Levesque and Vardi Receive Newell Award
Written by Sue Gee   
Friday, 04 June 2021

Hector Levesque of University of Toronto and Moshe Vardi of Rice University have been named as the 2020 recipients of the ACM-AAAI Allen Newell Award. They share the $10,000 prize, co-funded by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

The ACM - AAAI Allen Newell Award is named in honor of  Allen Newell one of the founding pioneers of the field of Artificial Intelligence and from 1979-80 the inaugural President of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the former name of the AAAI. It has been presented annually since 1994 to one or more individuals selected for career contributions that have breadth within computer science, or that bridge computer science and other disciplines. 

Hector Levesque is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto. Among other books, he is the author of Common Sense, the Turing Test, and the Quest for Real AI in which he outlines his proposals for using Winograd Schemas to judge whether a computer program has truly modeled human level intelligence, something we reported back in 2014 and again in 2016.

h levesque

The citation in respect of the ACM-AAAI Allen Newell Award 2020 for Hector Levesque states:

For fundamental contributions to knowledge representation and reasoning, and their broader influence within theoretical computer science, databases, robotics, and the study of Boolean satisfiability.

The award recognizes his contributions logic-inspired Artificial Intelligence and their impact across multiple sub-disciplines within computer science noting that with collaborators he has made fundamental contributions to cognitive robotics, multi-agent systems, theoretical computer science and database systems, as well as in philosophy and cognitive psychology, which have inspired applications such as the semantic web and automated verification. 

Moshe Vardi is the Karen Ostrum George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering at Rice Universitry where he teaches logic and research ethics. He is also a faculty scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy and the leader of Rice’s initiative on Technology, Culture and Society, His research interests span automated reasoning, database theory, computational-complexity theory, multi-agent systems, and computer-aided design and verification. He has authored/co-authored more than 600 articles and two books and is senior editor of Communications of the ACM, after having served for a decade as editor-in-chief.

m y vardi


The ACM-AAAI Allen Newell Award citation for Moshe Vardi reads:

For contributions to the development of logic as a unifying foundational framework and a tool for modeling computational systems

In database theory, Vardi developed a theory of general data dependencies, finding axiomatizations and resolving their decision problem; introduced two basic notions of measuring the complexity of algorithms for evaluating queries, data-complexity, and query-complexity, which soon became standard in the field; created a logical theory of data updates; and characterized the expressive power of query languages and related them to complexity classes. In software and hardware verification, Vardi introduced an automata-theoretic approach to the verification of reactive systems that revolutionized the field, using automata on infinite strings and trees to represent both the system being analyzed and undesirable computations of the system  and in knowledge theory, he developed rigorous foundations for reasoning about the knowledge of multiagent and distributed systems, a problem of central importance in many disciplines. 

Vardi has also been named as the 2021 winner of the Knuth Prize for:

“high-impact, seminal contributions to the foundations of computer science.” 


More Information

2020 ACM - AAAI Allen Newell Award

Hector J. Levesque ACM page

Moshe Y Vardi ACM page


Related Articles

ACM 2015 Technical Awards

A Better Turing Test - Winograd Schemas

No Winners In First Winograd Schema Contest

Cynthia Dwork Awarded 2020 Knuth Prize

Knuth Prize 2019 Awarded For Contributions To Complexity Theory 

Knuth Prize 2018 Awarded For Contributions To Computational Complexity 


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Last Updated ( Friday, 04 June 2021 )