Subhash Khot and Bill Thies named 2016 MacArthur Fellows

Subhash Khot, a theoretical computer scientist who has made significant contributions to computational complexity research, and Bill Thies, a computer scientist who has created communication and digital technologies to aid low-income communities, have been selected t as 2016 MacArthur Fellows.

Often called “genius grants,” each MacArthur Fellowship comes with an unrestricted grant of $625,000 paid out over five years. Fellowships are awarded in the sciences and the humanities and are intended to encourage people of outstanding talent to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations.

To celebrate Khot and Thies receiving this great honor, ACM has opened several of their important works. (See sidebar for links.)

ACM member Subhas KhotKhot is best-known for his conception of Unique Games Conjecture. The conjecture has ushered in a useful way of addressing two of the most challenging and enduring questions in computational complexity theory: 1) How difficult is a problem to solve and 2) If you found the best method of solving the problem, how quickly could a computer find a solution using the method. A deeper understanding of the limitations of computing could have far-reaching impact and Khot’s insights have opened up fresh new avenues of exploration in this area.

Khot is an active ACM Professional Member. He received honorable mention in the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2003 and has published in several ACM publications including Journal of the ACM and proceedings of the Annual ACM Symposium on the Theory of Computing.

ACM member Bill ThiesBill Thies’s research focuses on the design and evaluation of technologies that contribute to the socio-economic development of low income communities with a focus on healthcare and education. 99 Dots,a  new project he is championing, uses mobile phones and innovative packaging to monitor medication adherence. Based at Microsoft Research in India, Thies has been monitoring the effectiveness of the 99 Dots system for tuberculosis patients in rural India.

As Thies’s work draws on many sub-disciplines of computer science, he has participated in varied ACM conferences and events including Learning@Scale and the Annual ACM Symposium on Computing for Development. An active ACM member, Thies was an International co-winner, ACM SIGPLAN Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2009. 

To view the MacArthur Foundation’s citations for Khot and Thies, visit:

Subhash Khot's Top Five Downloaded Papers

William Thies's Top Five Downloaded Papers