Marta Kwiatkowska and Susan Murphy win Van Wijngaarden Awards 2021 for preventing software faults and for improving decision making in health

The Van Wijngaarden Awards 2021 are awarded to computer scientist Marta Kwiatkowska and mathematician Susan A. Murphy for the numerous and highly significant contributions they made to their respective research areas: preventing software faults and improving decision making in health.

Publication date: 20-09-2021

The Van Wijngaarden Awards 2021 are awarded to computer scientist Marta Kwiatkowska and mathematician Susan A. Murphy for the numerous and highly significant contributions they made to their respective research areas: preventing software faults and improving decision making in health. The five-yearly award is established by CWI, the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands, and is named after former CWI director Aad van Wijngaarden. The winners receive the prize during a festive soirée on 18 November in Amsterdam.

Marta Kwiatkowska (University of Oxford) is a computer scientist who pioneered research on modelling, verification, and synthesis of probabilistic systems. She led the development of the highly influential PRISM probabilistic model checker, which is widely used for research and teaching and which has been downloaded over 80,000 times. In her research Kwiatkowska showed the relevance of PRISM by applying it in several areas, including ubiquitous computing, system biology, DNA computing, and most recently, safety for AI. Marta Kwiatkowska was awarded an honorary doctorate from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm and is a recipient of the Milner Award and British Computer Society Lovelace Medal. In 2019 she became Fellow of the Royal Society.

Susan A. Murphy (Harvard University) is a professor of statistics and computer science. Her research focuses on improving sequential, individualized, decision making in health, in particular on clinical trial design and data analysis to inform the development of just-in-time adaptive interventions. She led the development of a new type of sequential trial which is now deployed across many medical areas including treatment of various chronic diseases and addiction disorders. She is the former president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and the Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability, recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Royal Statistical Society Guy Medal in Silver, as well as a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine.

The five-yearly Van Wijngaarden Award is named after Adriaan van Wijngaarden (1916–1987). Van Wijngaarden was directly involved in the introduction of the computer in the Netherlands and has been of invaluable importance for CWI and the evolution of the computer in our country. He is also one of the founders of computer science in the Netherlands and laid the foundation for several mainstream computer languages. Van Wijngaarden was the director of the Mathematical Center from 1961-1980, currently known as Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI). This year is the 75th anniversary year of CWI.

It is the fourth time the Van Wijngaarden Awards are presented. Previous awards went to Nancy Lynch and Persi Diaconis (2006), Éva Tardos and John Butcher (2011) and Sara van de Geer and Xavier Leroy (2016). The Van Wijngaarden Award consists of a bronze sculpture by Hanneke van den Bergh.

This year's jury consisted of: Karen Aardal, Peter Apers, Jos Baeten (chair), Sander Bohté (secretary), Remco van der Hofstad and Rineke Verbrugge. Krzysztof Apt and Peter Grünwald will give the laudatio lecture about the winners in November.

About Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) 
Founded in 1946, Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the national research institute for mathematics and computer science in the Netherlands. It is located at Amsterdam Science Park and is part of the Institutes Organisation of NWO. The institute is internationally renowned. Over 150 researchers conduct pioneering research and share their acquired knowledge with society. Over 30 researchers are also employed as professors at universities. The institute has generated twenty-eight spin-off companies.