Stephen Cook has won the prestigious BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the Information and Communication Technologies category for his pioneering and influential work on computational complexity.
Cook, University Professor Emeritus, said he is “astonished” and “delighted” by the award. In his long career, he has been fascinated to see how “computer science has advanced in leaps and bounds.”
- Cook expanded on Turing’s concept of computability — what a computer can and cannot solve — to include efficiency, so we can ascertain which problems are worth trying to solve and which are not.
- He defined a class of “hardest problems”, termed NP-complete, such that solving one efficiently would mean all other NP problems were similarly solvable. “If you can show that a problem is NP-complete, then very likely you should give up trying to solve it,” Cook said.
- Cook is author of one of the Millennium Problems; one, concretely, whose solution touches on the encryption and security systems underpinning the digital economy.
“Steve’s contributions to research and teaching are exemplary, to say the least,” said Professor Ravin Balakrishnan, chair of the Department of Computer Science. “His work has had global impact and the fundamental results of his decades of research continue to be at the absolute forefront of theoretical computer science.”
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A&S News staff with files from BBVA
Video courtesy of BBVA