Manuel Blum, the Bruce Nelson Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, is a pioneer in the field of theoretical computer science and the winner of the 1995 Turing Award in recognition of his contributions to the foundations of computational complexity theory and its applications to cryptography and program checking, a mathematical approach to writing programs that checks their work. He was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where his parents settled after fleeing Europe in the 1930s, and came to the United States in the mid1950s to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While taking courses in electrical engineering, he pursued his desire to understand thinking and brains by working in the neurophysiology laboratory of Warren S. McCulloch and Walter Pitts, then concentrated on mathematical logic and recursion theory. He did his doctoral work under the supervision of artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics in 1964. Dr. Blum began his teaching career at MIT as an assistant professor of mathematics and, in 1968, joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley as a tenured associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science. He was named the Arthur J. Chick Professor of Computer Science in 1995. Dr. Blum accepted his present position at Carnegie Mellon in 2001. The problems he has tackled in his long career include, among others, methods for measuring the intrinsic complexity of problems. Blum’s Speedup theorem is an important proposition about the complexity of computable functions. The Blum axioms give a machineindependent way to understand the complexity of computation, whether that computation is done by a human or a computer. A member of the National Academy of Science and the National Academy of Engineering, he is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Dr. Blum has held a Sloan Foundation Fellowship and received a University of California at Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award and Sigma Xi’s Monie A. Ferst Award among other honors. He is the author of more than fifty papers published in leading scientific journals and has supervised the theses of twentyfive doctoral students, many of whom are today’s leaders in theoretical computer science.
