Best known for the invention, design and commercial realisation of the transputer and the parallel programming language called ‘occam’, David May was responsible for turning the word ‘transputer’ into a practical reality. The transputer was the first microprocessor designed to support parallel processing and embodied a novel and cost-effective concept of synchronised communication between processes, which was researched in David’s earlier EPL programming language.
Working at Inmos, he was the architect of several transputer devices, incorporating many of his patented inventions. Simultaneously, he designed and developed the requisite associated programming language, occam. This gave rise to a user community of over 5,000 members in 50 countries.
David pioneered the use of formal mathematical methods to verify the design of microprocessors, starting with the floating point transputer, introduced in 1987. He recognised the need for high performance interconnections in parallel computers and initiated the design of one of the first integrated circuit packet switches. David has continued to work on innovative microprocessors, and in 2005 he co-founded XMOS, which supplies microprocessors to customers worldwide.
Professor of Computer Science, Department of Computer Science, University of Bristol
Interests and expertise
high performance computing,
history of computing,