Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Turing Award winners Alfred Aho (left) and Jeffrey Ullman (right). Photos: Eileen Barosso (Aho) and Stanford University School of Engineering (Ullman)

Widely considered the Nobel Prize of computing, the Turing Award often goes to someone for a particular piece of work. This year, the Turing is going to two professors, Alfred Aho and Jeffrey Ullman, for literally writing the book on how computers are programmed.

Why it matters: Aho and Ullman have influenced the industry both directly and through all those they have influenced, including Google co-founder Sergey Brin, for whom Ullman served as Ph.D advisor.

  • Aho and Ullman both got their doctorates from Princeton and then worked together at Bell Labs from 1967 to 1969. In 1969, Ullman left for academia while Aho remained at Bell Labs for 30 years.
  • The pair published 9 books together, including the highly influential 1974 tome "The Design and Analysis of Computer Algorithms" and 1977's "Principles of Compiler Design."

The big picture: In a joint interview, Ullman and Aho both said they have been surprised how deeply computing has been enmeshed in human life in the years since they wrote their pioneering texts.

  • "I find it hard to believe how important to believe how important computer science has become, thinking 50 years ago when it was kind of marginal as a topic," Ullman said.
  • Aho notes that there are now roughly as many computer languages — around 7,000 — as there are languages spoken by humans.

Yes, but: Both honorees noted that not all of computing's influences have been good, pointing to issues including algorithmic bias as well as the polarizing impacts of social media.

Between the lines: Aho said he took much away from an encounter during his first week at Bell Labs, when a colleague told him that "You can have much more impact if you not only do good work but teach others how to use your good work."

Ullman and Aho have taught many in their years — Ullman at Stanford and Aho at Columbia.

  • As for his most famous student, Ullman said he didn't have to do much for Sergey Brin, beyond helping ensure that Brin and Larry Page had enough disk space for their early work on what became Google.
  • "My job as his adviser was really just keeping out of his way, letting him do what he wanted," Ullman said.

The bottom line: Both Ullman and Aho were surprised that their work would eventually garner computing's highest honor.

  • "I never thought of writing books as the thing that would win the award," Ullman said.
  • "I’m kind of glad," Aho said. "It recognizes the importance of programming languages and compliers."

Go deeper

White House nominates Rick Spinrad as NOAA leader

In this NOAA GOES-East satellite handout image, Hurricane Dorian, a Cat. 4 storm, moves slowly past Grand Bahama Island on September 2, 2019. (Photo by NOAA via Getty Images)

The White House on Thursday evening nominated Rick Spinrad, an oceanographer at Oregon State University, to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Why it matters: Filling the NOAA slot would complete the Biden administration's leadership on the climate and environment team. The agency, located within the Commerce Department, houses the National Weather Service and conducts much of the nation's climate science research.

2 hours ago - World

Israeli officials will object to restoration of Iran deal in D.C. visit

Photo: Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the delegation traveling to Washington, D.C. next week for strategic talks on Iran to stress their objection to a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal and to refuse to discuss its contents, Israeli officials say.

Why it matters: That position is similar to the one Israel took in the year before the 2015 nuclear deal was announced, which led to a rift between the Israeli government and the Obama administration. History could now repeat itself.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases aren't budging — even after vaccinations doubled— Health care workers feel stress, burnout more than a year into the pandemic — Handful of "breakthrough" COVID cases occurred in nursing homes, CDC says.
  2. Vaccines: Johnson & Johnson's vaccine production problems look even bigger — All U.S. adults now eligible for COVID-19 vaccine.
  3. Political: Watchdog says agency infighting increased health and safety risks at start of pandemic.
  4. World: EU regulator: Benefits of J&J vaccine outweigh risk of rare blood clots.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.