The First Ever Indian to Receive the Turing Award: Raj Reddy

Raj Reddy is a legendary name in the field of computer science. Here’s why.

Raj Reddy

Raj Reddy

Raj Reddy, is the first person of Asian origin to receive the Turing Award, often called the Nobel Prize in computer science. He’s still the only Indian to win the award. He is the professor of computer science and robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, Reddy, who comes from a farming family in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, is an artificial intelligence (AI) pioneer. He’s been researching AI since the 1960s, when few in the world knew much about it. Reddy says AI has transformed the world in the last 10 years in a way that previously seemed would take at least 50 years. 

Turing Award, in full A.M. Turing Award, annual award given by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a professional computing society founded in 1947, to one or more individuals “selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community.” The Turing Award is often referred to as the computer science equivalent of the Nobel Prize. The Turing Award is named for Alan Mathison Turing, an English pioneer in computers and artificial intelligence. The first recipient of the award, in 1966, was Alan J. Perlis, an American computer scientist who wrote the compiler for the ALGOL computer programming language. The first woman to win the prize was Frances E. Allen, in 2006, for her work in compiler optimization, which contributed to the development of parallel execution in multiprocessing.

Raj Reddy pioneered the construction of systems for recognizing continuous speech. He developed the first system, Hearsay I, capable of continuous speech recognition. In this system and subsequent systems like Hearsay II, Harpy, and Dragon, he and his students developed most of the ideas underlying modern commercial speech recognition technology. Some of these ideas—most notably the “blackboard model” for coordinating multiple knowledge sources—have been adopted across the spectrum of applied artificial intelligence. Together, the joint Turing Award recipients in 1994, Edward Feigenbaum and Raj Reddy, have been seminal leaders in defining the emerging field of applied artificial intelligence and demonstrating its technological significance. Raj Reddy is renowned for his work in computer speech recognition, robotics, human-computer interaction, innovations in higher education, and efforts to bring digital technology to people on the other side of the “digital divide.”

Reddy’s accomplishments have led to many awards and honors. In addition to being a co-recipient with Ed Feigenbaum of the ACM Turing Award in 1994, he is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the Legion d’Honneur, by French President Francois Mitterrand in 1984 for his work in developing countries; the Okawa Prize in 2004 for “pioneering researches of large scale artificial intelligence system, human-computer interaction… outstanding contributions to information and telecommunications policy”, the Honda Prize in 2005 for his “outstanding achievements in computer science and robotics,” the 2005 IJCAI Donald E. Walker Distinguished Service Award for “his outstanding service to the AI community,” and the Vannevar Bush Award in 2006 for his “pioneering research in robotics and intelligent systems, and his significant contributions in the formulation of national information and telecommunications policy.”


Must see news