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Jack Dongarra Receives the 2021 ACM A.M. Turing Award

By Jillian Kunze

SIAM Fellow Jack Dongarra received the 2021 Association for Computing Machinery A.M. Turing Award. Photo courtesy of Tara Kneiser.
SIAM Fellow Jack Dongarra received the prestigious 2021 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) A.M. Turing Award earlier this year. The award is named for Alan Turing—whose work heavily shaped the mathematical foundations of computer science—and honors individuals who have made lasting contributions to the field of computing. It carries a $1 million prize for the winner, with financial support from Google, Inc. The 2021 prize announcement states that Dongarra was honored “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.”

Dongarra has a long history of extensive research on parallel computing, numerical algorithms in linear algebra, advanced computer architectures, and programming. He is a University Distinguished Professor of Computer Science in the University of Tennessee’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, a Distinguished Research Staff Member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and a Turing Fellow in the University of Manchester’s Department of Mathematics.

“The ACM A.M. Turing Award is a tremendous and humbling recognition, and I am honored to have been chosen,” Dongarra said. “I know about the past Turing Award recipients. I have learned from their books; read their papers; used their programming languages, theorems, techniques, standards, and algorithms; and even written papers with a couple of them. To be in that class of people is overwhelming.”

Dongarra is a longtime member of SIAM and has been actively involved with the SIAM community for multiple decades. He served on the SIAM Council for six years and has presented many times at SIAM conferences. He was also the founding chair of the SIAM Activity Group on Supercomputing (SIAG/SC) and subsequently became the first recipient of the SIAG/SC Career Prize in 2010. In addition, he received the 2019 SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering and has written a number of successful SIAM books, including several software user guides and Numerical Linear Algebra for High-Performance Computers

Reflecting on the Turing Award, Dongarra expressed gratitude for the encouragement of friends and colleagues throughout his career. “An award like this couldn’t have happened without the support and contributions of many people over time,” he said. “I have to credit the generations of colleagues, students, and staff who have helped and influenced me over the years to obtain this recognition. It comes about by having a great group of people and mentors who push you in the right direction.”

Moving forward, Dongarra seeks to honor the legacy of past Turing Award winners. “I hope I can live up to all the greatness that the Turing Award has recognized and become a role model, as many of the recipients have been, for the next generation of computer scientists,” he said.

  Jillian Kunze is the associate editor of SIAM News