Andrew S. Tanenbaum

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Andrew S. Tanenbaum bigraphy, stories - Dutch computer scientist

Andrew S. Tanenbaum : biography

March 16, 1944 –

Andrew Stuart "Andy" Tanenbaum (sometimes referred to by the handle ast) (born March 16, 1944) is an American computer scientist and professor of computer science at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

He is best known as the author of MINIX, a free Unix-like operating system for teaching purposes, and for his computer science textbooks, regarded as standard texts in the field. He regards his teaching job as his most important work. about Linux, the Usenet debate, and the Alexis de Tocqueville Institution Since 2004 he has operated Electoral-vote.com, a website dedicated to analysis of polling data in federal elections in the United States.

Keynote talks

Tanenbaum has been keynote speaker at numerous conferences, most recently

  • Veldhoven, The Netherlands, Nov. 2, 2010
  • FOSDEM Brussels, Belgium, Feb 7, 2010
  • Changsha, China, Nov. 5, 2009
  • Athens, Greece, Sept. 25, 2009
  • Sankt Augustin, Germany, August 23, 2008
  • XV of the Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon, Portugal, March 13, 2008
  • NLUUG conference, Amsterdam, November 7, 2007
  • linux.conf.au in Sydney, Australia, January 17, 2007
  • Academic IT Festival in Cracow, Poland, February 23, 2006 (2nd edition)
  • , Brighton, England, October 24, 2005

Projects

Amsterdam Compiler Kit

The Amsterdam Compiler Kit is a toolkit for producing portable compilers. It was started sometime before 1981, and Andrew Tanenbaum was the architect from the start until version 5.5.

MINIX

In 1987, Tanenbaum wrote a clone of UNIX, called MINIX (MIni-uNIX), for the IBM PC. It was targeted at students and others who wanted to learn how an operating system worked. Consequently, he wrote a book that listed the source code in an appendix and described it in detail in the text. The source code itself was available on a set of floppy disks. Within three months, a USENET newsgroup, comp.os.minix,news:comp.os.minix had sprung up with over 40,000 subscribers discussing and improving the system. One of these subscribers was a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds who began adding new features to MINIX and tailoring it to his own needs. On October 5, 1991, Torvalds announced his own (POSIX like) kernel, called Linux, which originally used the MINIX file system, but it is not based on MINIX code.

Although MINIX and Linux have diverged, MINIX continues to be developed, now as a production system as well as an educational one. The focus is on building a highly modular, reliable, and secure, operating system. The system is based on a microkernel, with only 5000 lines of code running in kernel mode. The rest of the operating system runs as a number of independent processes in user mode, including processes for the file system, process manager, and each device driver. The system continuously monitors each of these processes, and when a failure is detected is often capable of automatically replacing the failed process without a reboot, without disturbing running programs, and without the user even noticing. MINIX 3, as the current version is called, is available under the BSD license for free.

Research projects

Tanenbaum has also been involved in numerous other research projects in the areas of operating systems, distributed systems, and ubiquitous computing, often as supervisor of Ph.D. students or a postdoctoral researcher. These projects include:

  • Amoeba
  • Globe
  • Mansion
  • Orca
  • Paramecium
  • RFID Guardian
  • Turtle F2F

Electoral-vote.com

In 2004, Tanenbaum created Electoral-vote.com, a web site analyzing opinion polls for the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election, using them to project the outcome in the Electoral College. He stated that he created the site as an American who "knows first hand what the world thinks of America and it is not a pretty picture at the moment. I want people to think of America as the land of freedom and democracy, not the land of arrogance and blind revenge. I want to be proud of America again." The site provided a color-coded map, updated each day with projections for each state’s electoral votes. Through most of the campaign period Tanenbaum kept his identity secret, referring to himself as "the Votemaster" and acknowledging only that he personally preferred John Kerry. A libertarian who supports the Democrats, he revealed his identity on November 1, 2004, the day prior to the election, also stating his reasons and qualifications for running the website. Through the site he covered the 2006 midterm elections, correctly predicting the winner of all 33 Senate races that year.