IEEE Computer Society Leadership

Stephen S. Yau

1974-75 IEEE Computer Society President



Biographical Data
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Stephen S. Yau
is currently Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Arizona State University.  He was professor and chair of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at Arizona State University in 1994 - 2001, and the Computer and Information Sciences Department at the University of Florida, Gainesville in 1988-94.  In 1988-92, he was also the director of the Software Engineering Research Center at the University of Florida.  In 1961, he joined Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois as an Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering in 1961 and later became Walter P. Murphy Chair Professor and the chair of the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at Northwestern University until 1988.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Professor Yau’s research has included various practical and fundamental research issues in distributed computing systems. His early and well-known research contributions were in the areas related to switching circuits, applied graph theory, communication nets, associative memory systems, software reliability and maintainability. Experiences in these research areas helped him effectively focus his research interests on solving both theoretical and practical problems related to software design and development techniques for distributed computing systems.  As distributed computing systems became more well-known in the 70’s, Professor Yau advocated that the key to successful and practical utilization of any distributed system is the presence of systematic design and development methods for distributed application software. He investigated the challenges in this emerging area, and made significant contributions.

Professor Yau’s early contributions in design representation and verification of distributed software were fundamental precursors to various other research contributions related to the application of object-oriented techniques in distributed software development. For instance, his work on applying Petri-nets to represent and analyze distributed software was timely and effective because it showed how the inherent concurrency, communication, and encapsulation of object-oriented distributed software can be systematically represented and analyzed to design and develop complex object-oriented distributed software. This work was done even before object-oriented design techniques gained popularity. Professor Yau later focused on the application of object-oriented techniques in developing distributed application software for various environments.  His work on software development methods for Autonomous Decentralized Systems (ADS) is noteworthy. He further advanced the state of distributed application software development by applying object-oriented Stephen Yau and Tsutomu Kanaicomponent integration and component customization techniques. These contributions are valuable in that they present practical and easy-to-use methods to develop distributed software by integrating software components from various sources, thereby achieving a high-degree of reusability.  Recently Professor Yau has been focusing on the distributed software development issues for ubiquitous (also known as pervasive) computing environments. His current work on Reconfigurable Context-Sensitive Middleware (RCSM) is unique and is helping to advance the state of the art in the emerging discipline of ubiquitous computing. As part of the RCSM research, he has developed methods to develop object-oriented context-sensitive (or context-aware) application software. Context-sensitivity is an important property of most ubiquitous computing applications. His methods allow software developers to easily incorporate context-sensitivity into application designs without significantly changing the development process. Moreover, his contributions show how to allow spontaneous and ad hoc interactions of distributed application software in ubiquitous computing environments.

Professor Yau has published over 175 research papers and mentored more than 90 Ph.D. students and 115 MS students.  He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers  (IEEE) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received numerous awards, including the Louis E. Levy Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement, the Richard E. Merwin Award of the IEEE Computer Society, the IEEE Centennial Medal, the IEEE Third Millennium Medal, the International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) Silver Core Award, the American Federation of Information-Processing Societies (AFIPS) Special Award, and various special awards of the IEEE and its Computer Society. He was the President of the IEEE Computer Society in 1974-75 and the American Federation of Information Processing Societies in 1985-86.  He served as a member of the IEEE Board of Directors in 1976-77 and the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association in 1996-2000.

He has organized many international scientific conferences.  He was the general chair of the National Computer Conference in 1974, the chair of the IEEE Computer Society’s First Annual International Computer Software and Applications Conference in 1977 (COMPSAC '77), the chair of the Organizing Committee of the 11th World Computer Congress (IFIP Congress 89) in 1989, and the program chair or general chair of a number of workshops and conferences, including the workshops on the Future Trends of Distributed Computing Systems and the International Symposia on Autonomous Decentralized Systems.

He was the editor-in-chief of the Computer magazine of the IEEE Computer Society in 1981-84, and the October, 1984 Issue, The State of Computing, organized and edited by him won the best Centennial Magazine Award from the IEEE. He served as an editor of the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Computer Communications.

He received the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1959 and 1961, and the B.S. degree from the National Taiwan University, Taipei in 1958, all in electrical engineering.