Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

ACM Announces Distinguished Service, Doctoral Dissertation Awardees

May 2nd, 2012 / in awards / by Erwin Gianchandani

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) continues to roll out its annual awards, today naming William Wulf the recipient of its 2011 Distinguished Service Award and Seth Cooper its 2011 Doctoral Dissertation Award. Wulf is being recognized for his service as both the Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the President of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). Cooper is receiving his honor for his groundbreaking work exploring the use of video games for solving difficult scientific problems.

According to the ACM press release:

William Wulf, University of VirginiaThe Distinguished Service Award to William A. Wulf for distinguished service as a leader of the National Science Foundation’s Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE) Directorate, and as president of the National Academy of Engineering  (NAE). The only computer scientist to serve in both of these leading organizations, Wulf helped develop the High Performance Computing and Communication Initiative to spur the construction of a national information infrastructure. At NSF, he oversaw the merger and conversion of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network) from the US Defense Department to the National Research and Education Network (NREN), a critical step that evolved into the Internet. At NAE, he advocated for engineering education and technical literacy, overseeing the publication of two influential reports that urged educators to prepare for the future of engineering in a dynamic technology-driven global environment. He promoted NAE’s technology literacy movement to illuminate the potential for teaching engineering concepts at the K-12 level. He also created the Center on Engineering, Ethics and Society (CEES) at NAE to raise the importance of ethics in the profound impact of engineering on our society. Wulf is the AT&T professor of Computer Science at the University of Virginia. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, and AAAS.


Seth Cooper, University of WashingtonThe Doctoral Dissertation Award to Seth Cooper for his dissertation “A Framework for Scientific Discovery through Video Games.” Cooper, a computer scientist at the University of Washington, explores how the video game environment can be used for solving difficult scientific problems. He is the co-creator and lead designer and developer of Foldit, a crowdsourcing, scientific discovery game, which demonstrated the potential for solving intractable scientific problems by using games as an architecture. Employing the collective efforts of tens of thousands of gamers, Cooper’s team helped solve the structure of a key protein in the fight against HIV, putting the combined power of humans and computers toward solving problems that neither could solve alone. Cooper, nominated by the University of Washington, is creative director at the University’s Center for Game Science.

In addition to Cooper, ACM named Aleksander Madry and David Steurer as Honorable Mention winners of the dissertation award. Madry has developed a set of novel algorithmic tools that allowed him to advance the state of the art on several fundamental graph problems. Steurer “uses a novel algorithm for expansion of graphs across different scales that sheds light on an optimization problem called Unique Games, and applications beyond this hard-to-approximate problem.” Cooper will receive a $20,000 prize; Madry and Steurer will each get $10,000.

All the awardees will be honored at ACM’s annual awards banquet in San Francisco in mid-June.

To learn more — and to see other awards announced by ACM today — check out the official press release.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

ACM Announces Distinguished Service, Doctoral Dissertation Awardees