Turing Lecture 1993:

Principles for Computer System Design


Butler Lampson


These are the slides for the lecture which I gave at the ACM conference in 1993 when I received the Turing award.

Citation: None.

Links: Abstract, Acrobat, Word

Email: blampson@microsoft.com. This paper is at http://research.microsoft.com.


We have learned depressingly little in the last ten years about how to build computer systems.  But we have learned something about how to do the job more precisely, by writing more precise specifications, and by showing more precisely that an implementation meets its specification.  Methods for doing this are of both intellectual and practical interest.  I will explain the most useful such method and illustrate it with two examples:

Connection establishment: Sending a reliable message over an unreliable network.

Transactions: Making a large atomic action out of a sequence of small ones.