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David Harel, one of the leading computer scientists in the world, will receive an honorary doctorate from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) on April 27th 2012 during the Dies Natalis of TU/e. On April 26th, his contributions are honored in a symposium, entitled “Pioneers of Computer Science: From Turing to Harel”.

Program Symposium

Date: April 26th, 2012
Location: Zwarte Doos, Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)
Live stream:

13.50 – 14.00 Welcome by Prof. Wil van der Aalst
14.00 – 14.40 Invited talk by Prof. Jan van Leeuwen (Utrecht University): ”Computation after Turing
14.40 – 15.20 Invited talk by Prof. Jan Friso Groote (TU/e): ”Software Modeling and Verification: System Design is Maturing
15.20 – 16.00 Invited talk by Prof. Grzegorz Rozenberg (Leiden University and University of Colorado at Boulder): ”A Formal Framework for Processes Inspired by the Functioning of Living Cells
16.00 – 16.30 Break
16.30 – 17.30 Keynote by Prof. David Harel (Weizmann Institute of Science): ”Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant: One Person’s Experience of Turing’s Impact
17.30 - Reception

This symposium is recommended by the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (KHMW), sponsored by the Institute for Programming research and Algorithmics (IPA), the Netherlands Research School for Information and Knowledge Systems (SIKS), and the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO), and supported by NIRICT.

Honorary Doctorate for David Harel

Date: April 27th, 2012
Location: Catharinakerk, Stratumseind 2, Eindhoven

David Harel, one of the leading computer scientists in the world, will receive an honorary doctorate from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) on April 27, 2012 during the Dies Natalis of TU/e. Professor Harel has made important contributions to a wide range of topics in computer science. He invented and developed the well-known Statecharts visual formalism. Today, Statecharts are widely used in software and systems engineering. For example, they are one of the core notations of the Unified Modeling Language (UML) used by most software engineers. Statecharts are just one of the many seminal contributions of this remarkable Israeli computer scientist.

Professor Harel completed his Master's thesis in 1976 under the supervision of Turing Award winner Amir Pnueli (Tel-Aviv University). He then obtained a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge in a record time of just 20 months. Since 1980 he has been working at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, where he also served for many years first as Department Head and later as Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science. In the early years of his career he focused on theoretical computer science (computability, logics of programs, automata theory, and database theory). In 1982, he got involved in a project for the Israel Aircraft Industry (IAI) as a one-day-a-week consultant. This was a turning point in his career, as he was able to identify first-hand the problems systems engineers were facing. Systems were specified by producing enormous informal, and often inconsistent, documents, which were then used by programmers and hardware engineers to build the actual system. This led Harel to develop Statecharts.

Over the last 30 years he has made various other contributions, addressing the gap between informal requirements and executable programs. He has put forward the grand challenge of liberating system development from the straightjackets of programming. He has pointed out that making specifications and programs separately and then proving their consistency can be counterproductive. This resulted in the development of Live Sequence Charts (LSCs), where the desired behavior is simply “played-in” such that no conventional programming is needed. The recorded behavior can be “played-out” later, i.e., scenarios result in a running system. This approach, which is now being called Behavioral Programming, has matured significantly in recent years, and he has now also developed versions in conventional languages such as Java.

It is remarkable to see how Harel has contributed to very different fields of computer science. For example, in addition to the topics mentioned before, he has been working on the layout of diagrams, the modeling of biological systems using tools and ideas from software and systems, and on visual languages in general. He also worked on the synthesis and communication of smell. He was the first to publish a viable scheme for electronically transmitting smell from one location to another. The scheme utilizes an electronic nose (the “sniffer”) that generates a fingerprint of an odor which is then analyzed in a complex manner, producing instructions for an output device (the “whiffer”) to produce a mixture of several tens of odorants that mimic the smell at another location and another time. Much research has been done by Harel and others since then to work out the means for carrying the analysis that would make the scheme implementable. This example illustrates the pioneering role of Harel in different areas.

