By Sarah Yang, Media Relations | May 1, 2012
A groundbreaking $60 million award to UC Berkeley from the Simons Foundation will establish the campus as the worldwide center for theoretical computer science. The gift funds the creation of a new institute where top computer theorists and researchers from around the globe will converge to explore the mathematical foundations of computer science and extend them to tackle challenges in fields as diverse as mathematics, health care, climate modeling, astrophysics, genetics, economics and business.
Over the past half century, the theory of computing has developed into a powerful and specialized mode of scientific thinking that can bring new insights into key problems in domains beyond conventional computation that require the analysis of vast amounts of data using new algorithms and mathematical approaches. To date, UC Berkeley researchers in the field have been responsible for pivotal discoveries that underlie the multi-billion dollar Internet search and commerce industries, quantum computing and the mining of massive data sets.
The new Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley will infuse new life into the field by offering researchers a computational lens with which to explore new challenges relevant to everyday life, including how to fight diseases, create more accurate climate change models, and make people’s social and commercial interactions on the Internet more secure and efficient, said Richard Karp, the institute’s founding director, who has received the Turing Award, the Kyoto Prize and the National Medal of Science for his groundbreaking contributions to theoretical computation.