Dieter van Melkebeek presented with 2020 ACM-SIGACT Distinguished Service Award

Dieter van Melkebeek; Photographer: Bob Smith

Computer Sciences Professor Dieter van Melkebeek will be presented with the prestigious 2020 ACM-SIGACT Distinguished Service Award for his leadership in creating the Computational Complexity Foundation (CCF) and transitioning the annual Computational Complexity Conference to be run under the auspices of the CCF. This new model benefits the research community in multiple ways, including open-access publication of the conference proceedings and reduced conference costs, while maintaining the prestige of this core theory conference. The award will be presented in late June at the 2020 ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing (STOC).

CCF has demonstrated financial stability and exemplary transparency. It enjoys broad support within the community and serves as a model that may be emulated in CS Theory and beyond. CCF has the potential to take up other issues of interest to the theory community; as an example, it has already taken over the guardianship of the popular Electronic Colloquium on Computational Complexity (ECCC) preprint service.

The well-reasoned and smoothly executed transition realized a long-voiced desire of the community to become independent. In the face of the formidable legal, financial, and logistical challenges involved in the transition, it took an extraordinary leader to turn this desire into reality. Van Melkebeek’s vision, determination, thoughtfulness, careful planning, attention to detail, and singular dedication made this transition an unqualified success.

Van Melkebeek is the Associate Chair of the Department of Computer Sciences and has been a faculty member at UW-Madison for 19 years. He teaches algorithms and computational complexity theory. As coach of the UW-Madison teams participating in the International Collegiate Programming Contest, he has brought the team to the world finals for 19 years straight.

*Much of this was text taken from ACM’s award announcement.