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Science IT The 2000 Beanies

Why There's No Nobel Prize In Computing 229

alphadogg writes "When Nobel Prizes are dished out each fall, the most accomplished professionals in computing, telecom and IT have usually been left out in the cold. That's because there is no Nobel Prize for these fields, and it's unlikely there will be one any time soon. According to the Nobel Foundation: 'The Nobel Prizes, as designated in the Will of Alfred Nobel, are in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Only once has a prize been added — a Memorial Prize — The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, donated by Sweden's central bank to celebrate its tercentenary in 1968. The Nobel Foundation's Board of Directors later decided to keep the original five prizes intact and not to permit new additions.' So, if IBM, Google, Apple or some other deep-pocketed tech company wanted to make a big donation along the lines of what Sweden's central bank did in 1968, maybe it could sway the Nobel Foundation to add a prize. But it most likely wouldn't be officially called a Nobel Prize."
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Why There's No Nobel Prize In Computing

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:23PM (#36351562)

    They'd just end up giving it to somebody like Zuckerberg rather than somebody like Knuth.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:34PM (#36351772)
    Exactly what I came here to say. If it means that some self aggrandizing marketing troll stands a chance of being the nobel prize winner for computing, I'd as soon not have a computing category.
  • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 ) on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:46PM (#36351942)

    Just as there is the fields medal in mathematics (and the new, perhaps more appropriate Abel prize), there is the ACM A.M. Turing award for computing.

    The problem with making more nobel prizes is where do you draw the line? Why isn't there one for astronomy and astrophysics, separate from the one for physics (these guys really do complain about being lumped together alot), or organic, and inorganic chemistry. How about splitting the nobel prize in medicine into a 'procedures' and a 'biochemistry' category.

    Why not a Nobel prize in business, as separate from a Nobel prize in economics? Or different sub branches of economics.

    Hell, there are, at just the school I am at, (exactly) 50 different PhD programmes offered. Why doesn't each of those get a nobel prize? Women's studies and feminist research, history, music etc. There are people who do great work in all of those 50 programmes, well, ok, maybe not journalism or women's studies, but the other 48 anyway,

    Nobel prizes are an odd tool. They are largely awarded, in the sciences at least, well after the work is done, and in many cases awarded clearly in a sequence (so that they can award both the discoverer of something really cool *and* all the people who made that discovery possible). Computing doesn't quite seem to be ready for that yet. All of the big work, especially on the hardware side, is done by corporations, with huge arrays of people involved, and as much as there are a lot of people who develop a lot of really neat and powerful novel algorithms they get Turing awards already... It would seem kinda silly to be rewarding Intel, or IBM or the like for their fundamental computer research. They do a lot of it, and they deserve industry recognition, (which they get), but I'm not sure it makes much sense to be handing them a nobel prize.

  • Re:Math (Score:4, Insightful)

    by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:48PM (#36351968) Journal
    The Fields Medal is not granted to anyone who has passed their 40th birthday. So a lot of great mathematicians who have done great work after this age, or whose work was not recognized until after they were 40 will not be / were not awarded. This is ridiculous. If you are going to recognize great work, age should not play a part. It is not right. It also means that the Fields Medal is not comparable to the Nobel Prize which does not discriminate based on age.
  • by WegianWarrior ( 649800 ) on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:48PM (#36351970) Journal

    The Nobel prizes were created by the Will of Alfred Nobel, who died quite a long time before modern computers were even a remote possibility. Obviously there was no Nobel prize for computers - nor economics, since economics were not considered a science back then (note that the so called Nobel Prize in economics isn't a Nobel Prize - it's a prize in memory of Alfred Nobel). Maybe there is a need for an internationally recognized prize for outstanding achievements in the field of computer science... but it won't be and can never be a "Nobel Prize".

    Complaining about the fact that Nobel didn't make a provision in his will to institute a prize for a field of science that didn't exists in his time makes even less sense than the creationist argument that evolution isn't a science since Darwin wasn't awarded a Nobel Prize (hint: Darwin died before Nobel).

  • by SnarfQuest ( 469614 ) on Monday June 06, 2011 @12:56PM (#36352092)

    No, it would go to someone like Al Gore or Obama. That would make as much sense as the awards they've already given them. Maybe they will give it to an actual programmer, if they can prove that they really hate America.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev