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Dr. Leslie Lamport (born February 7, 1941 in New York City) is an American computer scientist. A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, he received a B.S. in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1960, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from Brandeis University, respectively in 1963 and 1972.[1] His dissertation was about singularities in analytic partial differential equations.[2] Lamport is best known for his seminal work in distributed systems and as the initial developer of the document preparation system LaTeX.[3]

Professionally, Lamport worked as a computer scientist at Massachusetts Computer Associates, SRI International, Digital Equipment Corporation, and Compaq. In 2001 he joined Microsoft Research at Mountain View, California.[1]

Lamport’s research contributions have laid the foundations of the theory of distributed systems. Among his most notable papers are

“Time, Clocks, and the Ordering of Events in a Distributed System”,[4] which received the PODC Influential Paper Award in 2000,[5]
“The Byzantine Generals Problem”,[6]
“Distributed Snapshots: Determining Global States of a Distributed System”[7] and
“The Part-Time Parliament”.[8]
These papers relate to such concepts as logical clocks (and the happened-before relationship) and Byzantine failures. They are among the most cited papers in the field of computer science[9] and describe algorithms to solve many fundamental problems in distributed systems, including:

the Paxos algorithm for consensus,
the bakery algorithm for mutual exclusion of multiple threads in a computer system that require the same resources at the same time and
the snapshot algorithm for the determination of consistent global states.
Lamport is also known for his work on temporal logic, where he introduced the temporal logic of actions (TLA).[10][11] Among his more recent contributions is TLA+, a logic for specifying and reasoning about concurrent and reactive systems, that he describes in the book “Specifying Systems: The TLA+ Language and Tools for Hardware and Software Engineers”[12] and defines as a “quixotic attempt to overcome engineers' antipathy towards mathematics”.[13]

Lamport received four honorary doctorates from European universities: University of Rennes and Christian Albrechts University of Kiel in 2003, EPFL in 2004 and University of Lugano in 2006.[1] In 2004, he received the IEEE Piore Award.[14] In 2005, the paper “Reaching Agreement in the Presence of Faults”[15] received the Dijkstra Prize.[16]

Lamport is the author of the aphorism:[17]


A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable.”

See also
Lamport signature - The Lamport one-time signature scheme is a method for constructing a digital signature.
S/KEY - a one-time password system sometimes referred to as Lamport's scheme

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