Saturday, August 19, 2006

Colin Stirling in the Gödel Award Committee

I have heard from Mogens Nielsen that Colin Stirling has agreed to serve as one of the EATCS representatives in the Gödel award committee. This is great news for the concurrency theory community, and we should all be proud of Colin's nomination. (Colin is taking the place of P.L. Curien, whose term on the award committee ended this year, when he chaired the award committee.)

The Gödel Prize for outstanding papers in the area of theoretical computer science is sponsored jointly by the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS) and the Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computing Theory of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM SIGACT). This award is presented annually, with the presentation taking place alternately at the International Colloquium on Automata, Languages, and Programming (ICALP) and ACM Symposium on the Theory of Computing (STOC).

As I have already written in earlier posts devoted to this prize, a look at the list of winners clearly indicates a bias towards SIGACT-friendly research. During his presentation at ICALP 2006, Curien explained that this is a somewhat natural outcome of the fact that the prize is awarded by a committee formed by three SIGACT representatives and three EATCS members. Now, unlike SIGACT, the EATCS is an organization representing the whole of TCS, and its representatives in the Gödel award committee cover the areas of logic and semantics, automata and formal languages and algorithms and complexity theory. When it comes down to voting, papers in algorithms and complexity are more likely to get four votes than those in, say, logic and semantics.

Is this a desirable state of affairs? I am not so sure myself, but I believe that the EATCS should continue being involved in the Gödel prize. Let me wish Colin good luck with his work in the committee. I hope that we'll make his job easier by nominating excellent papers in logic and semantics for the award. After all, isn't it a bit weird that so few Gödel prizes are being given for work done in logic?

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