Football has the Super Bowl. Baseball, the World Series. The computer world has something of its own: it's called the Turing Award, and it's the ultimate showdown of computing skills and vision.
Now, future winners have more than fame to look forward to: Google just upped the grand prize for the "most prestigious award in computing" to $1 million.
The Association for Computing Machinery announced Thursday that Google has increased the funding level four-fold, making it now "funded at the monetary level of the world's most prestigious cultural and scientific awards and prizes," according to ACM President Alexander Wolf.
Wolf, a professor in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, said Google's support helps the computing community recognize the way computers have impacted mainstream users in the way they communicate, conduct business and access entertainment.
Stuart Feldman, Google's vice president of engineering, said Google believes it’s "important to recognize when people make fundamental contributions in computer science, and we want to help ACM raise awareness of these innovators and the contributions they’ve made to the world."
To get a sense of the weight the award carries in the computing world, think of winning an Olympic gold medal or a Nobel Prize.
According to CNET, recent Turing Awards have been given out for work in artificial intelligence, cryptography, Unix, the Internet's basic plumbing, personal computers, Ethernet networking, computer graphics and more.
The award is named for Alan Turing, the British mathematician who "laid the foundation for today’s always-on, interconnected world," ACM, the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, said in a statement. "Turing envisioned the power of the thinking machine, leading the way to innovations that changed the world: programmable computers, mobile devices, cryptology, artificial intelligence, robotics, graphics, and genomics."
Think you have the stuff to compete? Leslie Lamport, a 73-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumus, is the most recent award recipient. He earned the award for "imposing clear, well-defined coherence on the seemingly chaotic behavior of distributed computing systems, in which several autonomous computers communicate with each other by passing messages."
Your average Internet user likely won't reaching Turing-like heights in computing, but hacking and computing competitions are becoming more popular, especially among younger users. New York University is wrapping up the largest student-run Cyber Security Awareness Week in the nation Saturday, and these are the young minds who could eventually find themselves taking the Google-funded grand prize.
The 2014 Turing Award will be presented at the ACM Awards Banquet in the spring of 2015.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter