ACM Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory

SIGACT Distinguished Service Award

The Theory community benefits in many ways from the dedicated service, above and beyond the call of duty, of many of its members. Among other contributions, the field’s members underpin the operation of conferences, journals, prizes, funding agencies, and other community activities, help ensure funding for the field, and promote the recognition of the field by external communities. The SIGACT Distinguished Service Award is intended to recognize and promote their contributions, as well as to raise awareness of the need for and importance of such service, for the health of our community.

The award is given annually to an individual or group who has made substantial service contributions to the Theoretical Computer Science community. (From 2002 to 2012, the award was given biennially.) It is presented at the ACM Symposium on Theory of Computing, and comes with a $3,000 prize, a travel grant of up to $700 to attend the conference, and complimentary conference registration.


The award can be given to an individual or a group of individuals, for a single contribution or for a series of contributions over a career. All living individuals are eligible with the exception of the sitting SIGACT Chair, an individual or a group of individuals who nominated a majority of the current selection committee members, or a member of the current selection committee. ACM’s Policy for Honors Conferred by ACM will be followed in conferring this award.


Nomination deadline: April 30, 2024.

Nominations can be made by any member of the Theory of Computing community. The nomination should contain

  • the proposer’s name, affiliation, email address, and URL
  • a proposed citation of no more than 1200 characters
  • a description of the nominee’s service activities in no more than 6000 characters (about 3 normal pages)
  • the nominee’s CV
  • up to 5 additional letters of support, no more than 4000 characters (about 2 pages) each
  • (optional) additional documentation of no more than 10 pages that will be studied by the selection committee at their discretion

Nominations are to be submitted via email in PDF format by the nomination deadline to the Selection Committee chair at Please put “SIGACT Distinguished Service Award Nomination” in the subject line.

It is recommended that those who intend to submit a nomination inform the Selection Committee chair at least two weeks in advance by email to the same email address, Please put “Intention to nominate” in the subject line.

Selection Committee

The winner is selected by a three-member committee. The SIGACT chair appoints the selection committee to serve staggered terms over three award cycles. The 2024 Selection Committee members are Paul Beame (chair), Rajiv Gandhi, and Jelani Nelson.


  • 2023: Jelani Nelson
  • 2022: Rajiv Gandhi
  • 2021: Paul Beame
  • 2020: Dieter van Melkebeek
  • 2019: Rebecca Wright
  • 2017: Alistair Sinclair
  • 2016: László Babai
  • 2015: Avi Wigderson
  • 2014: Lance Fortnow
  • 2013: Lane Hemaspaandra
  • 2012: Sampath Kannan
  • 2010: Hal Gabow
  • 2008: Richard Karp
  • 2006: Tom Leighton
  • 2004: Rockford J. Ross
  • 2002: Alan Selman
  • 2001: Michael Langston
  • 2000: S. Rao Kosaraju
  • 1999: Fred S. Roberts
  • 1998: Ian Parberry
  • 1997: David S. Johnson