Computer theorist wins $1 million Turing Prize – Tech News (Trending Perfect)

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Computers seem methodical, deliberate, and completely predictable. But they can also act in completely random ways. As researchers build increasingly powerful machines, one key question is: What role will randomness play?

Wednesday, Association for software machinesthe world's largest community of computer professionals, announced that this year's Turing Award will go to Avi Wigderson, an Israeli-born mathematician and theoretical computer scientist who specializes in randomness.

The Turing Award, often called the Nobel Prize for Computing, is worth $1 million. The award is named after Alan Turing, the British mathematician who helped lay the foundations of modern computing in the mid-20th century.

Other recent winners include Ed Catmull and Pat Hanrahan, who helped create the computer-generated imagery, or CGI, that drives modern films and television, and artificial intelligence researchers Geoffrey Hinton, Yann LeCun, and Yoshua Bengio, who shepherded the technologies that gave rise to artificial intelligence. Chatbots like ChatGPT.

Although computers typically behave in deterministic ways — meaning they follow a predictable pattern set by their creators — scientists have also shown that random behavior can help solve some problems. In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Wigderson said randomness has played a role in smartphone apps, cloud computing systems, microprocessors and more.

“It's everywhere,” he said.

Randomness is essential to encryption, as unique digital keys are used to secure data and applications. Algorithms that incorporate random behavior can also help analyze complex situations, such as activity in the stock market, a storm moving across the country, or the spread of disease.

Dr. Wigderson, a professor of mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, was among a group of academics who published a series of papers that explored the role of randomness in solving very difficult problems, such as predicting the weather or finding a cure. For cancer.

The ultimate lesson from this work is that computers can solve many complex problems that humans will never fully understand, but some things will remain mysterious, even to machines, said Madhu Sudan, a theoretical computer scientist at Harvard University.

“This shows that there are many things we can solve using computers,” Dr. Sudan said. “It also shows that this progress will not be limitless.”

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