TCRTS Vice Chair Candidate

Tarek Abdelzaher
Department of Computer Science
University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801




Tarek Abdelzaher received his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1999 on Quality of Service Adaptation in Real-Time Systems.

He has been on the faculty at Department of Computer Science, the University of Virginia, where he founded the Software Predictability Group until 2005. He is currently a Professor and Willett Faculty Scholar at the Department of Computer Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Tarek Abdelzaher is the recipient of the 2012 Outstanding Technical Achievement and Leadership Award of the IEEE Technical Committee on Realtime Systems, as well as the Xerox Award for Faculty Research (2011). He has authored/coauthored more than 150 refereed publications in real-time computing, distributed systems, sensor networks, and control. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Real-Time Systems, and has served as Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Embedded Systems Letters, the ACM Transactions on Sensor Networks, and the Ad Hoc Networks Journal. He served as Program Chair or General Chair of several conferences in real?time computing, distributed systems, and sensor networks including RTAS 2004, RTAS 2005, RTSS 2006, RTSS 2007, IPSN 2007, DCoSS 2008, Sensys 2008, IPSN 2010, ICDCS 2010, ICAC 2011, DCoSS 2013, and IPSN 2013.

Abdelzaher's research interests lie broadly in understanding and controlling performance and temporal properties of networked embedded and software systems in the face of increasing complexity, distribution, and degree of embedding in an external physical environment. Tarek Abdelzaher is a member of IEEE and ACM.


I am deeply honored to have received this nomination by the Technical Committee on Real-time Systems for vice-chair candidacy. Real-time systems is the research community where I "grew up" and where I found an academic home. It is where I learned about research, impact, and commitment. It is where I enjoyed the benefits of friendly advice, mentorship, and guidance, and appreciated the values of perseverance and hard work. I am deeply indebted to many individuals here and to the community as whole for helping me every step of the way. I would love the chance to work for the community to help pay forward.

I see three roles to the Technical Committee on Real-time Systems that revolve around the overarching mission of keeping this community thriving. I see a role in (i) maintaining research excellence and relevance, (ii) providing a nurturing environment for emerging and future talent, and (iii) encouraging successful innovation and technology transfer.

Maintaining research excellence and relevance is the first important role. Historically, the real-time systems research community has made a lot of impact in several practical application domains. Today, we live in exciting times. We witness a proliferation of new cyber-physical computing applications in areas as diverse as transportation, medicine, energy, health, security, social networks, and communication just to name a few. There are new interdisciplinary research opportunities at interfaces with other fields, such formal methods, data mining, sensor networks, privacy, and more. A question with important implications on our success going forward is how to benefit the most from this evolving research landscape? How best to establish the interdisciplinary ties that increase our visibility and impact in related fields, even beyond our home conferences? How to strengthen our conferences to take advantage of these latent opportunities, maintain a strong core, and demonstrate clear relevance as pivotal contributors in this unfolding research arena? What new tracks, journals, and other new publication venues should be created to offer sufficient avenues for sharing our work and to compete effectively in a multi-disciplinary landscape? These are all questions that I'd like to address with community help in order to best exploit the potential we have today to continue on a path of growth, excellence, and relevance.

Nurturing emerging and future talent is a second key responsibility of this community. For the community to grow, we need a pipeline of talent.

What are the trends affecting new job opportunities and good placement in our field? What are the emerging needs in the broader research community that we are best qualified to fill? At a time when computing becomes increasingly relied-upon for far broader and more critical functions, our graduates have the potential to supply increasing value to the broader society. Are we fully successful at leveraging this unprecedented opportunity? Where are discrepancies between the strengths we are externally perceived to offer and the full potential that our field can play in today's evolving technological landscape? Where are discrepancies between our core strengths and future societal demands for new talent? It is important to establish channels with employers of our graduates to better understand these trends, needs, values, and discrepancies, and to better prepare ourselves to address and leverage them in order to promote and grow our talent pipeline.

This leads me to our third role; successful innovation and technology transfer. Ultimately, research is relevant to the degree its results turn into societal impact. With increased industry and government interest in cyber-physical computing challenges, exemplified in many initiatives across the globe, from IBM's Smarter Planet to EU's Internet of Things, opportunities are abundant for our community to deepen its impact. A topic for discussion in this context is how to foster an academic atmosphere that is more conducive to innovation and technology transfer? How to promote a more direct dialogue with prospective clients of our research to help appreciate our potential and understand their transfer needs? What forums, communication means, and publicity avenues are needed to establish a stronger marketplace for our ideas? How can our major conferences, web assets, publications, collaborative efforts, and volunteers be most effective at enabling such change?

The above questions are not easy to answer. A continued dialogue is needed within the community and with the committee, industry, and government to understand what works well, take lessons from our institutional memory, judiciously explore dimensions of change, and ultimately fortify our ability to perform our core roles. If elected, I'd be happy to work with the community, the committee officers, and other volunteers, towards catalyzing such a dialogue, establishing the needed channels, and helping our collective efforts to make real-time systems thrive.