Ronald Fagin Is Recipient of IEEE-CS W. Wallace McDowell Award

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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 26 March, 2012 – Ronald Fagin, best known for his pioneering work in database theory, finite model theory, and reasoning about knowledge, has been selected as the 2012 winner of the prestigious W. Wallace McDowell Award.

Fagin, who won a 2011 IEEE Technical Achievement Award “for pioneering contributions to the theory of rank and score aggregation,” received the McDowell Award this year for making “fundamental and lasting contributions to the theory of databases.”

One of computing’s most prestigious individual honors, the W. Wallace McDowell Award has a list of past winners that reads like a who’s who of industry giants. They include FORTRAN creator John W. Backus (1967); supercomputer pioneers Seymour Cray (1968), Gene Amdahl (1976), and Ken Kennedy (1995); the architect of IBM’s mainframe computer Frederick Brooks (1970); Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore (1978); Donald Knuth, the father of algorithm analysis (1980); microprocessor inventor Federico Faggin (1994); World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee (1996); and Lotus Notes creator and Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie (2000).

Manager of the Foundations of Computer Science group at IBM Almaden Research Center, and a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, Fagin has received an IBM Corporate Award, eight IBM Outstanding Innovation Awards, an IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award, and two IBM key patent awards.

Fagin co-authored the book “Reasoning about Knowledge,” and has published more than 100 papers and served on more than 30 conference program committees and as program committee chair of four different conferences.
He received his BA in mathematics from Dartmouth College, and his PhD in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley.

Fagin was named an IEEE Fellow for “contributions to finite-model theory and to relational database theory,” an ACM Fellow for “creating the field of finite model theory and for fundamental research in relational database theory and in reasoning about knowledge,” and an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow for “fundamental contributions to computational complexity theory, database theory, and the theory of multi-agent systems.”

He holds a Docteur Honoris Causa commemoration from the University of Paris, and was named a “Highly Cited Researcher” by ISI (the Institute for Scientific Information). He was the winner of the 2004 ACM SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award, a lifetime achievement award in databases, for “fundamental contributions to database theory.”

The McDowell Award is given to individuals for outstanding recent theoretical, design, educational, practical, or other innovative contributions in the field of computing. The award may be given for a single contribution of great merit or a series of lesser contributions that have had or are expected to have an important influence on the computer field. It consists of a bronze medal and a $2,000 honorarium. For more information, visit

McDowell, who spent decades working for IBM, directed development of the first commercial electronic calculator. He was later responsible for development of major advances, including IBM’s card-programmed calculator, magnetic drums and tape units, magnetic core and disc storage, the company’s “700” systems, and the Naval Ordinance Research Calculator.

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