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Association for Computing Machinery

Association for Computing Machinery

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is the world's oldest and largest educational and scientific computing society. It was founded in 1947 by a group of computer pioneers, including American physicist John Mauchly, co-inventor of the first electronic computer. The new professional society would foster the science and art of computing.

More than half a century later, the ACM is the nucleus for the ever-changing science of information technology. It plays a key role in leveraging the remarkable growth of the profession. Its membership comprises more than 80,000 computing and information technology (IT) professionals and students in more than 100 countries, working in all areas of industry, academia, and government. For its members, the ACM offers a vital forum for the exchange of information, ideas, and discoveries.

Since its inception, the ACM has chronicled the key developments in computer technology through its publications. Each year the ACM formally recognizes the accomplishments of the people responsible for these advances by awarding prizes such as the ACM Turing Award, named after British mathematician Alan Turing, who conceived of a theoretical computing machine in 1936 and thus set the stage for the development of computers in the twentieth century. The Turing Award is one of the leading honors in computing. Its famous recipients include Donald Knuth, author of The Art of Computer Programming ; LISP creator John McCarthy; UNIX co-inventors Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie; mouse developer Doug Engelbart; graphics pioneer Ivan Sutherland; and artificial intelligence (AI) expert Raj Reddy. The ACM bestows many other awards for excellence, including the Grace Murray Hopper award, the Allen Newell award, and the Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator award.

Education and Curriculum Recommendations

A key mission of the ACM is the education of computer and information specialists. Volunteer committees under the Education Board develop and recommend computer curricula for all educational levels and provide self-assessment procedures, home study courses, and professional development seminars for professionals already in the field. Through its participation in the Computer Sciences Accreditation Board, the ACM is instrumental in evaluating and accrediting computer science programs in colleges and universities.

The ACM has won worldwide recognition for its published curriculum recommendations, both for colleges and universities and for secondary schools that are increasingly concerned with preparing students for advanced education in the information sciences and technologies.

Member Products, Services, and Programs

The ACM provides many products and services to its membership. These include student activities, publications, special events, and a digital library, among others.

Student Activities.

The ACM's vital electronic community offers high school and college students the opportunity to network with noted computer experts and access a wide range of activities and services, including free searching of its acclaimed Digital Library (located at, the world's largest online resource for information about computing. Students can also take advantage of the many services available at more than 500 ACM student chapters located in colleges, universities, and high schools throughout the United States and worldwide. These local chapters publish their own newsletters and meet regularly to hear lectures and conduct workshops and conferences. Other ACM services for students include networking at conferences, the International Programming contest, and the ACM's Crossroads magazine, published by and for students. The ACM has also established many ACM-W (women's) chapters.

ACM Publications.

The ACM publishes, distributes, and archives original research and firsthand perspectives from the world's leading thinkers in computing and information technologies. ACM offers more than two dozen publications that help computing professionals negotiate the strategic challenges and operating problems of their work. The ACM Press Books program covers a broad spectrum of interests in computer science and engineering. The ACM also publishes many professional journals, including the Communications of the ACM, the Journal of the Association for Computing Machinery, Computing Surveys, and more than a dozen additional titles.

ACM Events and Services.

The ACM is the driving force behind many key events in the computing world, including SIGGRAPH, the annual computer graphics show that attracts tens of thousands of people to see the latest developments in this fast-changing field. Over the years, the ACM has produced such high-profile events as the computer chess match between Garry Kasparov and the IBM Deep Blue computer, and the annual ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest, in which thousands of student teams compete worldwide. It also produces a special exposition and conference every four years dealing with the future of computing. The 1997 event attracted more than 20,000 attendees.

Special Activities.

The ACM sponsors scores of special committees, boards, and forums dealing with a wide variety of special topics, including:

  • The ACM's Committee on Women in Computing, dealing with all aspects of computing as it affects the lives and careers of women and girls;
  • The online Risks forum, which deals with risks to the public associated with computers and related systems;
  • The Membership Activities Board, which encourages the development of programs that enhance the value of membership in ACM.

The ACM Digital Library.

The ACM's Digital Library is the world's most comprehensive online collection of information about the world of computing. It features an archive of journals, magazines, and conference proceedings online, as well as current issues of the ACM's magazines and journals. The ACM's online services included a lively IT-related opinion magazine and forum called Ubiquity, and the popular Tech News digest containing information about the latest events in the IT world.

Volunteerism and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

The ACM is built on a strong base of volunteerism. Volunteers serve on the ACM Council, boards, committees, task forces, and other subgroups that comprise ACM's governing structure. They are also at the heart of the ACM's 37 Special Interest Groups (SIGs), each covering a defined computing discipline. SIGs write their own newsletters and are governed by their own elected officers. SIGs come in many forms, including Electronic Forums, which promote the electronic exchange of ideas and information about one special interest area; Conference SIGs, which produce ongoing technical meetings and conferences; Newsletter SIGs, and so on.

ACM Fellows.

The ACM Fellows Program was established by the ACM's Council in 1993 to recognize and honor outstanding ACM members for their achievements in computer science and information technology and for their significant contributions to the mission of the ACM. The ACM Fellows serve as distinguished colleagues to whom the ACM and its members look for guidance and leadership as the world of information technology evolves. More than 300 people have been recognized as ACM Fellows.

Code of Ethics

The ACM has developed a code of ethics for its members based on the following seven major tenets:

  1. Contribute to society and human well-being.
  2. Avoid harm to others.
  3. Be honest and trustworthy.
  4. Be fair and take action not to discriminate.
  5. Honor property rights including copyrights and patent.
  6. Give proper credit for intellectual property.
  7. Respect the privacy of others.

see also Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (ieee); Turing, Alan M.

Christopher Morgan


Peterson, Tommy. "Connecting IT and Society." Computerworld Magazine. August 23, 2001. <>

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