University of California, Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences Richard Karp has been named a laureate of the 2008 Kyoto Prize, Japan's equivalent of the Nobel Prize, awarded by the Inamori Foundation. Karp is being recognized for his lifetime achievements in computer theory. A senior research scientist at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, he is considered one of the world's leading computer theorists. Karp's work has significantly advanced the theory of NP-completeness, conceived in 1971 by former UC Berkeley math professor Stephen Cook. Karp developed a standard method for characterizing combinatorial problems into classes and identifying their level of intractability. Combinatorial problems that are NP-complete are the most difficult to solve. "Karp's theory streamlined algorithm design for problem-solving, accelerated algorithm engineering, and brought computational complexity within the scope of scientific research," says the Inamori Foundation. NP-completeness theory has become a cornerstone in modern theoretical computer science, and in the 1980s Cook and Karp received an ACM A.M. Turing Award for their contributions to the concept of NP-completeness. Karp has recently focused on bioinformatics and computational biology, including the development of algorithms for constructing various kinds of physical maps of DNA targets, and methods for classifying biological samples on the basis of gene expression data.