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David Wheeler (British computer scientist)

David Wheeler (British computer scientist)

British computer scientist
David Wheeler (British computer scientist)
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British computer scientist
A.K.A. David John Wheeler, David J. Wheeler
Was Cryptographer Computer scientist
From United Kingdom
Type Technology Science
Gender male
Birth 9 February 1927, Birmingham, Birmingham, West Midlands, West Midlands
Death 13 December 2004, Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, East of England (aged 77 years)
Star sign Aquarius
Spouse: Joyce Wheeler
The details (from wikipedia)


David John Wheeler FRS (9 February 1927 – 13 December 2004) was a computer scientist and professor of computer science at the University of Cambridge.


Wheeler was born in Birmingham and gained a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge to read the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos, graduating in 1948. He completed the world's first PhD in computer science in 1951.


Wheeler's contributions to the field included work on the Electronic delay storage automatic calculator (EDSAC) and the Burrows–Wheeler transform. Along with Maurice Wilkes and Stanley Gill he is credited with the invention of the subroutine (which they referred to as the closed subroutine), and gave the first explanation of how to design software libraries; as a result, the jump to subroutine instruction was often called a Wheeler Jump. He was responsible for the implementation of the CAP computer, the first to be based on security capabilities. In cryptography, he was the designer of WAKE and the co-designer of the TEA and XTEA encryption algorithms together with Roger Needham. In 1950, along with Maurice Wilkes, he used EDSAC to solve a differential equation relating to gene frequencies in a paper by Ronald Fisher. This represents the first use of a computer for a problem in the field of biology.

Wheeler married Joyce Blackler in August 1957, who herself used EDSAC for her own mathematical investigations as a research student from 1955. He became a Fellow of Darwin College, Cambridge in 1964 and formally retired in 1994, although he continued to be an active member of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory until his death. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. In 2003, he was named a Computer History Museum Fellow Award recipient "for his invention of the closed subroutine, and for his architectural contributions to ILLIAC, the Cambridge Ring, and computer testing." The Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge annually holds the "Wheeler Lecture", a series of distinguished lectures named after him.


Wheeler is often quoted as saying "All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection." Another quotation attributed to him is "Compatibility means deliberately repeating other people's mistakes."

Another quote of him saying at the famous Cambridge Computer Lab Coffee Room - "Published Papers in the Shelves Collecting Dust" to Ph.D. students - signifying that research must have impact, and not about papers or number of publications.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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