Three co-creators of the MIT-incubated Julia programming language are the recipients of the 2019 James H. Wilkinson Prize for Numerical Software.
With origins in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Department of Mathematics, Julia is a programming language created in 2009 by Jeff Bezanson PhD ’15, former MIT Julia Lab researchers Stefan Karpinski, and Viral B. Shah, and professor of mathematics Alan Edelman.
The prize will be awarded to Bezanson, Karpinski, and Shah “for the creation of Julia, an innovative environment for the creation of high-performance tools that enable the analysis and solution of computational science problems.”
Released publicly in 2012, Julia has over 3 million downloads and is used in over 1,500 universities for scientific and numerical computing. “I am proud of the intellectual contributions of the Julia Lab, which applies the latest in computer science to science and engineering problems, while engaging interdisciplinary collaborations all over campus and beyond,” said Edelman. “Julia is increasingly the language of instruction for scientific computing at MIT.”
The prize returns to MIT since 1999, when Matteo Frigo PhD ’99 and now-professor of mathematics Steven Johnson ’95, PhD ’01 received the award for the Fastest Fourier Transform in the West. The Wilkinson Prize is awarded every four years to the authors of an outstanding piece of numerical software, and is intended to recognize innovative software in scientific computing and to encourage researchers in the earlier stages of their career.
“Julia allows researchers to write high-level code in an intuitive syntax and produce code with the speed of production programming languages,” according to a statement from the selection committee. “Julia has been widely adopted by the scientific computing community for application areas that include astronomy, economics, deep learning, energy optimization, and medicine. In particular, the Federal Aviation Administration has chosen Julia as the language for the next-generation airborne collision avoidance system.”
The award will be presented at the 2019 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Computational Science and Engineering conference (CSE19) in Spokane, Washington. Feb. 25-Mar 1, 2019.