Dr Andrew Tridgell

Dr Andrew Tridgell
Dr Andrew Tridgell

Dr Andrew Tridgell was awarded a Doctor of Science in the afternoon Conferring of Awards ceremony on Tuesday, 11 December. 

Here is the citation that was read out prior to him receiving his Honorary Degree.

Chancellor, it is my privilege to present to you for a degree of the University, Dr Andrew Tridgell.

Dr Tridgell has made exceptional contributions to computer science through open and free software.

He is one of Australia’s most innovative and celebrated computer scientists and is internationally renowned for his contribution to software that is used by millions of people every day.

In 2003, the Bulletin magazine said Dr Tridgell was Australia’s smartest person in information and communications technology.

As well, The Australian newspaper described Dr Tridgell as ‘a bit of a legend’ in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles

When he was doing his PhD here at ANU in 1991, he developed a program called Samba. It allows Unix computers to communicate with Windows computers, to share files and printers. Now that program is widely used by millions of machines around the world, including by banks, governments and universities.

It should be noted that Dr Tridgell has not sought to profit from the Samba program.

As part of his doctorate, he also developed Rsync, with his supervisor Paul Mackerras. It is a widely used tool that uses an ingenious algorithm for transferring large numbers of files between computers.

The algorithm was developed in the days of dial-up modems to transfer files between computers, for instance, for safekeeping after the day’s work. The algorithm cleverly worked out which files were changed and then transmitted just the changes, rather than all the files involved. That massively reduced the amount of data that needed to be transferred, and is in use around the world in ways most of us are completely unaware. 

In addition to leading major projects during his career, Dr Tridgell has been a passionate advocate for open source software. An example is his role in the European Union’s successful antitrust settlement with Microsoft in 2008.

Since 2011, Dr Tridgell has been heavily involved in the development of software for controlling unmanned aerial vehicles - UAVs or drones.

Alongside his influence in this software domain, he has been involved in practical initiatives, including helping the CanberraUAV non-profit organisation win the international UAV search and rescue challenge three times.

He has also worked with non-government organisations who use UAVs for missions to stop animal poaching in Africa.

Dr Tridgell has given guest lectures at ANU and, for many years, ran a course on free and open source software development.

Chancellor, it is with pleasure that I present to you Dr Andrew Tridgell that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Science honoris causa for his exceptional contributions to computer science through open and free software.

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