Sunday, October 02, 2005


The Nobel Prizes will be announced this week and I predict that no one will win the Nobel Prize in computer science for the 105th consecutive year. Computer Science's highest honor, the Turing Award will be announced in early 2006 (February 16 last year).

We also have some awards coming up for theorists. At every third STOC/FOCS conference, the Knuth Prize is given for outstanding sustained contributions to theoretical computer science. We will find out the next winner at the upcoming FOCS Conference in a couple of weeks.

Every four years the International Math Union awards the Nevanlinna Prize for contributions in "mathematical aspects of information sciences" to a scientist under forty. The previous winners have all been computer science theorists and we have several excellent candidates for the 2006 prize as well.

ACM SIGACT sponsors or co-sponsors several other awards such as the Gödel Prize given to the best recent journal paper (where the definition of "recent" keeps changing) and the Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award given to theorists whose work had practical applications.


  1. Lance, are you implying any direct knowledge of the nominees for the Nevanlinna prize? If a person is on the prize selection committee, can his/her name be revealed (even if indirectly) before ICM 2006? Of course, you can perhaps use only the name of that person's _spouse_ and legally not be liable :-)

  2. I don't have any inside knowledge but given what the prize aims for, Manindra Agrawal ought to be a strong candidate. Ditto for Wang, the cryptographer who broke SHA1 and MD5.

  3. So who's likely to be the next Turing Award candidate(s)? The past 4 years
    have seen awards being handed out to some superb inventions in software engineering/productivity, and stuff related to the web. Who's likely the next candidate? Tim Berners Lee?

  4. Tim is an obvious candidate, but probably not in the very near future. The prize tends to be awarded not just for impact but also in the fair "order" (by time of the work that won the award). Under that way of reasoning, you would expect some sort of award for the Internet itself before you could ever see an award to Tim. For example, perhaps Reed and Clark for the End-to-End argument (a core design principle that, some believe, made the Internet possible). But Tim would presumably be a likely candidate eventually.

    Seems like it would be about time for the award to go to a woman. So another way to speculate would be to ask whether, for example, the Fischer Lynch and Patterson result might merit a Turing Award (which would, therefore, go to Nancy Lynch). The prize is typically given in reference to some specific paper and there are many cases of them giving two prizes in the same year, so three is possible (even if it might be a stretch).