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Eureka: CMU Prof Solves Classic Computing Conundrum

Computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and the Russian Academy of Science will share an award from the Association for Computing Machinery for work on a key unresolved question in theoretical computer science.

Steven Rudich, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon, and Alexander A. Razborov, a mathematician at the Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow, will receive the $5,000 prize for their work on the "P vs. NP problem." ACM described the problem as "a classic question concerning computational complexity" that underlies security of ATM cards, computer passwords, and electronic commerce.

"It is literally a million-dollar question," according to ACM, one of seven "Millennium Problems" that the Clay Mathematics Institute has offered $1 million for solving.

"Of all of the prizes I could win, I would choose this one," Rudich said. "Gödel has been my luminary hero since I was 12."

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About the Author

Paul McCloskey is contributing editor of Syllabus.

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