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Bay Area Legend Wins "Nobel of Computing"

John Hennessy Talks With KCBS Radio About What's Next

KCBS Radio Morning News
March 22, 2018 - 9:25 am

(KCBS Radio) - Former Stanford University President John Hennessy has won a share of the latest Turing Award--an honor often referred to as "the Nobel Prize of computing". Cal Professor Emeritus David Patterson shares the Turing Award and its million dollar payout with Hennessy (see bottom of article for KCBS Radio interview with Patterson).

The award recognizes their work in the 1980's on what became known as the RISC architecture now used in the vast majority of the world's technology devices. 

In a KCBS Radio interview, Hennessy looked at current and future trends in computing. He said today, "the most interesting things are happening with small devices that are everywhere, and with cloud-based computing."

But Hennessy, who's now the executive chairman of the board at Google parent Alphabet Inc., sees the next big challenge as being in artifical intelligence and machine learning. "They're wonderful applications," he said, "but they consumer enormous numbers of cycles and so we've got to figure out ways to accelerate them efficiently."

Hennessy believes the eventual answer to the challenges facing AI and machine learning will be "building special-purpose processors to accelerate these kinds of applications."