University of Manchester mathematician honoured with ‘Nobel Prize of Computing’

The ACM Turing Award, which is often referred to as “The Nobel Prize of Computer Science,” and comes with a $1 million cash prize, funded by Google has been awarded to Professor Jack Dongarra for “pioneering contributions to numerical algorithms and libraries that enabled high performance computational software to keep pace with exponential hardware improvements for over four decades.”

Professor Dongarra is currently a Turing Fellow at The University of Manchester and collaborations with Manchester colleagues include work on batched computations, mixed precision arithmetic algorithms, and the PLASMA software.

As a leading ambassador of high-performance computing, Dongarra led the field in persuading hardware vendors to optimize these methods, and software developers to target his open-source libraries in their work. Ultimately, these efforts resulted in linear algebra-based software libraries achieving nearly universal adoption for high performance scientific and engineering computation on machines ranging from laptops to the world’s fastest supercomputers. These libraries were essential in the growth of the field—allowing progressively more powerful computers to solve computationally challenging problems.

“Today’s fastest supercomputers draw headlines in the media and excite public interest by performing mind-boggling feats of a quadrillion calculations in a second,” explains ACM President Gabriele Kotsis. “But beyond the understandable interest in new records being broken, high performance computing has been a major instrument of scientific discovery. HPC innovations have also spilled over into many different areas of computing and moved our entire field forward.

“Jack Dongarra played a central part in directing the successful trajectory of this field. His trailblazing work stretches back to 1979, and he remains one of the foremost and actively engaged leaders in the HPC community. His career certainly exemplifies the Turing Award’s recognition of ‘major contributions of lasting importance.’”

Professor Andrew Hazel, Head of Department, Mathematics at The University of Manchester said: “Jack Dongarra’s pioneering work has made it possible for researchers around the world to access high-performance computing. The Department of Mathematics is delighted that his fundamental contributions have been recognised by the ACM Turing Award.”

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