The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has named Frances E Allen as the recipient of the 2006 A M Turing Award.
Allen was cited for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high performance computing.
Allen is an IBM Fellow Emerita at the T J Watson Research Centre, and has in the past carried out secret intelligence work for forerunners of the NSA (National Security Agency).
She is the first female recipient of the award, which is named for the famed British mathematician of World War Two code-breaking fame. As Turing himself was famously gay, there are now relatively few inclusiveness milestones for the prestigious gong to pass.
Previous recipients of the prize, which carries with it $100,000 donated by Intel, have included Vint Cerf and Robert Kahn who received joint honours in 2004. Microsoft researcher James Gray, the 1998 Turing laureate, set out alone in his yacht three weeks ago intending a day trip. He is still listed as missing. ®