Parnas earned his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. He has taught as a professor at numerous universities, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Victoria in Canada, and the University of Limerick in Ireland.
Parnas is world-renowned as an early promoter and developer of standards and designs for software engineering. He made fundamental contributions to programming by promoting modular designs, including the concept of “object oriented programming,” a now ubiquitous approach to designing and developing robust and extensible software. He is also known for his promotion of documentation in computer code, facilitating its proper use. He earned a professional engineering license in Canada and is widely regarded as the first computer scientist to help the discipline of software engineering take on the rigor of other engineering disciplines, with his emphasis on design and documentation. His ideas have become part and parcel to good programming principles today. He is also known for his social activism, notably his resistance to the US Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”), arguing that it would be impossible to develop software good enough to be usable as a defense against a nuclear attack.
Parnas is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (1992) as well as the Association of Computing Machinery (1994). He won the IEEE Computer Society Award in 2007. He received an honorary doctorate from the Vienna University of Technology in 2011.
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