Alexandra Elbakyan by @SebastianNavasF

Towards the end of our list we bring you the story of a young woman that confronted the paywall and enabled free distribution of scientific research findings. Like many of our past pioneers, Alexandra Elbakyan is fond of knowledge democratization. She believes science should be widely spread, yet, she is paying the price of openness with her own isolation.

Hacking the system

In 2009 while she was an IT undergraduate student at the Satbayev Kazakh National Technical University in Kazakhstan, Alexandra faced the paywall for the first time. …


Kathy Sierra by @SebastianNavasF

Passionate about learning theory Kathy Sierra has dedicated part of her life to make learners’ lives easier by transforming the way of teaching. Author of the Head First programming book series, trainer, and former blogger, Kathy stands out in our list for her innovative contributions in computer science education.

Sierra has a background as a game designer (for Virgin, MGM, and Amblin Entertainment) and teacher of New Media Interactivity at the University of California Entertainment Studies. Also, she worked as a Master Trainer at Sun Microsystems (the company that created the Java programming language), teaching others how to teach Java…


Ida Holz by @SebastianNavasF

In the early 90s, there was a woman leading the group of computer pioneers who developed the first Internet networks in Latin America. That was the Uruguayan Ida Holz, whose accomplishments in the arrival and boot-up of e-mail and the Internet in Uruguay got her to the Internet Hall of Fame.

Ida was one of the first generations of computer engineers from the Universidad de la República in Uruguay. Back in 1973, Uruguay was under a civic-military dictatorship. So, only some years after graduating Holz and her family sought refuge in the Mexican embassy out of fear of political persecution…


Roberta Williams by @SebastianNavasF

Roberta Williams, mostly known for co-founding Sierra Online and her King’s Quest game series (1984–1998) and Phantasmagoria (1995), was the first female home computer game designer in the United States. Her passion about story-telling lead her to design more than 20 video games bringing the graphic adventure genre to the top.

From gamer to game-designer

Early adventure games were text-based adventures, written interactive stories, choose your own adventure kind of games. …


Margaret Masterman by @SebastianNavasF

Margaret Masterman was a pioneer in the field of computational linguistics. As a linguist and philosopher she was aware that language shapes the way we think and can tell us about the nature of mind and reasoning. For her work in language processing by computers in 1950' she was said to be way ahead of her time. Plenty of her ideas have now become fundamental insights in the fields of the artificial intelligence and machine translation.

As a student of Ludwig Wittgenstein, she was profoundly concerned about the foundations of theoretical linguistics. When Noam Chomsky was developing his syntactic theories…


Rina Dechter by @SebastianNavasF

Today deep learning is a hot topic in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, but it was a woman who back in 1986 coined the term. Meet Rina Dechter, pioneer in computational aspects of automated reasoning and knowledge representation and the first person to use the phrase deep learning in a scientific paper.

Introducing the Concept

In her article “Learning While Searching in Constraint-Satisfaction Problems” published in 1986, she introduces the concept of Deep Learning. One of the aims in her paper is to focus in constraint recording when dead-ends arise as a process of learning. …


Sophie Wilson by @SebastianNavasF

Regardless of the technology you are using to read this post, you need to know that its processor was early designed by a trans woman named Sophie Wilson. The ARM microprocessor core is now used in thousands of different products, including smartphones, tablets, gaming consoles and broadband routers. Because of this, the British engineer Sophie Wilson is said to be one of the architects of the modern world.

Over a summer holiday and while she was still a student, Wilson designed and constructed a prototype computer. Her summer project later became the basis for Acorn’s first computer called Acorn System…


Wendy Carlos by @SebastianNavasF

Computing is more that ones and zeroes, computing is a culture that permeates different areas of human expression. In today’s article we tell the story of a trans pioneer who helped build that culture via films like Tron. Meet Wendy Carlos.

After graduating in physics and music, Wendy trained as a music composer at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Centre, where she had the opportunity to learn from several forerunners of electronic music. …


Verónica Dahl by @SebastianNavasF

In the 10th day of our calendar we change continent to introduce you to Verónica Dahl, the Argentinean computer scientist that stands among the founders of the Logic Programming field. As if this were not enough, she didn’t stop in one discipline, but cultivated an astonishing multidisciplinary career that began with language processing and logic grammars, and went into unexpected areas like computational molecular biology, internet technology and constraint-based reasoning.

Logic Programming

Dahl became a computer scientist at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in 1974 and later emigrated to France due to the tough political situation Argentina was facing (one of her…


Margaret Hamilton by @SebastianNavasF

On July 20 of 1969, just as the Apollo 11 astronauts were about to land on the moon, something unexpected happened that stopped the heartbeats of the entire crew at Mission Control in Houston. The mission could have been aborted but thanks to Margaret Hamilton and her code to prevent user-errors, the landing was safe and three minutes later a human placed their feet on the moon for the first time in history.

Hamilton spent long hours at MIT’s Apollo project from NASA, leading the Software Engineering Division responsible for the unmanned missions on-board flight software. Often on nights and…

Florencia Grattarola

Uruguayan PhD student in Evolution & Ecology in the UK. flograttarola.com

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