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Engineer runner-up: Amit Singhal
Google Fellow, Engineering

If you've ever used Google search, you've benefited from Singhal's work. The software engineer heads up the company's core ranking team, which is constantly working to improve the accuracy, speed, and thoroughness of Google search. When Singhal started at Google in 2000, the search engine of today was pure science fiction. The time between the posting of a web page to the time a person could find that page via Google could take anywhere from 15 to 45 days. Now, thanks to Singhal and his team, users have nearly instant access to websites and blog posts, and up-to-the-minute Twitter updates. "If you reduce the time that it takes for people to find relevant information by just one second, you save several lifetimes a day at Google's volume," he says. --J.P.M.

NEXT: Engineer runner-up: J.B. Straubel
Last updated July 09 2010: 1:19 PM ET