Adriaan van Wijngaarden

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Adriaan van Wijngaarden
Born(1916-11-02)2 November 1916
Died7 February 1987(1987-02-07) (aged 70)
Amstelveen, Netherlands
Alma materDelft University of Technology (1939)
Known forALGOL
Van Wijngaarden grammar
AwardsIEEE Computer Pioneer Award (1986)
Scientific career
FieldsNumerical mathematics
Computer science
InstitutionsUniversity of Amsterdam
Mathematisch Centrum in Amsterdam
Doctoral advisorCornelis Benjamin Biezeno
Doctoral studentsEdsger W. Dijkstra
Peter van Emde Boas
Jaco de Bakker
Reinder van de Riet
Guus Zoutendijk
Maarten van Emden

Adriaan "Aad" van Wijngaarden (2 November 1916 – 7 February 1987) was a Dutch mathematician and computer scientist. Trained as a mechanical engineer, Van Wijngaarden emphasized and promoted the mathematical aspects of computing, first in numerical analysis, then in programming languages and finally in design principles of such languages.


Van Wijngaarden's university education was in mechanical engineering, for which he received a degree from Delft University of Technology[1] in 1939. He then studied for a doctorate in hydrodynamics, but abandoned the field. He joined the Nationaal Luchtvaartlaboratorium in 1945 and went with a group to England the next year to learn about new technologies that had been developed there during World War II.

Van Wijngaarden was intrigued by the new idea of automatic computing. On 1 January 1947, he became the head of the Computing Department of the brand-new Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), which was at the time known as the Mathematisch Centrum (MC), in Amsterdam.[1] He then made further visits to England and the United States, gathering ideas for the construction of the first Dutch computer, the ARRA, an electromechanical device first demonstrated in 1952. In that same year, van Wijngaarden hired Edsger W. Dijkstra, and they worked on software for the ARRA.

in 1958, while visiting Edinburgh, Scotland, Van Wijngaarden was seriously injured in an automobile accident in which his wife was killed. After he recovered, he focused more on programming language research. The following year, he became a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[2]

In 1961, he became the director of the Mathematisch Centrum in Amsterdam and remained in that post for the next twenty years.

He was one of the designers of the original ALGOL language, and later ALGOL 68,[3] for which he developed a two-level type of formal grammar that became known as a Van Wijngaarden grammar.

In 1962, he became involved with developing international standards in programming and informatics, as a member of the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) IFIP Working Group 2.1 on Algorithmic Languages and Calculi,[4] which specified, maintains, and supports the programming languages ALGOL 60 and ALGOL 68.[5]

Van Wijngaarden Awards[edit]

The Van Wijngaarden Awards are named in his honor and are awarded every 5 years from the 60th anniversary of the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica in 2006. The physical award consists of a bronze sculpture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Verrijn-Stuart, Alex (1995). "IFIP 36 years Obituaries: Prof. Adriaan van WIJNGAARDEN (1916–1987)". Retrieved 2020-10-11.
  2. ^ "Adriaan van Wijngaarden (1916 - 1987)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2015-07-20.
  3. ^ van Wijngaarden, Adriaan; Mailloux, Barry James; Peck, John Edward Lancelot; Koster, Cornelis Hermanus Antonius; Sintzoff, Michel [in French]; Lindsey, Charles Hodgson; Meertens, Lambert Guillaume Louis Théodore; Fisker, Richard G., eds. (1976). Revised Report on the Algorithmic Language ALGOL 68 (PDF). Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-07592-1. OCLC 1991170. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-04-19. Retrieved 2019-05-11.
  4. ^ Jeuring, Johan; Meertens, Lambert; Guttmann, Walter (2016-08-17). "Profile of IFIP Working Group 2.1". Foswiki. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  5. ^ Swierstra, Doaitse; Gibbons, Jeremy; Meertens, Lambert (2011-03-02). "ScopeEtc: IFIP21: Foswiki". Foswiki. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  6. ^ "First Van Wijngaarden Awards for Lynch and Diaconis" (Press release). Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica. 2006-02-10. Archived from the original on 2012-07-28. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  7. ^ "Van Wijngaarden Award 2011 for Éva Tardos and John Butcher" (Press release). Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica. 2011-02-10. Archived from the original on 2011-02-21. Retrieved 2011-02-12.
  8. ^ CWI soiree & Van Wijngaarden Award Ceremony, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, 2016-09-01, archived from the original on 2016-09-25, retrieved 2016-09-01
  9. ^ Marta kwiatkowska and susan murphy win van wijngaarden awards 2021 for preventing software faults and for improving decision making in health, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica, 2021-09-20, retrieved 2021-12-07

External links[edit]