Canadian Association of Computer Science
Association informatique canadienne
Award for Lifetime Achievement
in Computer Science – 2015

Tom Hull

Department of Computer Science
University of Toronto


Tom Hull (1922-1996) was an outstanding scholar who made a lasting contribution to his discipline through novel research contributions, educating generations of university students, founding scientific journals and a society, and designing curricula for high school, undergraduate and graduate students. In addition, Tom was an incredibly gifted university administrator who chaired the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto during its formative years. Largely through his recruiting and retention efforts, his vision and his leadership, DCS at UofT has become and remains one of the top-10 computer science departments in North America.


“Thomas E. Hull of the U. of Toronto has been one of the leading workers in numerical methods for ordinary differential equations for the best part of 40 years. Not only has he made many personal contributions, but he has also built up a research school in this subject that is second to none.” [John Butcher, editor, Numerical Mathematics, Vol. 22, Nos. 1-3, 1996]


Tom graduated 8 Ph.D. and 31 Masters students, and was a role model for dozens more. He chaired the ACM Committee on Graduate Education, was the only representative from a Canadian university on the ACM Committee that prepared Curriculum 68, and was a member of the Province of Ontario Department of Education's CS Study Committee. Together with co-authors, Tom wrote seven textbooks for high school or university students that played a very important role in establishing computer science as an academic discipline in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Scientific Leader

Tom played an influential role in developing the research environment for scientific computing, holding leadership positions in SIAM and founding and running several SIAM and ACM journals. He also played a key role in creating the Canadian Applied Mathematics Society (CAMS). Tom was deeply involved in the NRC (the predecessor of NSERC), helping establish the existing funding structure for Canadian Computer Science.

Department Builder

Tom Hull set off to build the top computer science department in Canada. He recruited some of the most talented young computer scientists from around the world, including Allan Borodin, Steve Cook, Dennis Tsichritzis and Jim Horning, and created the fair and supportive research environment that helped them thrive. He established a unique collaboration with the Electrical Engineering department (CSRG) that helped propel the Toronto Systems group to be among the very best in the world. He recruited and helped train a generation of future Computer Science leaders including Ed Lazowska (UW), John Gannon (UMD), Maria Klawe (UBC, Princeton, Harvey Mudd) and John Guttag (MIT).

Tom Hull received many awards and honours, including election to the Royal Society of Canada in 1971; an Honorary Doctorate from Dalhousie University in 1987; and election as an ACM Fellow in 1994.