During his career, Professor Harel has put a lot of emphasis on the practical realization of his ideas. He was involved in the development of Statemate, Rhapsody, the Play-Engine, and, more recently, PlayGo. These software tools help to further disseminate and validate his ideas. He was also the co-founder of I-Logix, Inc. in 1984, which is now part of IBM. The link between solid theoretical results and the actual realization of concrete systems fits very well with the engineering spirit of TU/e.

David Harel has written eight authoritative books on topics ranging from dynamic logic and algorithmics to scenario-based programming and the boundaries of computing. His work is highly cited and has influenced many computer scientists. He also helped to expose the beauty of computer science to a broader audience. For example, he has presented lectures series on Israeli radio and television. He has received the ACM's highest awards both in education (1992) and in software systems (2007), as well as the prestigious Israel Prize, and honorary degrees from the University of Rennes, the Open University of Israel, and the University of Milano-Bicocca. He is a Fellow of the ACM, the AAAS and the IEEE, and is a member of the Academia Europaea and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The TU/e is delighted that David Harel accepted TU/e's offer to become the 2012 Doctor Honoris Causa. Professor Wil van der Aalst of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of TU/e will be the honorary supervisor.


Computation after Turing

Prof. Jan van Leeuwen (Utrecht University)

Alan Turing thought about computing because he needed a clear concept of effective calculability. He probed the computable and the undecidable, and extensively studied numerical calculation. His question whether machines can be intelligent belongs to the heart of AI. Now computing is considered to be a key notion in every system we design and in every system we try to understand. Algorithms push the limits of what is practically computable or decidable. “Intelligent” machines like Watson compete with humans and win. What drives this development? What was Turing's view of computation and how do we think about it now? What is the role of algorithmics, described both as the spirit (Harel) and the poetry (Sullivan) of computing? In his talk, Van Leeuwen aims to answer these and other questions.

Software Modeling and Verification: System Design is Maturing

Prof. Jan Friso Groote (TU/e)

Computers are stupid machines that execute sequences of instructions in an extremely fast way. Humans construct such instruction sequences, but while doing so, they must deal with all conceivable situations that the computer can encounter. This is not a natural task for humans. If not all behavior has been foreseen, the computer fails to deal correctly with such a situation. This is one of the reasons for computer failure. Formal techniques, for instance in the form of statecharts and modal logics are a way to model and study system behavior to establish that all situations have been dealt with. Harel has been a pioneer in this area, dealing with both the theoretical as well as the practical side of the spectrum. Slowly, formal techniques are moving from the academic realm into industrial system design. In this talk, Groote will explain the essence of these techniques, illustrated with various examples.

A Formal Framework for Processes Inspired by the Functioning of Living Cells

Prof. Grzegorz Rozenberg (Leiden University and University of Colorado at Boulder)

Rozenberg will present a formal framework for investigating processes inspired by the functioning of the living cell, where this functioning is determined by interactions between individual reactions, and the interactions are regulated by two mechanisms: facilitation and inhibition. The framework is motivated by explicitly stating a number of assumptions that hold for these processes - these assumptions are very different from the ones underlying traditional models of computation. Rozenberg discusses a number of research topics - they are motivated either by the biological background of the framework or by the need to understand its computational nature. Throughout the lecture he will point out how this framework reflects ideas, methodology, and inspiration by both Alan Turing and David Harel.

Standing on the Shoulders of a Giant: One Person’s Experience of Turing’s Impact

Prof. David Harel (Weizmann Institute of Science)

In his keynote, Harel will describe three of Turing’s major achievements, in three different fields: computability, biological modeling and artificial intelligence. Interspersed with this, he will explain how each of them directly motivated and inspired him to carry out a variety of research projects over a period of 30 years, the results of which can all be viewed humbly as extensions and generalizations of Turing’s pioneering and ingenious insights. Although the symposium is organized to honor Harel’s remarkable scientific contributions, he will try to convince the audience that he is just a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a true giant!






Prof. Wil van der Aalst Prof. Jan van Leeuwen Prof. Jan van Leeuwen Prof. Jan Friso Groote Prof. Grzegorz Rozenberg Prof. David Harel Prof. David Harel


Attendance is free but you are kindly invited to register for the symposium before April 24th, 2012. Please contact the secretariat of the Information Systems Group (IS), Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, e-mail: