ACM 2015 Technical Awards
Tuesday, 03 May 2016

The ACM has announced the latest recipients of its four major technical awards, chosen for their contributions in the fields of systems software, cryptography, artificial intelligence, and network coding systems. 


The Association for Computer Machinery is the world's foremost professional membership organization for computing. Among its annual awards the Turing Award is the best known, and with a prize of $1 million the most lucrative, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

In the case of the technical awards recipients are selected by their peers for making significant contributions that enable the computing field to solve real-world challenges. 

The ACM System Software Award carries a prize of $35,000, with financial support from IBM and is:

awarded to an institution or individual(s) recognized for developing a software system that has had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts, in commercial acceptance, or both. 

In 2014 the GCC (GNU Compiler Collection) won the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software award and the 2015 Software System Reward recognizes Richard Stallman, the well-known head of the Free Software Foundation, for his role in its development.


The citation reads: 

  • For the development and leadership of GCC (the GNU Compiler Collection), which has enabled extensive software and hardware innovation, and has been a lynchpin of the free software movement.

The announcement notes that Stallman has previously (1990) been recognized with the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award. This is also worth $35,000, funded by Microsoft, and recognizes a single recent major technical or service contribution made by an individual aged 35 or younger.


The 2015 award goes to Brent Waters, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin:

  • For the introduction and development of the concepts of attribute-based encryption and functional encryption

Waters’ a new design enables an administrator to create a policy-specific decryption key that will enable decryption of only the underlying files that satisfy the policy. His functional encryption allows an administrator to create private keys that allow a decryptor to learn only a particular function of the encrypted data, thus limiting their view to what they need to know about the data. 


Eric Horvitz, a technical fellow at Microsoft Research is the 2015 recipient of the ACM - AAAI Allen Newell Award, an award accompanied by a prize of $10,000 made to an individual:

for career contributions that have breadth within computer science, or that bridge computer science and other disciplines. 

The citation reads:

  • For contributions to artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction spanning the computing and decision sciences through developing principles and models of sensing, reflection, and rational action.

Horvitz, who was made an ACM Fellow in 2014 is is best known for his pioneering research in developing principles and models of computational intelligence and action. In related work on human-computer collaboration, he has developed methods that blend human and machine intelligence in problem solving, using models of human goals, competencies, and cognition. He is currently working on the 100-year effort to study on the effects of artificial intelligence on every aspect of how people work, live, and play, see The Effects Of AI - Stanford 100 Year Study  

The ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award honors:

specific theoretical accomplishments that have had a significant and demonstrable effect on the practice of computing.

Its $10,000 prize partly is endowed by contributions from the Kanellakis family. 


The 2015 citation, for Michael George Luby, reads: 

  • For ground-breaking contributions to erasure correcting codes, which are essential for improving the quality of video transmission over the Internet. 

Luby, who also became an ACM Felllow in 2015, is Qualcomm Technologies Vice President of Technology.  His theoretical contributions to coding theory include Tornado Codes, Fountain Codes Codes and LT Codes, which have led to major advances in the reliable transmission and recoverability of data across mobile, broadcast and satellite channels. 

These four recipients will be formally honored at the ACM Awards Banquet on June 11 in San Francisco. At the same time the 2015 Turing Award will be presented to cryptography pioneers Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman, as announced in early March.

The event will also see the presentation of  the 2015 ACM-Infosys Foundation Award in the Computing Sciences to Stefan Savage.


Savage, Professor in the Systems and Networking Group at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering receives this award:

  • For innovative research in network security, privacy, and reliability that has taught us to view attacks and attackers as elements of an integrated technological, societal, and economic system.




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