People in Computing #1

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October 21, 2020
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ne of the benefits of being part of the ACM community is the opportunity to connect, meet and learn about the unique scientific accomplishments and personal journeys of professionals working in the field. The People in Computing series of Selects is intended to showcase members of the ACM from all walks of life, whose stories are an inspiration for the larger computing community.

We kick off our first People in Computing Selects with a brief shortlist of professionals whose contributions in computing have had broad implications, both in our field and in society at large.

We recognize that we cannot immediately acknowledge every professional through one shortlist. We will continue this series by presenting a mix of Selects where:

  • You can learn about and/or rediscover role models and peers, both in ACM and in computing
  • You can learn about pioneering work, emerging breakthroughs, and the people responsible for these innovations in specific domains

This People in Computing Select is a starting point to showcase people and stories that have, will continue to, or will define computing. We kindly encourage sending your feedback and suggestions to for how we can do better. We look forward to your guidance on how we can continue to improve ACM Selects together.

Discover more people shaping computing through the ACM Awards program, the Distinguished Speakers Program, and the People of ACM bulletin.

Frances E. Allen

For pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution. Frances E. Allen was the first woman recipient of the ACM A.M. Turing Award.
[Read her bio]

Remembering Frances Allen

First published on the IBM Research blog, August 5, 2020.

As a pioneer in compiler organization and optimization algorithms, Frances E. Allen made seminal contributions to the world of computing. This IBM Research blog looks back on her storied career, providing perspective on how her contributions inspired the next generation of innovations and computer scientists.
[Read more]
[Read the CACM article]
[Read the Verge article]

IBM's single-processor supercomputer efforts

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 53, No. 12, December 2010.

This Communications of the ACM article provides an intriguing retrospective on the genesis and impact of the pioneering IBM Stretch and ACS projects, both of which are foundational work that have significantly shaped the computing industry.
[Read more]

An Interview with Frances E. Allen

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 54, No. 1, January 2011.

In this Communications of the ACM article, Frances E. Allen, recipient of the 2006 ACM A.M. Turing Award, reflects on her career and contributions to the field.
[Read more]

"You know, it’s somewhat of the same sort of thing: it’s kind of challenging, and interesting; and how does one involve oneself in it? What capabilities does one bring to it that will make a difference?”

-- Frances E. Allen, pioneering computer scientist and recipient of the 2006 A.M. Turing Award, on computing.

David Patterson

For pioneering a systematic, quantitative approach to the design and evaluation of computer architectures with enduring impact on the microprocessor industry. David Andrew Patterson's research, teaching and service are recognized by over 40 world-class awards including an ACM and IEEE Fellowships and memberships in the National Academy of Engineering, the National Academy of Sciences. He is best known for developing RISC architecture and RAID storage.  A professor Emeritus of Computer Science at UC, Berkeley, Patterson is now a Google distinguished engineer where he concentrates on domain specific architectures for Machine Learning. Patterson previously served as the President of the ACM during 2004-2006.
[Read their bio]

Technical perspective: the data center is the computer

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 48, No. 9, September 2005.

In his Communications of the ACM article, David Patterson provides his perspective on how data centers will redefine computing. Patterson explores the kind of programming abstractions, design and behavior necessary to leverage large distributed systems, including his thoughts on the seminal MapReduce algorithm first created by Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat for Google.
[Read more]

ACM Bytecast: John Hennessy & David Patterson

First published under ACM Bytecast, April 29, 2020.

In this inaugural episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan is joined by 2017 ACM A.M. Turing Laureates John Hennessy and David Patterson. Their conversation touches on the paths that led these two luminaries to pursue computing careers and the "aha moment" that inspired their breakthrough work on RISC microprocessor architecture. They also discuss how they see the future of computing architecture unfolding in the coming years, the need for new memory technologies and better security, the importance of collaboration in innovation, and the promise of the open source community to develop both better software and hardware.
[Read more]

John Hennessy

For pioneering a systematic, quantitative approach to the design and evaluation of computer architectures with enduring impact on the microprocessor industry. The tenth President of Stanford University and "the godfather of Silicon Valley," John Hennessy is best known for developing the reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture, large contributions to the development of FLASH memory and Wi-Fi, and a lifetime of excellence in research, education and service. The former Dean of Stanford's Engineering Department as well as President of the University, John Hennessy is now the Chairman of Alphabet and Director of the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship program. Hennessy is an ACM Fellow and recipient of many world-class distinctions.
[Read their bio]

An interview with Stanford University president John Hennessy

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 59, No. 3, February 2016.

In this Communications of the ACM article, John Hennessy discusses his academic and industry experiences in Silicon Valley with UC Berkeley CS Professor David Patterson, including his observation on the progression of Moore's Law in current times, the growing impact of computer science in the field, and Hennessy's (then) next steps after stepping down as the President of Stanford University.
[Read more]

A new golden age for computer architecture

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 48, No. 9, September 2005.

In this Communications of the ACM article published after their receipt of the 2017 ACM Turing Award, Hennessy and Patterson discuss current challenges and opportunities that they foresee will shape the future of computer architecture for the next decade.
[Read more]

Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, Fifth Edition

Published through Morgan-Kaufmann, available on O'Reilly. Ebook access available to ACM members. Please refer to the following FAQ for any issues accessing the O'Reilly learning platform. Note that the 6th Edition has been available since 2017.

For a deeper dive in Patterson and Hennessy's work, "Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, Fifth Edition" explores the ways that software and technology in the cloud are accessed by digital media. The book, which became a part of Intel's 2012 recommended reading list for developers, covers the revolution of mobile computing.
[Read more]

"In general, in almost all the stuff I do, I’m driven by curiosity. I’m always interested in trying something where I don’t know the answer, or where I’m not sure whether the answer is 'yes' or 'no.' ”

-- Dina Katabi,
Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor, MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab

Dina Katabi

For creative contributions to wireless networking. Dina Katabi is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, director of the MIT Wireless Center, and a principal investigator at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Katabi and her students pioneered the use of wireless signals in sensing applications, particularly the ability to "see through" walls with Wi-Fi signals. They showed how to sense humans, track their movements, and measure their vital signs using the reflection of radio signals off their bodies. This work expands the concept of radar and introduces new algorithms to deal with the complexity of indoor multi-path radio reflections, the deformative nature of the human body, and the weak and unknown interaction between vital signs such as human heartbeats and radio signals.
[Read their bio]

Reaping the Benefits of a Diverse Background

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 61, No. 10, September 2018.

In this Communications of the ACM article, Dina Katabi discusses her career, interests and experiences leading to both her research in wireless sensing and her receipt of the 2017 ACM Prize in Computing.
[Read more]

Seeing through walls

First published in Communications of the ACM, Vol. 63, No. 6, May 2020.
This Communications of the ACM article explores the use of machine vision and artificial intelligence to monitor activities through walls using low-power radio frequency (RF) signals. Katabi's work is presented as part of an emerging wave of research around this topic, whose applications can range from improving the quality of human-computer interactions within "smart environment" ecosystems to providing responsive monitoring for the elderly in assisted living facilities.
[Read more]

THere's More

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