Professor Emerita Lynn Conway, who revolutionized Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) design, has been honored with the Computer Pioneer Award by the IEEE Computer Society for her contributions to superscalar architecture, including multiple-issue dynamic instruction scheduling, and for the innovation and widespread teaching of simplified VLSI design methods.
The Computer Pioneer Award was established in 1981 by the Board of Governors of the IEEE Computer Society to recognize and honor the vision of those people whose efforts resulted in the creation and continued vitality of the computer industry. The award is presented to outstanding individuals whose main contribution to the concepts and development of the computer field was made at least fifteen years earlier. With this award, Lynn has been recognized for her previously uncredited work in the 1960s at IBM, and her work that followed at Xerox PARC and DARPA
After earning her B.S. and M.S.E.E. degrees from Columbia University, Conway joined IBM. It was there that she made foundational contributions to superscalar computer architecture in the mid-1960s, including the innovation of multiple-issue dynamic instruction scheduling (DIS).
Later, at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Conway innovated scalable MOS design rules and highly simplified methods for silicon chip design, co-authoring the famous “Mead-Conway” text and pioneering the new form of university course that taught these methods – thereby launching a worldwide revolution in VLSI system design in the late-1970s.
Conway also pioneered the Internet-based rapid-chip prototyping infrastructure that was institutionalized as the “MOSIS” system by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the US National Science Foundation – supporting rapid development of thousands of chip designs and leading to many Silicon Valley startups in the 1980s.
After serving as assistant director for strategic computing at DARPA from 1983 to 1985, Conway joined the University of Michigan as professor of EECS and associate dean of engineering.
Her VLSI design revolution enabled her multi-issue DIS innovation to come to life in Intel’s Pentium microprocessors. Conway is an IEEE Fellow, and was the recipient of the University of Pennsylvania’s Pender Award, the Franklin Institute’s Wetherill Medal, Secretary of Defense Meritorious Achievement Award, and the Society of Women Engineers National Achievement Award. She was elected to the Electronic Design Hall of Fame and National Academy of Engineering.