The highly coveted Turing Award has gone to two computer chip inventors who reportedly paved the way for today’s smartphone industry.

On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) named University of California Berkely professor emeritus, David Patterson, and Stanford University’s former president, John Hennessy, as recipients of the highly coveted 2017 ACM Turing Award.

According to reports, the two were chosen for their work on their “systematic, quantitative approach to the design and evaluation of computer architectures with an enduring impact on the microprocessor industry.”

Patterson and Hennessy’s contribution to the world of computing has allegedly paved the way for the smartphone industry today. Currently, their RISC processor design approach is widely used in manufacturing microprocessors.

RISC processors are high-speed computer microprocessors with lower-power and a reduced instruction set. It is said that yearly, 99 percent of over 16 billion microprocessors being manufactured are RISC processors as they are found in nearly every electronic devices like smartphones, tablets, and others that compose the Internet of Things.

Turing Award recipients David Patterson (left) and John Hennessy (right)
Turing Award recipients David Patterson (left) and John Hennessy (right)

The Turing Award

The Turing Award is considered the Nobel Prize of computing. It was named after the British mathematician and one of the pioneers of computer science, Alan M. Turing. Recipients of this prestigious award are chosen by ACM, the computing organization that represents the industry’s professionals across the world.

This year’s Turing Award comes with a $1 million USD cash prize sponsored by Google that will be shared by Patterson and Hennessy.

The duo’s design principles have been laid out in their famous book Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach that’s now already in its sixth edition.

“I am thrilled to share this high honor with my longtime friend and collaborator John Hennessy,” Patterson was quoted as saying.

“UC Berkeley is among the leading universities with Turing laureates among its faculty and alumni, so my share of this award is really recognition of my good fortune of having built my career here. It has been a privilege to collaborate for four decades with the wonderful students and faculty of UC Berkeley just as the university celebrates its 150th birthday.”

Right now, both Patterson and Hennessy are working in Google. Patterson is one of the most distinguished engineers of the company while Hennessy serves as chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

Other renowned recipients of the Turing Award are World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, internet technology inventors Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn, creators of Unix Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie, and pioneers of cryptography Whitfield Diffie, Len Adleman, Martin Hellman, Ron Rivest, and Adi Shamir.

If you were to nominate one candidate for the Turing Award, who would it be and why?

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