The BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Information and Communication Technologies category goes, in this fifteenth edition, to Alberto Sangiovanni Vincentelli for radically transforming the design of the chips that power today’s electronic devices, giving rise to the modern silicon design industry. By providing software tools to ease the creation of complex chips, he made possible a worldwide explosion of semiconductor design spanning research, industry and academia.
The novel methods Sangiovanni Vincentelli invented to dramatically speed up simulators of circuit behavior allowed designers to model and test increasingly complex ideas before building expensive chips. Second, he formulated ideas of logic synthesis, enabling designers to create silicon systems through the expression of programming language commands. Third, he developed algorithms for geometrically placing and connecting these logic blocks on a chip for optimal performance or lowest power.
The subsequent creation of an entire industry of silicon computer-aided design bears witness to the durability and importance of these ideas. Cadence and Synopsys, two technology giants co-founded by Sangiovanni Vincentelli to integrate electronic design automation (EDA) ideas into powerful software platforms, collectively drive the entire silicon industry: their design tools are used in every single computer chip built today.
A prolific inventor, outstanding educator, and successful entrepreneur, Sangiovanni Vincentelli created innovations, algorithms, and methodologies that defined an entire industry and made possible the vast tapestry of today’s electronic systems.