The 2010 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Information and Communication Technologies has been granted to Donald E. Knuth.
“Knuth made computing a science by introducing formal mathematical techniques for the rigorous analysis of algorithms. He also brought elegance and artistry into computer programming by advocating for code that is simple, compact, and intuitively understandable. Knuth’s book The Art of Computer Programming merges these two facets of computing; it is considered the seminal work on computer science in the broadest sense, encompassing the algorithms and methods which lie at the heart of most computer systems, and doing so with uncommon clarity and depth. His impact on the theory and practice of computer science is beyond parallel.
Knuth’s work formalized algorithmic analysis, providing the tools to determine the resources – the memory and computing time – required to execute algorithms. He also created a simple categorization of computational complexity that provided key insights into the development of large-scale programs. Knuth laid the foundation for modern compilers, which translate the high-level language of programmers into the binary language of computers. His fundamental contribution to pattern matching significantly improved the efficiency of finding a particular sequence among billions of characters. Finally, his open-source digital typesetting languages TeX and METAFONT imported the aesthetics of typesetting into a program which empowered authors to design beautiful documents.
Algorithms are at the heart of today’s digital world, underlying everything we do with a computer. Knuth, the ‘father’ of the analysis of algorithms, laid the foundation for systematic software design. Knuth’s work is the scaffolding upon which we build modern computer programs.”