Peter Naur, Danish computer science pioneer, Died at 87

Peter Naur was born on October 28, 1928, and died on January 3, 2016.

He was a Danish pioneer in computer science and Turing award winner.

The N in the BNF notation (Backus-Naur form) represents the N in Naur, used in the description of the syntax for most programming languages.

The N in Backus-Naur form did not mean a lot to him, he said that he would prefer it to be called the Backus Normal Form.

Peter disliked the very term “computer science” and suggested it be called “datalogy” or “data science”

Naur has contributed to the creation of the ALGOL 60 programming language.

Peter Naur started his career as an astronomer for which he received his PhD in 1957, but his encounter with computers led to a change of profession.

From 1959 to 1969, Peter worked at Regnecentralen, the Danish computing institute, while at the same time giving lectures at the Niels Bohr Institute and the Technical University of Denmark.

He was also a professor of computer science at the University of Copenhagen, from 1969 to 1998

Peter specialized in design, structure and performance of computer programs and algorithms.

Some of which are, software engineering and software architecture have also been pioneered by Naur.

His wife was computer scientist Christiane Floyd.

In later years Naur was well outspoken of the pursuit of science as a whole: Peter Naur can possibly be identified with the empiricist school, that tells that one shall not seek deeper connections between things that manifest themselves in the world, but keep to the observable facts.

Naur has attacked both certain strands of philosophy and psychology from this viewpoint.

Peter was working on developing a theory of human thinking which he called “Synapse-State Theory of Mental Life”.

He won the 2005 ACM A.M. Turing Award for his work on defining the ALGOL 60 programming language.

However, Mr. Naur role as editor of the influential Report on the Algorithmic Language ALGOL 60 with its pioneering use of BNF was recognized.

He was the only Dane to have won the Turing Award.

Danish developer Poul-Henning Kamp posted on Twitter, on January 3, 2016, that he had been informed via email that Peter Naur had died that morning.

Peter Naur passed away at 87 yrs old.