, (second edition) 1990; in German: ISBN 3-446-15195-8, Carl Hanser Verlag, 1988; in Japanese: ISBN 4-7649-0136-6, Kindai-kagaku-sha, 1988