Linus Torvalds inspiring department students

Linus Torvalds – alumnus of the department, doctor honoris causa of the University of Helsinki, the best known representative of Finnish computer science internationally – visited the Kumpula campus on 23 October. He answered the questions of students and staff during an informal Q&A session attended by some 300 guests. As the floor was open, and Torvalds emphasized that all questions were welcomed, the queries ranged from extreme to extreme

 -- from the most beautiful code in Linux to the classical conflict between free and open source code.  Torvalds replied: ‘there is very little beautiful code in the core; some of it is downright scary' and ‘the debate is still on-going, but that Torvalds guy won.’

Photo by Millennium Technology Prize / TAF


The large auditorium at the department was full and the discussion lively (photo by Tuomas Puikkonen).

Torvalds had nothing but good memories of studying at the Helsinki University Department of Computer Science, where he, according to his own words, was given pretty free reign to work on Linux. He praised the Finnish education system and did not consider the top universities of the world to hold any special advantage over the University of Helsinki. However, he stressed that, if the chance arises, students should visit Stanford or other universities.

Before the session, Linus Torvalds sampled the ambience of the break room (photo by Tuomas Puikkonen).

There is a short (1:06 min) video compilation with subtitles of Linus Torvalds sharing his views on the birth of Linux, programming, and programming languages (video by Sakari Tolppanen, editing by Jaakko Turkka/LUMA centre).

The video of the whole session (83:27 min) is available in the department’s video archive:

Our sincerest thanks for organising the visit go to the awarder of the Millennium Technology Prize, the Technology Academy Finland.


Created date

21.11.2012 - 15:15

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Sasu Tarkoma, professor of computer science, has been exemplary in promoting collaboration between the University of Helsinki and the corporate world, the university states as the reasoning behind the prize.

He has brought the university new funding through corporate collaboration, and has opened up new avenues in teaching and open data. In addition, Professor Tarkoma participates in university-based startup work, says Vice-Rector Pertti Panula, who gave away the prize.

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