Andrew Tanenbaum - computer science researcher

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Andrew Tanenbaum - computer science researcher
Andrew Tanenbaum - computer science researcher

Andrew Stewart Tanenbaum is an American computer scientist. He is Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at the Free University of Amsterdam. Tanenbaum has done research on compilation and compilers, operating systems, networks, and locally distributed systems. He is internationally known for developing the Unix-like Minix system and as the author of several important works in various fields of computer science.


Andrew Tanenbaum was born on March 16, 1944. The future scientist spent his childhood and youth in White Plains, New York. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, where he received a bachelor's degree in physics. This was followed by a doctorate under the supervision of John Marsh Wilcox in 1971 at the University of California at Berkeley. The topic of the dissertation was the following "Investigation of five-minute oscillations, hypergranulations and related phenomena in the solaratmosphere".

Andrew Tanenbaum developer

After his marriage, he moved with his wife of Dutch origin to the Netherlands, but retained his American citizenship and began working at the Free University of Amsterdam as a professor of computer science, where he lectured, supervised doctoral studies and headed a department. Tanenbaum was CTO of the School of Computing and Imaging until January 1, 2005. The scientist retired in 2014.

Work at the School of Computing and Image Processing

In the early 1990s, the Dutch government began to create a series of thematically oriented research schools spanning several universities. These schools were designed to attract professors and PhDs. Tanenbaum was one of the founders and the first head of the "School of Computing and Image Processing". The team of this school initially consisted of almost 200 teachers and candidates of sciences who worked on solving problems in modern computer systems at that time.

Andrew Tanenbaum Dean of the School

Tanenbaum remained dean for 12 years, until 2005, when he was awarded the title of professor at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Since then, the school has included researchers from almost a dozen universities in the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Textbooks and books

Andrew Tanenbaum is known for his literary work on computer science and computer architecture, computer networks andoperating systems. His work is characterized by a combination of high informational content with good readability and a writing style that can be described as humorous. Many of his books include self-paced exercises at the end of the chapter. Below are his main works:

"Computer architecture. Structures - Concepts - Fundamentals". Co-written with James R. Goodman. The basic structure of computers is described using a detailed model. The levels are described as digital logic, including boolean algebra, microarchitecture, assembly language, and a model of a conventional or OS machine

"Computer networks". Andrew Tanenbaum devoted this work to network protocols. Based on the OSI reference model, the network layers are described, which are built on the basis of the electronic and physical layers, as well as the communication layer, including error detection. The book concludes with chapters on network security with topics such as cryptography, signatures, WEB security, and social issues

Andrew Tanenbaum (Author)

"Modern operating systems". The book provides the current state (at the time of publication) of operating system development. Numerous illustrations and many examples provide a better understanding of the theories and concepts presented. Theoretically presents the main components of operating systems, such as processes and threads, memory management, file systems, multiprocessor systems and IT security

"Distributed Systems: Fundamentals and Paradigms". Together withMaarten van Steen Tanenbaum describes seven basic principles of distributed systems. Then he presents them with concrete examples. Including CORBA, DCOM, NFS and WWW systems

"Development and implementation of operating systems". In the book, Tanenbaum, along with Albert S. Woodhull, first outlines general principles for operating systems, the most important of which he discusses and studies in detail in the source code of the Minix operating system he developed

Degrees and awards

Here are Andrew's awards:

  • In mid-May 2008, Tanenbaum received an honorary degree from the Polytechnic University of Bucharest. The award was presented by members of the Academic Chamber of the Senate. After the award of his degree, Tanenbaum gave a lecture on his assumptions about the future of computer science and computers. The degree was awarded in recognition of the scholar's work.
  • Andrew Tanenbaum in Romania
  • October 7, 2011 Petru Maior University of Tirgu Mures awarded Tanenbaum an honorary doctorate for his outstanding work in computer science and education. The scholarly community thus pays tribute to his dedication to teaching and research. At the ceremony, the rector, the dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Literature, and others spoke about Tanenbaum and his work.

Minix operating system

In 1987, Tanenbaum developed a Unix-like system called Minix (Mini-Unix) for IBM personal computers. The system was aimed at students and those who wanted to understandhow a computer running an operating system works. Then a book was published in which Tanenbaum published pieces of the source code of the system and described them in detail in context. The originals themselves were available on digital media. Within a couple of months of the publication of the book, the Usenet group had over 40,000 subscribers discussing and improving the system. One such subscriber was a student from Finland, Linus Torvalds, who began adding new functionality to Minix and customizing the system to his needs. In early October 1991, Torvalds released data on a new OS kernel called Linux.

Andrew Tanenbaum and Linus Torvalds

Andrew Tanenbaum's operating system, Minix, continues to improve. The focus is on developing a highly modular, reliable and secure OS. The system is based on a microkernel. There are only five thousand lines of code running in kernel mode. The other part of the system runs as a series of autonomous processes: the file system handler, process manager, and device drivers.

US Election Analytics

In 2004, Tanenbaum developed the site, which analyzes social polls of citizens' opinions about the presidential elections in the United States. The site featured a map that was updated daily and displayed vote projections for each US state. For most of the campaign, Tanenbaum kept his identity anonymous. Having indicated his support for the Democrats, he revealed his name in early November 2004, the day beforeelections.

By the 2008 election, Tanenbaum was able to predict almost every state outcome except for Missouri and Indiana. He accurately predicted all the winners in the Senate, with the exception of the "Gopher State" - Minnesota.

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