2012: Matthias Felleisen
The SIGPLAN 2012 Achievement award has been won by Matthias Felleisen, an exemplary researcher whose work covers theory, practice, and education, with each reinforcing the others. He has made fundamental contributions across the entire spectrum of the programming language field. He introduced evaluation contexts as a notation for specifying operational semantics, and progress-and-preservation proofs of type safety, both of which are used in scores of research papers each year, often without citation. His other contributions include small-step operational semantics for control and state, A-normal form, delimited continuations, mixin classes and mixin modules, a fully-abstract semantics for Sequential PCF, web programming techniques, higher-order contracts with blame, and static typing for dynamic languages.
Matthias tests his ideas by building real systems, working in the framework of PLT Scheme, later renamed Racket, which includes interactive development environments, interactive debugging and flow analysis, documentation tools, and support for language levels and multiple languages. He has coauthored a series of influential texts, including four 'little' books—The Little Schemer, The Seasoned Schemer, A Little Java, and The Little MLer—the widely used textbook How to Design Programs, and a monograph on Semantics Engineering. He founded a series of workshops and projects to support K–12 teaching, including TeachScheme!, Reach Java, and Program by Design. Moreover, he has nurtured a new generation of researchers, who are now respected in their own right and pursue the same goals of excellence, rigor, and real-world impact that have characterized Matthias's work.