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Jack Bonnell Dennis Edit Profile

educator , Computer scientist

Jack B. Dennis is a computer science educator and researcher who is best known for his pioneering work in computer timesharing and dataflow technology.

Background

Jack Bonnell Dennis was born on October 13, 1931, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Wolcott Dennis and Nereide Bonnell. His father was from Seattle and was employed at the Air Reduction Company in New Jersey. His duties there included “boiling air,” an oxygen extraction process where air is cooled to a liquid form, then gradually heated to “boil off” the nitrogen, leaving pure liquid oxygen. Dennis’s mother grew up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and became a teacher. Dennis has an older brother, Robert, who served for several years as the harbormaster of Darien, Connecticut, and owned an auto service cen¬ter. When Jack was one year old, the Dennis family moved to Darien, Connecticut.

Education

Jack Dennis graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he's got three degree: Bachelor of Science, Master of Arts in 1954, Doctor of Philosophy in 1958.

Career

His doctoral thesis analyzed the relation between mathematical programming problems and electrical networks. After completing his doctorate, Dennis became part of the MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science's faculty, being promoted to full professor in 1969. Dennis was one of the founders of the pioneering Multics project.

His most important contribution to this project was the concept of the single-level memory. Multics was not fully successful as a commercial project, but it was important because it influenced the design of many other computer operating systems, including inspiration for Ken Thompson to design Unix. In recognition of his work on the Multics project, Dennis was elected as.

Dennis' research at the MIT focused in Computer Theory and Computer Systems, specifically: Theoretical Models for Computation Computation Structures Structure of Computer Systems Semantic Theory for Computer Systems Semantics of Parallel Computation Computer System Architecture Dennis has also worked as an independent consultant and research scientist on projects related with parallel computer hardware and software since his retirement from MIT in 1987. He has worked with the NASA Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science as Visiting Scientist, with the Architecture Group of Carlstedt Elektronik (Gothenburg, Sweden), and with Acorn Networks, Inc., as Chief Scientist. A great part of Dennis' career has been devoted to non-von Neumann models of computation, architecture, and languages, where programs are not attached to a program counter.

Along with his students, Dennis adopted the concepts of "single-assignment" and dataflow, in which instructions are executed as soon as data are available (this specific model is called "static" in contrast to Arvind's "dynamic"). The work of Dennis in computer systems and languages is recognized to have played a key role in hacker culture, and as a faculty member he sponsored easier access to computer facilities at MIT during the early development of the subculture.

Achievements

  • Dennis was one of the founders of the pioneering Multics project. His most important contribution to this project was the concept of the single-level memory. Multics was not fully successful as a commercial project, but it was important because it influenced the design of many other computer operating systems, including inspiration for Ken Thompson to design Unix. In recognition of his work on the Multics project, Dennis was elected as IEEE Fellow.

Membership

Dennis was a member of the historic Tech Model Railroad Club, which incubated much of the early slang and traditions of hacking. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), 2009.

  • National Academy of Engineering , United States

  • historic Tech Model Railroad Club

Interests

  • Other Interests

    playing piano and cello, choral singing.

Connections

He was married to Therese Smith who was a systems engineer. He has children: David (first marriage), Randall, Jessica (second marriage).

children:
David Dennis - American

Randall Dennis - American

Jessica Dennis - American

wife:
Therese Smith - American - systems engineer