Kristen Nygaard bibliography

This page contains a (very incomplete) annotated bibliography of books, articles and working notes related to the work of professor Kristen Nygaard (1926-2002) in the field of informatics.


Birtwistle, Graham M., Ole-Johan Dahl, Bjørn Myhrhaug, and Kristen Nygaard (1973). Simula begin, Studentlitteratur, Lund, Sweden.

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Also published by Bratt Institut fuer neues Lernen, Goch, GDR and Chartwell-Bratt Ltd., Bromley, England.

Bjerknes, Gro; Pelle Ehn og Morten Kyng (eds.) (1987). Computers and Democracy, Avebury (434 pages).

This seminal book is dedicated to Kristen Nygaard. It consists of a selection of some of the contributions originally presented at the conference «Development and use of Computer-based Systems and Tools in the context of democratization of work» that took place at the Computer Science Department at Aarhus University (Denmark) August 19-23, 1985. The book is organized around four themes: «Systems Design and Industrial Democracy», «Skills and Automation», «Not Only Waged Men», and «Future Perspectives». Its main purpose is to compare the Scandinavian approach to computer system design and development with with related work abroad. Notes by Gisle Hannemyr (2002).

Lehrmann Madsen, Ole; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard (1993). Object Oriented Programming in the BETA Programming Language, Addison Wesley.

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Nygaard, Kristen and Olav Terje Bergo (1973). Planlegging, styring og databehandling. Grunnbok for fagbevegelsen. Part I & II. Norsk Forlag, Oslo.

The title means «Planning, Control and Data Processing. Basic reader for Trade Unions». This book (published in two volumes) is written as a practical introduction for trade union officers about how to deal with (introduction of) information technology into the workplace.


Berntsen, Drude; Knut Elgsaas and Håvard Hegna (2010) The Many Dimensions of Kristen Nygaard, Creator of Object-Oriented Programming and the Scandinavian School of System Development. In: A. Tatnall: History of Computing. Learning from the Past. IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology., Vol. 325, pp. 38-49. Springer, Boston.

Professor Kristen Nygaard (1926-2002) was a multi-talented scientist whose achievements were amply honoured in his later years. For general readers of Computer Science history Nygaard will be recognized as the creator with Professor Ole-Johan Dahl of the SIMULA programming languages and object-oriented programming. But Nygaard also had a social and political engagement that over the years brought him from a liberal-democratic to a socialist position where solidarity and empowerment were the major chords. This paper gives a condensed descriptive tour of the life of this many-sided computer scientist with an emphasis on how the scientific and political sides of Nygaard worked hand in hand, leading to his active cooperation with the trade unions and making him a strong advocator of the Scandinavian School of System Development and Participatory Design.

Bjerknes, Gro and Bratteteig, Tone (1995) User Participation and Democracy: A Discussion of Scandinavian Research on System Development. Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 7(1), pp. 73-98.

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Floyd, Christiane et al (1989). Out of Scandinavia: Alternative Approaches to Software Design and System Development. Human-Computer Interaction, 4(4), 253-350.

This paper established the term «Scandinavian Approach» (sometimes also referred to as «Scandinavian School») to denote the type of participatory design pioneered by Nygaard and others. Includes descriptions of several of the classic first and second generation participatory design projects including the Norwegian Iron and Metal Workers project, DEMOS, DUE, Utopia, and Florence. The article is especially informative in terms of the history and roots of participatory design in Scandinavia. Notes by Randy Trigg (1995).

Holmevik, Jan Rune (1994). Compiling Simula: A historical study of technological genesis. IEEE Annals of history of Computing; Vol. 16(4) pp. 25-37.

This article traces the history of the programming language Simula from 1950s into the 1970s, focusing in particular on the formative years between 1962 and 1967. It offers no technical appraisal of the language per se. Rather, it is a sociotechnical analysis aimed at exploring the broader history of the project. The article asserts that technological change should be studied in a contextual perspective. Thus the politics surrounding the project and the prehistory of Simula are given ample attention.
There is also two different versions from 1994 and 1995. Both these versions have an epilogue titled «Power to the people» that also discusses the political aspects of the Simula project.

Håndlykken, Petter and Kristen Nygaard (1980). The Delta System Description Language: Motivation, Main Concepts, and Experience from Use. In: H. Hünke (ed.) Proceedings of the Symposium on Software Engineering Environments in Lahnstein, Germany, June 16-20, 1980. North-Holland, Amsterdam.

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Kristensen, Bent Bruun; Ole Lehrmann Madsen; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard (1983). Abstraction Mechanisms in the BETA Programming Language. In: Proceedings of the Tenth ACM Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages; 1983-01-24 - 1983-01-26.

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Kristensen, Bent Bruun; Ole Lehrmann Madsen; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard (1985). Multisequential Execution in the BETA Programming Language. SIGPLAN notices 1985; Vol. 20(4).

