Pippenger Named to Historical Society’s IT Honor Roll

In recognition of an extraordinary contribution to the information technology industry, the IT History Society acknowledged Harvey Mudd College mathematics Professor Nicholas Pippenger, co-inventor of extendible hashing, a database access technique which has a dynamic structure that grows and shrinks gracefully as the database grows and shrinks.

Pippenger, who worked on extendible hashing while at IBM Research with colleagues Ronald Fagin, H. Raymond Strong and Jürg Nievergelt (ETH, Zurich, Switzerland), is one of more than 700 honorees on the History Society’s IT Honor Roll. Jeffery D. Stein, board chairman of the IT History Society, said, “The IT Honor Roll continues to grow to honor individuals that have made an out-of-the-ordinary contribution to the information industry … The impressive list contains individuals that are in some way cornerstones to our industry.”

The Society’s membership includes historians and archivists, as well as institutions, such as the Center for Technology Innovation, Charles Babbage Institute, Microsoft and the Smithsonian Institution. The IT History Society assists in the collaboration of like-minded institutions and individuals to expand the reach of historical and archival activities while communicating to the private sector the value of preserving their history and heritage for future generations.

Pippenger was recognized in 2012 by the American Mathematical Society, which selected him for its inaugural class of AMS Fellows along with Harvey Mudd President Maria Klawe, Professor of Mathematics Art Benjamin and several Harvey Mudd alumni. Pippenger’s interests center in discrete mathematics and probability and extend into communication theory and theoretical computer science. Prior to joining Harvey Mudd, he served as professor of computer science at Princeton University. He joined Princeton from the University of British Columbia, where he served as professor of computer science from 1988 to 2003 and, in 2001, was appointed to a Canada Research Chair. Prior to UBC, he worked for IBM, first as a research staff member and manager of the Theory of Computation Group at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center and then as a research staff member and, later, an IBM Fellow at the Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California. Before IBM, Pippenger was a technical staff member for the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory (aka the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Pippenger is the author of Theories of Computability, published by Cambridge University Press in 1997. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Science), a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He is a member of the Mathematical Association of America and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.