Prizes and Computing Research

Ran Libeskind-Hadas, a member of the Computing Community Consortium’s Council and a professor at Harvey Mudd College, has an interesting post today on the CCC blog asking, in light of the recent Netflix Prize announcement, whether prizes are a viable mechanism for encouraging research in the computing fields.

From Netflix’s perspective, the answer is almost certainly yes. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is quoted telling the New York Times (probably tongue-in-cheek) “You’re getting Ph.D.’s for a dollar an hour.”

He notes several other examples of prizes that have led to new results and asks:

Are there some major problems in computer science that could be incentivized by prizes – financial or otherwise? What are the potential benefits and risks of this approach? We’re eager to hear your thoughts.

Add your two cents (or more) in the comments section. (No prize for doing it, though.)

Prizes and Computing Research