Edsger Wybe Dijkstra was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1930. Both of his parents were intellectual people and had received good education. His father was a chemist and his mother was a mathematician. In 1942 when Dijkstra was 12 years old he entered the Gymnasium Erasminium a high school for extream bright students.
In 1945 Dijkstra thought that he might study law and possibl serve as a representative for the Netherlands at the United Nations. However due to the fact that he had scored so well in chemistry, mathematics and physics, he entered the University at Leiden, where he decided to study theoretical physics. He went to summer school on the subject of programming at Cambridge University during the summer of 1951. He began part-time work at the Mathematical Center in Amsterdam in 1952, which further helped fuel his growing interest in programming. One of the most problems that he ran into however was that programming still was not officially recognized as a profession.
In 1956 Dijkstra came up with the "shortest-path algorithm" after he had been assigned the task of showing the power of ARMAC, the computer that the Mathematical Centre had in it's possession. In the early 1960 Dijkstra applied the idea of mutual exclusion to communications between a computer and it's keyboard. The next problem that computer engineers must deal with that Dijkstra recognized was the "dining philosophers problem". In this problem, five philosophers are sitting at a table with a bowl of rice and a chopstick on either side of the bowl. The problem that arises is how the philosophers will be able to eat without coming to a "deadlock", ending up in a "starvation" situation, or a situation with "lack of fairness." He is well known for having designed and coded the first Algol 60 compiler. In 1972 Dijkstra was awarded the Turing Award, often viewed as the Nobel Prize for computing. In 2002, the C&C Foundation of Japan recognized Dijkstra "for his pioneering contributions to the establishment of the scientific basis for computer software through creative research in basic software theory, algorithm theory, structured programming, and semaphores".
Professor Edsger Wybe Dikstra died after a long struggle with cancer on 6 August 2002.