“I had always thought–even after I had my PhD–that I would work for a while and then I might stop,” she says. “When I had a family, I might stop. Sometime while I was at Mitre, I realized that I wasn’t going to be willing to do that.” Her husband, Nathan Liskov ‘60, an electrical engineer whom she married in 1970, supported that decision, even after Moses was born in 1975.
But Liskov made it a priority to cultivate a rich set of interests outside the workplace, including gardening and reading mystery novels (she particularly likes Tony Hillerman). “I’ve organized my workweek so that when I’m working I’m very intense, but when I go home I stop,” she says.
Her son confirms that when she wasn’t at MIT or in her office at home, she wasn’t working. Nor did she spend much time on the home computer, though the household got its first quite early, in 1983. Almost everything Moses learned about computers as a child came from his father, he says: “My mom is a great thinker about computers, and my dad is an actual user of them.” For all her deep understanding of systems and methodologies, she would sometimes have to call on her husband for help getting a document to print.
Her friends have put a lot of effort in recent years into making sure Liskov gets the acclaim that she never seeks. Guttag, for one, is convinced that she could have won the Turing Award a decade ago. But while Liskov is deeply grateful for the award, she sometimes seems uncomfortable with the attention. Her son recalls her talking incredulously about having to spend an entire workday posing for pictures. She went out to dinner with family to celebrate receiving the award last June, but she seemed relieved when the furor passed, allowing her to return to the research that has always driven her.