A new award that will honor mid-career computer scientists for outstanding innovations offers more than a pat on the back -- it also comes with a prize of $150,000.
Award sponsors the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Infosys Foundation will give the annual award to a computing professional around age 40, or a small group of computer scientists, who have created "something really important," said Stuart Feldman, ACM's president and vice president of engineering at Google. "It's intended to [recognize] something really big."
The award, announced Monday, was Infosys's way of celebrating its 25th anniversary, which happened in 2006. "That's a very admirable and remarkable thing," Feldman said. "Instead of deciding to put up an extra statue of somebody or throw a humongous party, they decided that they would endow an award to encourage and reward great computer science."
With the award, Infosys wanted to inspire students worldwide to consider careers in computer science, said S. Gopalakrishnan, the company's CEO. "Our goal is to identify breakthroughs that have broad implications well beyond the scope of the innovation itself and that reflect an underlying scientific or engineering methodology that is remarkable for its rigor or for its sheer audacity," he said in a statement.
The ACM-Infosys Foundation Award has the second largest monetary prize of ACM's awards. In fact, the Infosys donation was so large that ACM had to increase the prize for its prestigious A.M. Turing Award for lifetime achievements in computer science. ACM announced in July it would increase the Turing prize amount from $100,000 to $250,000 with Google joining Intel as a sponsor.
ACM plans to announce the first winner of the Infosys award in early 2008. ACM and Infosys have left the qualifications fairly broad -- any mid-career people in any core computing field who've created an outstanding innovation. Computer science will change in the coming years, and the sponsors didn't want to leave out new branches of the field, Feldman said.
Feldman expects to have a backlog of nominees the first few years. "There may be years when we don't give it, because there's nothing that quite comes to the standard," he said. "But for the first few years, we don't expect to have any problems."
ACM offers several other awards with prizes ranging from $5,000 to $35,000.