What We Know about Turing Award winners

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW YORK (AP) — This year's $1 million A.M. Turing Award was given Tuesday to a pair of cryptographers whose ideas helped create the foundation for the Internet:

WHAT IS IT: The award has been given each year since 1966 by the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest scientific computing society, in honor of Alan Mathison Turing, the British mathematician who cracked the Nazis' Enigma code and fostered the field of artificial intelligence. Funding from Google Inc. raised the amount of the prize to $1 million.

THE WINNERS: Whitfield Diffie, a former chief security officer of Sun Microsystems, and Martin Hellman, a professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Stanford University. Their invention of public-key cryptography and digital signatures in the 1970s put encryption to use outside government hands and created the foundation for the Internet.

WHY NOW: "In 1976, Diffie and Hellman imagined a future where people would regularly communicate through electronic networks and be vulnerable to having their communications stolen or altered. Now, after nearly 40 years, we see that their forecasts were remarkably prescient," ACM President Alexander L. Wolf said.