Cornell Professor Named Tsutomu Kanai Winner

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 3 March, 2010 – Kenneth P. Birman, Cornell University’s N. Rama Rao Professor, has been named the recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s 2009 Tsutomu Kanai Award.

The award recognizes major contributions to state-of-the art distributed computing systems and their applications. It was established in 1997 by a generous endowment from Hitachi Ltd., and named in honor of Tsutomu Kanai, who served as Hitachi’s president for 30 years.

Birman was recognized “for fundamental and practical contributions to distributed computing, fault tolerance, reliability and distributed systems management.”

The Kanai award consists of a crystal model, certificate, and $10,000 honorarium. The seminal nature of the achievements, their practical impact, breadth, and depth, and the quality of the nomination are all considered. Birman will receive his award at the Computer Society’s 2010 awards ceremony in Denver.

Birman’s work has focused on the development of trustworthy distributed computing systems. Early in his career, he developed the Isis Toolkit, a reliable group communication system that introduced the virtual synchrony model for fault-tolerance. Isis was widely adopted, and was used at the core of such mission-critical systems as the French Air Traffic Control System, the New York Stock Exchange, and the US Navy AEGIS warship.

Birman’s group subsequently developed a series of systems that took group communication a step further, as well as others that explored challenges of extreme scale using gossip and peer-to-peer protocols. These included Horus, Ensemble, the Bimodal Multicast, the Astrolabe platform, and the Gossip Objects platform. Ideas and technology from these efforts have helped shape modern Cloud Computing systems, including the communication layer of IBM’s flagship Websphere product, Microsoft’s cluster management platform and Amazon’s data-center management systems.

Among recent projects, the Live Distributed Objects System offers a novel and easily used Web mashup technology, offers a way to integrate cloud hosted data sources with peer-to-peer technology using an easily learned drag-and-drop development style.

Birman was named as a Fellow of the ACM in 1998, and was awarded the 2009 IEEE Technical Committee on Distributed Processing Outstanding Achievement Award.

The deadline to make a nomination for the 2010 award is 15 October. For more information, visit

About the Computer Society

With nearly 85,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading organization of computing professionals. Founded in 1946, and the largest of the 39 societies of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the Computer Society is dedicated to advancing the theory and application of computer and information-processing technology, and is known globally for its computing standards activities.

The Computer Society serves the information and career-development needs of today’s computing researchers and practitioners with technical journals, magazines, conferences, books, conference publications, and online courses. Its Certified Software Development Professional (CSDP) program for mid-career professionals and Certified Software Development Associate (CSDA) credential for recent college graduates confirm the skill and knowledge of those working in the field. The CS Digital Library (CSDL) is an excellent research tool, containing more than 250,000 articles from 1,600 conference proceedings and 26 CS periodicals going back to 1988.

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