Computing Applications ACM awards committee

The Work of ACM’s Awards Committee

  1. Introduction
  2. The Award Process
  3. A Work in Progress
  4. Authors
  5. Footnotes

ACM established its first award—the A.M. Turing Award—in 1966. This honor is given annually to an individual whose contributions to the computing community are deemed of major and lasting technical importance. Today ACM’s prestigious Turing Award is widely considered throughout the industry as the "Nobel Prize of computing," and carries a prize of $250,000 funded by Intel and Google.

ACM currently sponsors over 100 awards for technical and professional excellence, ranging from Distinguished Service to Outstanding Educator; from Doctoral Dissertation to Theory and Practice. These awards serve many purposes within the computing community: they recognize and reward outstanding accomplishment; they attract media attention to the profession and its practitioners; they promote support from industry, academia, and society; and they spotlight role models for members and future computer scientists.

A recent addition to ACM’s award roster is the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award, recognizing a personal contribution by a young scientist or system developer to a contemporary innovation that, through its depth, fundamental impact, and broad implications, exemplifies the greatest achievements in the discipline. The award carries a prize of $150,000, endowed by the Infosys Foundation. Indeed, many other ACM Awards carry cash prizes, ranging up to $35,000 each for the Grace Murray Hopper Award funded by Google, and the Software System Award funded by IBM. For more information about ACM’s awards, visit for a complete list, including details regarding qualifications, associated prizes, previous winners, nomination procedures and deadlines, and the chairs and members of the selection committees.

Award recipients are honored each year at ACM’s Annual Awards Banquet,a long recognized as the premier event for ACM members and leadership to celebrate achievements by the worldwide IT community.

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The Award Process

The credibility of ACM awards depends on several conditions. Nominee selections must be clearly based on merit. Moreover, the overall composition of the selection committees must reflect the diversity of ACM’s membership. There must be a careful balance between transparency and privacy. For example, while the names of the committee members are made public, the names of nominees, nominators, and endorsers are kept strictly confidential.

The ACM Awards Committee, which reports directly to ACM Council, is responsible for overseeing the process. The committee consists of six ex officio members (committee co-chairs, ACM’s President, CEO, and COO, and a SIG Board representative) plus the chair of each selection committee. The co-chairs are appointed by the ACM President.

The recipient of each award—including the three advanced membership grades (Fellow, Distinguished Member, and Senior Member)—is selected by a separate committee. In addition, Special Interest Group (SIG) award committees are selected by the SIGs themselves, under procedures approved by the Awards Committee.

Most selection committees have three to five members who serve for three to five years, some of whom chair the committee toward the end of their term. Committees with especially heavy workloads (for example, Fellows and Doctoral Dissertations) have more members. Committee members are selected by the ACM President based on nominations from the co-chairs as well as suggestions from committee chairs, SIG officers, and others.

Each selection committee sets its own rules of operation, including policies for carrying nominations over from year to year. Committees operate by email and conference calls. Moreover, committees representing the Turing, ACM-Infosys Foundation, and Fellows awards, hold annual day-long, in-person meetings.

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A Work in Progress

ACM’s awards, policies, and practices have been growing and evolving for over 40 years.

The Awards Committee meets annually to discuss new awards and operational issues; this event is often held in conjunction with the Awards Banquet. (For more information, view the committee’s annual report

Staff at ACM HQ keeps the process operating smoothly, handling the necessary email correspondence; conference calls; scheduling; reports; Web site updates; and budgeting required for supporting the entire process.

While one should naturally aspire to recognition by an ACM award or elevation to an advanced member grade, there is another important role for consideration: You can nominate or endorse someone whose work you feel is worthy of acknowledgment. The selection process can only be as good as the nominations received. There is considerable variation in the number of nominations submitted for the different awards, but every selection committee would rather have too many good nominations than too few.

We welcome inquiries and suggestions for improving the awards process. Please contact us via Rosemary McGuinness, the ACM Awards Committee Liaison,

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