Alan Kay to return as COFES keynote

Kay is the inventor of object-oriented programming and considered the father of portable computing. Now he wants to re-invent programming to cope with its increased complexity. 

The visionary, award winning Dr. Alan Kay will give the main keynote presentation at COFES 2012, the Congress on the Future of Engineering Software. This marks the first time a COFES keynote speaker returns for a second round as the marque speaker; he first visited COFES in 2003.

Among those who created the foundations of modern computing, Kay is one of the giants. He is the father of object-oriented programming—the basis for all modern engineering software. He created the conceptual bases for laptop and tablet computers and e-books, and is the architect of the modern overlapping windowing graphical user interface. Among his many honors, Kay is the recipient of the ACM Turing Award, the Kyoto Prize, and the Charles Stark Draper Prize, all among the highest distinctions in the fields of computer science and engineering.

Dr. Alan Kay

Currently Kay is president of Viewpoints Research Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to both improving “powerful ideas education” for the world’s children and to advancing the state of systems research and personal computing. Many of the Institute’s themes co-evolved with the inventions of networked personal computers, graphical user interfaces and dynamic object-oriented programming.

Regarding the need to re-invent programming, Kay maintains that over time, increasingly complex needs have led to the creation of increasingly complex software, built in an incremental fashion—code on top of code. This process, particularly evident in the realm of engineering software, has led to program structures that can be hundreds of millions of lines of code that is intractable to change, redesign, and understanding. At COFES, Kay will discuss research towards reinventing programming—from scratch—to overcome this problem.

“Alan Kay is one of a handful of computing pioneers whose visionary ideas have changed the world as we know it today,” said Brad Holtz, president and CEO of Cyon Research Corporation. “His recent research is of critical importance in the field of engineering software, where program complexity creates massive risk. The concepts he will be presenting at COFES could literally transform the industry.”

Kay’s 2003 COFES keynote address on new research in visual computing still stands as the only time a COFES keynote presentation was extended due to audience demand.