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Since 1985, the Japan Prize Foundation has selected scientists and technologists from around the world for the Japan Prize for their achievements. In particular, to those who have "advanced the frontiers of knowledge and served the cause of peace and prosperity for mankind". Past winners include the likes of Tim Berners-Lee and Benoit Mandelbrot.

The award ceremony is held in the presence of the Japanese Emperor and takes place during the "Japan Prize Week". However, due to the earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan in March, the 2011 ceremonies were cancelled. Instead, members of the foundation travelled to meet and honour the awardees.

Among this year's winners are two Japanese, Dr. Tadamitsu Kishimoto (bioscience) and Dr. Toshio Hirano (medicine). The other two are Americans whose names are often taken together, for they together built an influential operating system and one of the earliest successful chess playing programs. Who are they?

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