Teachers Probably Didn't Know About This Too! Did You Know That The First Woman to Earn a PhD in Computer Science Was a Nun?

Here at cavitenio.com, we already featured extra ordinary women who made great impact in history. At this post, we will feature another woman but what makes her more special is that she is a NUN.

Sister Mary Kenneth Keller, according to history books, is the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Computer Science (1965).

Keller entered the Sisters of Charity in 1932. She studied at DePaul University where she received a B.S. In Math and M.S. in Mathematics and Physics.

Keller continued her studies at the University of Wisconsin (1960s).  It was also recorded that she studied at Purdue, University of Michigan and Darthmouth College. It was in Darthmouth where Keller started to develop the computer language BASIC. Before BASIC, only mathematicians and scientists could write custom software; BASIC allowed anyone who could learn the language to do so, making computer use accessible to a much larger swath of the population.

Her dissertation which was written in CDC FORTRAN 63 was titled "Inductive Inference on Computer Generated Patterns."

Keller  then founded the computer science department at Clarke College in Iowa. She served 20 years at this department as the director.

Sister Keller envisioned a world in which computers made people smarter and learned to think on their own. Keller said, “For the first time, we can now mechanically simulate the cognitive process. We can make studies in artificial intelligence. Beyond that, this mechanism [the computer] can be used to assist humans in learning. As we are going to have more mature students in greater numbers as time goes on, this type of teaching will probably be increasingly important.”



Ashleigh Walls said...

What an amazing accomplishment for women! Wonderful to spread that knowledge.

Elizabeth O. said...

That's so awesome! I didn't expect this mostly because I never thought they would be interested in the subject. Very cool and admirable!

Patrice Foster said...

Interesting facts.... Learn a lot very inspiring .

Annemarie LeBlanc said...

Wow. I did not know about this! Its amazing to know that it was a nun who first earned a PhD in Computer Science! I learned something new today

CourtneyLynne said...

OMG now that's a neat story!!! I love interesting facts like this. I follow abunch of fact Twitter pages!