NSF Honors Aaronson with Alan T. Waterman Award
March 9, 2012
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named Associate Professor Scott Aaronson, a principal investigator at CSAIL, as one of two recipients of this year’s Alan T. Waterman Award. Associate Professor Robert Wood of Harvard University was also honored with the award.
The annual award recognizes an outstanding researcher under the age of 35 in any field of science or engineering NSF supports.
In addition to a medal, each of this year's awardees will receive a $1 million grant--twice the amount of last year's award--over a five year period for further advanced study in his field.
"Robert and Scott embody the best in young, bold and talented researchers," said NSF Director Subra Suresh, noting that computing is central to both of their research pursuits. "I have no doubt that these two researchers will continue to have an extraordinary impact on our nation and the world in the years to come."
Scott Aaronson is the TIBCO Career Development Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and is affiliated with CSAIL, the largest Interdepartmental lab at MIT. Aaronson, a theoretical computational scientist, pursues research interests that focus on the limitations of quantum computers and computational complexity theory more generally.
His research addresses a variety of topics, including the information content of quantum states, the physical resources needed for quantum computers to surpass classical computers, and the barriers to solving computer science's vexing P versus NP question, that is whether every problem whose solution can be quickly verified by a computer can also be quickly solved by a computer.
Aaronson is a founder of the Complexity Zoo wiki which catalogs over 500 computational complexity classes and the author of the much-read blog "Shtetl-Optimized" and the essay Who Can Name The Bigger Number?. This recipient of a G.E.D. from New York State went on to study at Cornell and the University of California, Berkeley, and win best paper awards and honors, including both the DARPA Young Faculty Award and PECASE Award in 2009.
"By illuminating the fundamental limits on what can be computed in the physical world, and the potential implications of those limits, Scott Aaronson has staked out important new ground in computational theory," said MIT President Susan Hockfield. "I am delighted that the National Science Foundation has recognized his dual abilities, both to articulate key research questions and to offer new methods and ideas for addressing them, with the Alan T. Waterman Award."
"I'm surprised, excited and grateful to receive this award," said Aaronson. "It will obviously be an enormous help to me in supporting my students and postdocs, so we can continue our work on quantum computing and the fundamental limits of computation."
The Waterman Award will be presented to Wood and Aaronson at a dinner ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on May 3. Both awardees also will deliver lectures at NSF.
For more on Aaronson's work, visit: http://www.csail.mit.edu/user/1324.