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Kristensen, Bent Bruun; Ole Lehrmann Madsen; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard (1985). An Algebra for Program Fragments. ACM SIGPLAN 85 Symposium on Programming Languages and Programming Environments; 1985-06-01 - 1985-06-05.

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Kristensen, Bent Bruun; Ole Lehrmann Madsen; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard (1987). The BETA Programming Language. In: Bruce Shriver (ed.) Research Directions in Object Oriented Programming. MIT Press 1987.

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Kristensen, Bent Bruun; Ole Lehrmann Madsen; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard (1987). Classification of Actions or Inheritance also for Methods. First European Conference on Object Oriented Programming, ECOOP'87; 1987-06-17 - 1987-06-19.

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Kristensen, Bent Bruun; Ole Lehrmann Madsen; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard (1988). Coroutine Sequencing in BETA. Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences; 1988-01-05 - 1988-01-07.

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Kristensen, Bent Bruun, Ole Lehrmann Madsen and Birger Møller-Pedersen (2007). The when, why and why not of the BETA programming language. In: Proceedings of the third ACM SIGPLAN conference on History of programming languages.

This paper tells the story of the development of BETA: a programming language with just one abstraction mechanism, instead of one abstraction mechanism for each kind of program element (classes, types, procedures, functions, etc.). The paper explains how this single abstraction mechanism, the pattern, came about and how it was designed to be so powerful that it covered the other mechanisms.
In addition to describing the technical challenge of capturing all programming elements with just one abstraction mechanism, the paper also explains how the language was based upon a modeling approach, so that it could be used for analysis, design and implementation. It also illustrates how this modeling approach guided and settled the design of specific language concepts.
The paper compares the BETA programming language with other languages and explains how such a minimal language can still support modeling, even though it does not have some of the language mechanisms found in other object-oriented languages.
Finally, the paper tries to convey the organization, working conditions and social life around the BETA project, which turned out to be a lifelong activity for Kristen Nygaard, the authors of this paper, and many others.

Madsen, Ole Lehrmann; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard. (1989). Tutorial: The BETA Programming Language A Scandinavian Approach to Object-Oriented Programming. OOPSLA '89; 1989-10-02 - 1989-10-06,

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Madsen, Ole Lehrmann; Birger Møller-Pedersen and Kristen Nygaard. (1990). Tutorial: An Introduction to BETA. OOPSLA & ECOOP '90; 1990-10-21 - 1990-10-25.

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Nygaard, Kristen and Olav Terje Bergo (1975). The Trade Unions. New Users of Research. Personnel Rewiev, 4(2).

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Nygaard, Kristen (1975). Kunnskaps-strategi for fagbevegelsen. Nordisk Forum, 10(2), 15-27.

The title means «Skills strategy for the trade unions». This article is important as a historical resource for understanding the roots of participatory design and the trade union-based collective resource approach in Scandinavia. It was written at the close of the oft-cited project with the Norwegian Iron and Metalworkers association of trade unions (NJMF). It covers primarily the goals of the researchers and union representatives at the start of the project, how those changed over the 2 1/2 year course of the collaboration, and an appraisal of the results. Notes by Randy Trigg (1995)

Nygaard, Kristen (1977). The Iron and Metal Project. Trade Union Participation. Proceedings of the CREST Conference on Management Information Systems 1977. London, Cambridge University Press.

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Nygaard, Kristen and Ole-Johan Dahl (1978), The Development of the SIMULA Languages. ACM Sigplan Notices 13(8) August, 245-272. Also in: R. Wexelblat, (ed.), History of Programming Languages, 439-493. Academic Press, 1981.

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Nygaard, Kristen (1979). Tasks, Roles and Interests of Information System Specialists in the 1980s. Lecture at CREST Course «Information Systems, Organizational Choice, Social Values», Universita Di Pisa, April 1979.

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Nygaard, Kristen and Petter Håndlykken (1980), The system development process – its setting, some problems, and needs for methods. In: H. Hünke (ed.) Proceedings of the Symposium on Software Engineering Environments in Lahnstein, Germany, June 16-20, 1980. North-Holland, Amsterdam.

Building on Lars Mathiasens's notions of hierachical structure-process relationships, the authors argue that system development can be viewed as a series of processes (transformations) and structures (restrictions on process states). It can be seen as a precursor the spiral model for iterative system development introduced by Boehm in 1986.

Nygaard, Kristen and Pål Sørgaard (1985). The Perspective Concept in Informatics. In: Preceedings of the Aarhus 1985 Working Conference on Development and Use of Systems and Tools, Aarhus University, Denmark. Also in: Bjerknes et al (eds.) Computers and Democracy, Avebury (1987), pp. 371-393.

The concept of perspective is presented and related to the research object informatics (Nygaards preferred term for computer science.) The article first introduces basic concepts and definitions underlying the discipline of informatics and object oriented programming. It then proceeds to discuss the political dimension of technology projects through perspectives of harmony and conflict (as introduced by Åke Sandberg).

Nygaard, Kristen (1986). Program Development as a Social Activity In: H.-J. Kugler (ed.) Information Processing 86, Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. (North Holland), IFIP, 1986 (Proceedings from the IFIP 10th World Computer Congress, Dublin, Ireland, September 1-5, 1986), pp. 189-198.

This paper pulls together a number of the core ideas from Nygaards earlier work and establish the foundation for his ideas about “informatics” as a science grounded in the Scandinavian trade union and user participation oriented school in System Development. In particular it argues the societal and political aspects of information technology, while at the same time arguing that it is not possible to understand the social impact of information technology “from the outside”, without understanding the techology itself. Core ideas presented are: Informatics as a science that has as its domain information processes and related phenomena in artifacts, society and nature. The processes (transformations) and structures (restrictions on process states) that should be studied within the field of informatics. The notion of a system with users and their roles. The perspective concept in informatics.

Nygaard, Kristen: Profession Oriented Languages (1989). In: P. Bøgh Andersen and T. Bratteteig (eds.) SYDPOL Program working group 2: Computers and language at work: the relevance of language and language use in development of computer systems. Research Report Series. Vol. 126, Institute of Computer Science. University of Oslo, Norway.

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Nygaard, Kristen, 1992: How Many Choices Do We Make? How Many Are Difficult? In: Floyd et al (eds.) Proceedings from Software Development and Reality Construction, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 52-59

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Nygaard, Kristen (1996). «Those were the days»? Or «Heroic times are here again»? Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, Vol. 8(2), pp. 91-108.

Informal opening lecture at the IRIS conference of August 1996. Lots of good stories from Nygaard's life including a description of the Iron and Metalworkers Union project in the early 1970's. Closes with challenges for the future.

Nygaard, Kristen (1997). GOODS to Appear on the Stage. In: Aksit, M., Matsuoka, S. (eds.) ECOOP 1997. LNCS, Vol. 1241, p. 131. Springer, Heidelberg.

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Nygaard, Kristen (1999). An Information Process Based Approach to Object Oriented Programming and Informatics, TOOLS Asia '99; 1999-09-23.

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Nygaard, Kristen (1999). Political and Social Impacts. ICL/University of Newcastle International Seminar on The teaching of Computing Science at University Level; 1999-09-10

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Nygaard, Kristen (1999). What is Informatics? Why is the Scandinavian Approach to Information Systems Research a Necessary Part of the Science? European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS) '99; 1999-06-23

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Øvrelid, Egil (2016). Kristen Nygaards teknologiske konstruksjon av arbeidsplassdemokrati; Index #2 May; UiO

The article discusses the origins of the «Scandinavian approach to system development» in such disciplines as operations analysis, simulation and sociotechnical systems, and how this approach differs from these origins.


Dahl, Ole-Johan and Kristen Nygaard (1965). SIMULA - a Language for Programming and Description of Discrete Event Systems. Norwegian Computing Center; NCC Pub. No. 11.

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Dahl, Ole-Johan, Bjørn Myhrhaug, and Kristen Nygaard. (1967) SIMULA 67 Common Base Language. Norwegian Computing Center; Pub. S-2.

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Fjellheim, Roar, Petter Håndlykken and Kristen Nygaard (1974). Report from a Seminar on System Description at «Skogen», Røros. Norwegian Computing Center; Delta Project Rapport No 2, Publ. S-65.

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Holbæk-Hanssen, Erik, Petter Håndlykken and Kristen Nygaard (1975). System Description and the DELTA Language. Norwegian Computing Center Delta Project Report No. 4, Publ. 523.

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Nygaard, Kristen (1970). System Description By SIMULA – An Introduction. Norwegian Computing Center Publ. S-35.

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Nygaard, Kristen (1976). DELTA-prosjektet og dets tilknytning til problemene systemutvikling. Norwegian Computing Center; DELTA Project Report No 5.

The title means «The DELTA Project and Its Relation to Problems in System Development». The report main focus is participation of user groups in system development. It argues that this should be an ongoing process, not be delimited to intermittent periods of activities related to specific systems. The content and design of such long range processes are in particular discussed in the context of the role of interest groups (e.g. trade unions) and functional roles.

Nygaard, Kristen and Jostein Fjalestad (1979). Group Interests and Participation in Information System Development. Paper presented to «Special Session on Microelectronics, Productivity and Employment». OECD, Paris, Nov.27-29 1979. Norwegian Computing Center; Report.

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Nygaard, Kristen et al (2001). Rådgivende gruppe for den digitale allemannsretten. Sluttrapport.

This is the report from an advisory group on the digital commons established by the Norwegian Govenment in november 1999. The group was chaired by Kristen Nygaard. The report discusses how to establish equal and low cost to digital broadband services for all in Norway, with particular emphasis on how to make such services available in rural areas where the a market driven approach alone will not be effective.


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