ACM Turing Award fund quadrupled by Google

November 14, 2014 // 12:40 p.m.

Tags: #alan-turing #turing

Google has stumped up the funds to boost the annual Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) A. M. Turing Award to $1 million, four times its previous level.

Sometimes referred to as the 'Nobel Prize of computing,' the ACM A. M. Turing award is named for noted British polymath Alan Turing, known for his seminal works on early computing including the development of a machine which broke German ciphers during the Second World War. Popularly, his most famous creation was the concept of a test that would ascertain whether a machine could 'think' by having it pass as a human during typed conversation - the so-called Turing Test, which was the inspiration for the CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing-test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) system used to limit robotic sign-ups on websites.

Following prosecution for homosexuality, illegal at the time in the UK, Turing died in 1954 at the age of just 41 and with most of his incredible achievements still classified by the government. The ACM, the world's largest educational and scientific computing society, has been honouring the man with the annual award that bears his name since 1966. Granted to computer scientists and engineers who have had the biggest impact in their field, the prize fund has previously sat at $250,000. Now, thanks to Google, that has been quadrupled to $1 million.

'The Turing Award is now funded at the monetary level of the world's most prestigious cultural and scientific awards and prizes,' crowed ACM president Alexander Wolf, a professor in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, of the new funding. 'With the generous support of Google, we can celebrate the mainstream role of computing in transforming the world and the way we communicate, conduct business, and access entertainment. We can also commemorate the pioneering, fundamental contributions of our ACM Turing Award recipients in advancing computing as a science and a profession.'

'Google is proud to support ACM's Turing Award,' added Google's Stuart Feldman, vice president of engineering. 'We think it’s important to recognise when people make fundamental contributions in computer science, and we want to help ACM raise awareness of these innovators and the contributions they’ve made to the world.'

Previous winners of the ACM Turing Award include LaTeX creator Lesie Lamport for the development of modelling and verification protocols to improve the performance and reliability of computer systems, Chuck Thacker for his work on the design and creation of the Xerox PARC Alto - recognised as the first truly modern personal computer, and the inspiration for Apple's Mac family and Microsoft's Windows platform - along with Smalltalk developer Alan Kay, mouse inventor and hypertext pioneer Douglas Englebart, and Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson who jointly won the award in 1983 for their work on the Unix operating system.

More details of the ACM A. M. Turing Award are available on the official website.
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