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Google Turns 'Nobel Prize' of Computer Science into $1 Million Award

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The Turing Award, considered by many to be the Nobel Prize of computing, now comes with a one-million dollar prize, thanks to Google. That amount is four times the cash award previously provided with the recognition.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) selects winners and awards the prize each year, since 1966.

Leslie Lamport is the latest person to win the award for his work on methods of organizing otherwise chaotic data in distributed computing systems. These networks are composed of autonomous computing devices which trade information between hubs.

"The Turing Award is now funded at the monetary level of the world's most prestigious cultural and scientific awards and prizes. With the generous support of Google, we can celebrate the mainstream role of computing in transforming the world and the way we communicate, conduct business, and access entertainment," Alexander Wolf, president of the ACM, said.

Nobel Prizes are accompanied by a cash award of eight million Swedish Krona, worth a little over a million dollars.

Alan Turing was a pioneer of the early age of computers. His visions of artificial intelligence, programmable computers, encryption, and mobile devices were vital to the creation of today's interconnected world.  

"Some people invent the foundations on which others can build, and others - some of them dropouts - are those that make these technologies massively available to people and society," Wolf told the press.

The next Turing Award, the first to come with the higher cash payout, will be given away in spring 2015. It will be awarded to the person deemed to have created the greatest advance in computing technology during 2014. This cash award for the Turing Prize was increased, in part, due to the ever-expanding role of personal communications in daily life.

The previous cash award of $250,000 had been underwritten by Google and computer manufacturing giant Intel, since 2007. The hardware developer recently decided to step away from offering the prize, leaving the internet and technology company left as the sole sponsor.

"Google is proud to support ACM's Turing Award. We think it's important to recognize when people make fundamental contributions in computer science, and we want to help ACM raise awareness of these innovators and the contributions they've made to the world," Stuart Feldman, vice president of engineering at Google, said.

Born in 1912, Turing's work was vital to the Allied war effort, particularly in England, during the Second World War. Following the war, he was prosecuted for homosexuality and committed suicide in 1954. He was granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen of England in 2013.

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