Along with coauthor J. Eliot B. Moss, Maurice Herlihy was recently given an award for the most influential paper by the Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group - Computer Architecture (ACM SIGARCH) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers - Computer Society Technical Community on Computer Architecture (IEEE-CS TCCA) for his 1993 paper, Transactional Memory: Architectural Support for Lock-Free Data Structures. The presentation took place at the 35th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA), held in Beijing, China on June 24, 2008.
This award recognizes his paper from the International Symposium on Computer Architecture Proceedings 15 years earlier that has had the most impact on the field in terms of research, development, products or ideas during the intervening years and includes an honorarium of $1,000 for the authors and a certificate.
This paper introduced "Transactional Memory,” an approach to programming multiprocessor systems that avoids many of the hazards and pitfalls of conventional lock-based approaches. According to the award-winning paper, “Transactional memory allows programmers to define customized read-modify-write operations that apply to multiple, independently-chosen words of memory. It is implemented by straightforward extensions to any multiprocessor cache-coherence protocol. Simulation results show that transactional memory matches or outperforms the best known locking techniques for simple benchmarks, even in the absence of priority inversion, convoying, and deadlock.”
"Transactional memory is a large, lively area today, but this paper went mostly uncited for a decade until technological changes caught up,” commented Maurice. “Therefore, I'm especially thrilled to receive the distinction of most influential paper fifteen years later.”
Another one of Maurice’s papers that was presented in 1993 at the 25th Annual ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, “The asynchronous computability theorem for t-resilient tasks,” led to his 2004 Goedel prize in theoretical computing.