Top scientific minds at the summit

DR LESLIE LAMPORT, 74

The American computer scientist's work laid the foundation for the development of distributed systems, which, in turn, formed the basis for multi-player gaming, online telecommunications and parallel computing.

He received the Turing Award - often referred to as the Nobel Prize of computing - in 2013 for his work on such systems.

He is also famous for what has been termed the Bakery Algorithm, which is now taught to most computer science undergraduates. It works out the best way to assign instructions for multiple computer processes, similar to how assigning queue numbers would be the most efficient way to prevent people from bunching up at service counters.

In addition, Dr Lamport is the author and developer of word processing software LaTeX, which has become the standard for technical publishing.


PROFESSOR MICHAEL GRATZEL, 71

Professor Gratzel is one of the world's renowned material scientists, known, in particular, for his work on solar cells.

He is most famous for the development of dye-sensitised solar cells that mimic the ability of chlorophyll in plants to capture light and turn it into electricity.

These cells, named Gratzel cells after him, are inexpensive, flexible and can work in low-light conditions.

Prof Gratzel, who is Swiss, is now leading a team of researchers at the Nanyang Technological University's Centre for Nanostructured Photosystems. He has more than 1,000 publications and 50 patents under his belt, and is one of the top 10 most-cited chemists in the world.

He received the Millennium Technology Prize in 2010 for his work on solar cells, and was awarded the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2012, and the Marcel Benoist Prize in 2013.


PROFESSOR GERARD 'T HOOFT, 69

The Dutch theoretical physicist and Utrecht University professor shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1999 with his PhD supervisor and fellow Dutchman, Professor Martinus Veltman, for their theoretical work on how to calculate the physical properties of sub-atomic particles.

It was used to predict the mass of a sub-atomic particle, the top quark, which was experimentally verified only 20 years later.

Prof 't Hooft is one of the first scientists to be awarded the Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands.

He has also written a book, translated from Dutch into English by his daughter, titled Playing With Planets, in which he explores possibilities for the future that appear to come from the world of science fiction, such as space elevators and floating cities.


Lester Hio

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline '(No headline) - LHSUMMIT18B'. Print Edition | Subscribe