Dana Scott studied at the University of California, Berkeley (Bachelor of Arts 1954). He then received his doctorate at Princeton University (PhD 1958), where his advisor was Alonzo Church. Scott subsequently taught at the University of Chicago (1958-60) and then returned to Berkeley to become an Assistant and then Associate Professor (1960-63). He taught Logic and Mathematics at Stanford University as an Associate Professor (1963-67), before he was promoted to Full Professor (1967-69). Between 1968 and 1969 he held a visiting professorship in Amsterdam. Back in the U.S., he taught Philosophy and Mathematics at Princeton University (1969-72), and then went on to be the first Professor of Mathematical Logic at Oxford University (1972-81).
Scott received the Turing Award of the Association of Computing Machinery (1976), along with Michael O. Rabin, for their joint paper, "Finite Automata and Their Decision Problem," which introduced the idea of nondeterministic machines. The joint work on finite-state automata with Michael Rabin was carried out in 1957 during a summer research internship at IBM Research, in Yorktown Heights, NY, building on earlier work by Myhill, Nerode, and Kleene. Scott subsequently became an internationally recognized mathematical logician whose work has spanned computer science, mathematics, and philosophy. He has made seminal contributions to automata theory, modal logic, model theory, set theory, and the theory of programming languages. He has also made fundamental contributions to contemporary logic, and is known for his creation of domain theory, a branch of mathematics that is essential for analyzing computer programming languages.
He taught Computer Science, Mathematical Logic and Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University (1981-89), before becoming Hillman Professor of Computer Science (1989-2003). He also taught Symbolic Computation and Logic for one year (1992-93) at the University of Linz, Austria. He became Professor Emeritus in July of 2003. Over the years, he has supervised the PhD theses of 51 graduate students, some solely, some jointly. He has been awarded the following research fellowships over the years: Bell Telephone Fellow, Princeton University (1956-57); Miller Institute Fellow, University of California, Berkeley (1960-61); Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (1963-65); Guggenheim Foundation Fellow (1978-79); Visiting Scientist, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (1978-79); Professorial Fellow, Merton College, Oxford (1972-1981); Visiting Professor, Institut Mittag-Leffler, Sweden (Spring 2001); and Humbolt Stiftung Senior Visiting Scientist, Munich, Germany (Fall 2003). Scott holds the following Academy/Association Fellowships: Academia Europaea, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Mathematical Society, Association for Computing Machinery, British Academy, Finnish Academy of Sciences and Letters, New York Academy of Sciences, and the US National Academy of Sciences. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 2014. With honorary doctorates from the Rijksuniversiteit Utrecht (1986), the Technical University of Darmstadt (1995), the University of Edinburgh (1995), the University of Ljubljana (2003), and St Andrews University, Scotland, (2014), Scott has also received among other awards the Leroy P. Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society (1972), the Harold Pender Award, University of Pennsylvania (1990), the Rolf Schock Prize in Logic and Philosophy, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (1997), the Bolzano Medal for Merit in the Mathematical Sciences awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences (2001), and the Gold Medal of the Sobolev Institute of Mathematics, Novosibirsk, Russia (2009).
Since his retirement, he and his wife, Irene, have now resided in Berkeley since 2005.