Prof. David Harel was born in England in 1950 and immigrated to Israel at the age of seven. In 1971, following his military service in a paratroop unit, he began studying mathematics and computer science at Bar-Ilan University. He completed his M.Sc. in 1976 at Tel-Aviv University, and in May 1978 he completed his PhD at MIT. He then worked at the IBM Research Center for two years, and upon his return to Israel in 1980 he joined the staff of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at the Weizmann Institute.For five years he was Head of the Department and for seven years Den of the Faculty.
For over thirty-five years he has been working on a variety of topics within computer science, spanning a wide range of subjects, among them logic and computability, software and systems engineering, graphical structures and visual languages, as well as on the modeling and analysis of biological systems. His thesis within the field of logic of programs paved the way for many studies, while setting the highest standards of precision and mathematical depth. His most important studies in the theory of computer science deal with query languages for databases, and have become influential and significant far beyond the field itself. His greatest research achievement, at least as far as its influence within the academic and industrial worlds is concerned, is within the field of software and systems engineering. He started working in this field in 1983 when called upon to consult for the Lavi project of the Israel Aircraft Industries. There he identified the main problem in system development in general, and in software systems in particular, and invented the language of Statecharts. Together with Amir Pnueli he later coined the term “Reactive Systems”.
Alongside his work as a researcher, he has been invited to deliver lectures in a wide variety of scientific conferences, as well as to the general public and youth. He constructed and delivered a series of lectures on Galei Zahal, and a series of programs for the Israeli educational television. Over the years he served as a member of various committees and councils within computer science and science education, including ones at the Ministry of Education and the Open University. His work has won him many distinctions and prizes, among them the Israel Prize for Computer Science (2004).