Ming Li and Paul Vitanyi's textbook on Kolmogorov complexity receives a 2020 McGuffey Longevity Award

Friday, February 28, 2020

University Professor Ming Li, the Canada Research Chair in Bioinformatics, and his colleague Professor Paul Vitányi at Centrum Wiskunde and Informatica in the Netherlands have received one of seven 2020 McGuffey Longevity Awards from the Textbook & Academic Authors Association for An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications.

Professors Li and Vitányi’s book introduces Kolmogorov complexity — a central theory and powerful tool in information science that deals with the quantity of information in individual objects. The textbook covers both fundamental concepts and important practical applications that are supported by wealth of didactic examples.

Professor Ming Li holding An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications 

University Professor Ming Li holds a copy of An Introduction to Kolmogorov Complexity and Its Applications, a textbook now in its fourth edition.

“Congratulations to Ming and his colleague Paul Vitányi on receiving a 2020 McGuffey Longevity Award,” said Mark Giesbrecht, Director of the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. “This award recognizes work that has been hugely influential over time. Now in its fourth edition, this textbook on Kolmogorov complexity remains a comprehensive and invaluable resource for undergraduate students, graduate students, and researchers across many disciplines within and outside computer science.”

Their textbook has received many glowing reviews from intellectual giants in computer science. In the book’s review, Juris Hartmanis, the 1993 Turing Award Winner, wrote, “Li and Vitányi have provided an ideal book for the exploration of a deep, beautiful and important part of computer science.” Jorma Rissanen, Professor Emeritus of Tampere University of Technology and a Fellow of Helsinki Institute for Information Technology, wrote in his review that “the book is likely to remain the standard treatment of Kolmogorov complexity for a long time.” And Ray Solomonoff, pioneer of machine learning, founder of algorithmic probability theory, and the first to describe the fundamental concept of Kolmogorov complexity wrote, “The book of Li and Vitányi is unexcelled.”

The McGuffey Longevity Award recognizes textbooks and learning materials whose excellence has been demonstrated over time. To be eligible, a work must have been in print for at least 15 years and continue to be in press. The 2020 McGuffey Longevity Awards will be presented to authors during an awards luncheon at the Textbook & Academic Authors Association’s 33rd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in San Diego, California on June 12, 2020.

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