The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) today announced John L. Hennessy, former Stanford University President and Chairman of the Board of Alphabet; and David A. Patterson, retired Professor at University of California, Berkeley, as winners of the 2017 Turing Award for their groundbreaking approach to computer architecture design and evaluation.
The Turing Award is the Nobel Prize of computer science, named after British mathematician Alan M. Turing, who laid the mathematical foundations for and defined the limits of modern computing. The award is sponsored by Google and carries a prize of US$1 million.
Hennessy and Patterson proposed a systematic, quantified approach to building faster and more energy-efficient Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) microprocessors, which has been widely adopted by academia and industries. Today, RISC processors account for 99 percent of the more than 16 billion microprocessors produced each year and are used in smartphones, tablets and other embedded devices.
Hennessy and Patterson are also the co-authors of Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, an influential 1990 textbook that has contributed to improved microprocessor design across the computer architecture community.
In the textbook the pair encourage architects to tailor their system designs to accommodate different memory and computing demands. The textbook also prompted considerations of energy consumption, heat dissipation, and off-chip communications, widening computer architecture’s traditional focus from computational power alone.
“Hennessy and Patterson’s contributions to energy-efficient RISC-based processors have helped make possible the mobile and IoT revolutions. At the same time, their seminal textbook has advanced the pace of innovation across the industry over the past 25 years by influencing generations of engineers and computer designers,” said ACM President Vicki L. Hanson.
Hennessy and Patterson have received numerous honours, including the ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award and the IEEE John von Neumann Medal. They are fellows of the ACM and IEEE and members of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.
Journalist: Tony Peng| Editor: Michael Sarazen
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