Nieke Roos
25 November 2019

David Chaum and Guido van Rossum have been awarded the Dijkstra Fellowship by Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI). The Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science granted the honorary title for the first time. Chaum “forefather of blockchain” is well known for his groundbreaking work in the area of privacy and cryptology and the development of digital currency. Van Rossum created the world-famous Python programming language almost 30 years ago, when he was working at CWI.

With the Dijkstra Fellowship, CWI aims to recognize the impact the duo’s groundbreaking work had on mathematics and computer science. Besides that, the fellowship is a recognition for the contribution they made to the institution’s reputation as a pioneer in the area of mathematics and computer science. The honorary title is named after Edsger Dijkstra, who was one of the most influential scientists in CWI history by developing the shortest path algorithm – next to other accomplishments.

David Chaum Guido van Rossum
David Chaum (left) and Guido van Rossum (right) have been granted the Dijkstra Fellowship for their groundbreaking research in mathematics and computer science. Credit: CWI

Chaum is a mathematician, as well as a computer scientist. By setting up the Cryptology research group at CWI in the early 80s, he brought modern cryptology to Europe. He’s internationally recognized as the founder of digital currencies and blockchain technology. Spin-off Digicash emerged from his research work. Chaum developed eCash, the precursor of the bitcoin, under the flag of Digicash.

Van Rossum’s Python is currently one of the most used programming languages in the world. It’s valued by beginners, as well as professionals, especially for its usability. Python is ideal for applications in the field of AI. It’s available open-source and has a globally active user community.

Jos Baeten, CWI’s general director: “Our institute aims to play a leading role in the area of mathematics and computer science research. Both Chaum and Van Rossum have contributed to this ambition like no other. And not only in the field of scientific research: we still feel the impact of their work in society every day.”