Computing Applications News

Thacker Wins Turing Award

Microsoft's Charles P. Thacker named 56th recipient of ACM's A.M. Turing Award.
  1. Introduction
  2. ACM A.M. Turing Award
  3. CRA Distinguished Service
  4. Theoretical CS Awards
  5. Women of Vision Awards
  6. Author
  7. Footnotes
  8. Figures
2009 ACM A.M. Turing Award winner Charles P. Thacker
2009 ACM A.M. Turing Award winner Charles P. Thacker

Awards for scientific excellence were recently announced by ACM, SIGACT, the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science, the Computing Research Association, and the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology to honor select scientists for their contributions to computer science.

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ACM A.M. Turing Award

Charles P. Thacker, a technical fellow at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, is the recipient of the 2009 ACM A.M. Turing Award for pioneering work that led to the design and realization of the Alto in 1974, the first modern PC and the prototype for networked personal computers. Thacker is also honored for his contributions to the Ethernet local area network, which he co-invented in 1973; the first multiprocessor workstation; and the prototype for today’s most-used tablet PC, with capabilities for direct user interaction.

Thacker created and collaborated on what would become the fundamental building blocks of the PC business. “Charles Thacker’s contributions have earned him a reputation as one of the most distinguished computer systems engineers in the history of the field,” said ACM President Professor Dame Wendy Hall. “His enduring achievements—from his initial innovations on the PC to his leadership in hardware development of the multiprocessor workstation to his role in developing the tablet PC—have profoundly affected the course of modern computing.”

The Turing Award, long recognized as the Nobel Prize in computing, includes a $250,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corp. and Google Inc.

An in-depth profile and interview with Thacker is scheduled for the July issue of Communications.

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CRA Distinguished Service

The Computing Research Association honored Moshe Y. Vardi, a professor of computer science at Rice University and editor-in-chief of Communications of the ACM, with its 2010 Distinguished Service Award. Vardi was nominated for two fundamental contributions to the computing research community. The first was leading the effort to produce a definitive report on offshoring, Globalization and Offshoring of Software, which has contributed significantly to debunking myths about the future health of the computing field. His second contribution was leading the effort to redefine Communications with the goal of engaging the computing research community to create a compelling magazine for computing.

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Theoretical CS Awards

David S. Johnson of AT&T Labs is the recipient of ACM SIGACT’s 2009 Knuth Prize for his contributions to theoretical and experimental analysis of algorithms, and Kurt Mehlhorn of the Max Planck Institute is the recipient of the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science’s EATCS Award for his distinguished career in theoretical computer science.

“One cannot imagine NP-completeness without David Johnson,” Lance Fortnow, a professor of computer science at Northwestern University (and SIGACT chair), told Communications. “He developed much of the early theory, helping us deal with NP-complete problems via approximation and experimental algorithms. Johnson promoted theory through SIGACT, the Symposium on Discrete Algorithms, and the DIMACS Implementation Challenges. His legendary reference book on NP-completeness with Michael Garey is an invaluable part of nearly every computer scientist’s library.

“Kurt Mehlhorn has done fundamental research in algorithmic theory, including problems from geometry, algebra, graph theory, combinatorial optimization, parallel computing, and VLSI,” said Fortnow. “With Stefan Näher, Mehlhorn developed LEDA, the Library of Efficient Data types and Algorithms, providing researchers and businesses with theoretical analyses and implementations of a broad collection of algorithms in geometry, graph theory, and cryptography.”

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Women of Vision Awards

The Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology has named Kathleen R. McKeown, Kristina M. Johnson, and Lila Ibrahim as recipients of the 2010 Women of Vision Awards. McKeown, a computer science professor at Columbia University, is the winner in the innovation category. Johnson, the under secretary for the U.S. Department of Energy and the dean of Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, is the winner in the leadership category. Ibrahim, general manager of Intel’s Emerging Markets Platform Group, is the winner in the social impact category.

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UF1 Figure. Turing Award winner Charles P. Thacker

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