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Computer Society Connection

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Ken Birman Wins Kanai Award



Ken Birman is a founding member of TRUST, a consortium that explores challenges in trustworthy computing.

Kenneth P. Birman, N. Rama Rao Professor at Cornell University, recently received 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. Birman was recognized "for fundamental and practical contributions to distributed computing, fault tolerance, reliability and distributed systems management."

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. The widely adopted Isis was at the core of such mission-critical systems as the French air traffic control system, the New York Stock Exchange, and the US Navy's Aegis-class warships.

Birman's group subsequently developed a series of systems that explored challenges of extreme scale using gossip and peer-to-peer protocols. These included Horus, Ensemble, 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.

Birman became a Fellow of the ACM in 1998 and won the 2009 IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems Outstanding Achievement Award.

Tsutomu Kanai Award

The Tsutomu Kanai Award was established in 1997 by an endowment from Hitachi in honor of its president. The award consists of a crystal model, certificate, and $10,000 honorarium. The IEEE Computer Society Awards Committee considers the seminal nature of the achievements, their practical impact, breadth, and depth, as well as the quality of the nomination. The awards honor technical achievements as well as service to the computer profession and to the Society. Birman will accept his award at the Computer Society's 2010 awards ceremony in Denver.

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

Francine Berman Wins Kennedy Award



Francine Berman was one of two founding principal investigators on the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid Project.

Francine Berman, vice president for research at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, recently received the IEEE Computer Society's Ken Kennedy Award for outstanding contributions to programmability or productivity in high-performance computing. She is a pioneer in grid computing and a leading advocate for the development of a national cyberinfrastructure for the access, use, stewardship, and preservation of digital data. Berman's work has had a major impact on the direction of computational science and the cyberinfrastructure. Her citation reads "For her influential leadership in the design, development and deployment of national-scale cyber infrastructure, her inspiring work as a teacher and mentor, and her exemplary service to the high-performance community."

Berman is co-chair of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Sustainable Digital Preservation and Access, an international group focusing on the economic sustainability of digital information that must be accessed and preserved for many decades.

In 2001, Berman became director of both the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure, a consortium of more than 40 national and international partners who worked together to create a comprehensive national computing infrastructure.

Berman is a founding member and co-chair of the Computing Research Association's Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research and currently serves on the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology Board of Trustees.

Before moving to RPI, Berman held the High Performance Computing Endowed Chair in the Jacobs School of Engineering at the University of California, San Diego. In 2000, she was named an ACM Fellow for pioneering work in application scheduling for parallel distributed computing. Berman received a BA in mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MA and PhD in mathematics from the University of Washington.

Ken Kennedy Award

The IEEE Computer Society Ken Kennedy Award was established in memory of the founder of Rice University's nationally ranked computer science program and one of the world's foremost experts on high-performance computing. A certificate and $5,000 honorarium are awarded jointly by the ACM and the Computer Society for outstanding contributions to programmability or productivity in high-performance computing together with significant community service or mentoring contributions.

Top Educators Honored

The IEEE Computer Society sponsors an active and prestigious awards program as part of its mission to promote the free exchange of ideas among computer professionals around the world and to recognize its members for their outstanding accomplishments. Several noted educators recently received two Computer Society awards that honor achievement in education.

Computer Science & Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award

The IEEE Computer Society Computer Science & Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award is presented each year for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education through teaching and service, for helping to maintain interest in the field, and for making a statement about the importance with which the Society views undergraduate education.

Judy Robertson

Judy Robertson of Heriot-Watt University, the 2009 award winner, was honored "for outstanding contributions to the undergraduate education through teaching and the innovative use of pioneering technologies in teaching." Robertson is the principal investigator of a grant funded by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council that supports high school teachers who use game-making projects with their students. She received a BS and PhD in computer science and artificial intelligence from the University of Edinburgh.

Elizabeth Burd

Elizabeth Burd of Durham University, the 2008 winner, was recognized "for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education through teaching and the organization of programs to promote excellence in undergraduate teaching." Burd is the leader of Durham's Technology Enhanced Learning Research Group. Her most recent grant, supported by the Teaching and Learning Research Program, focuses on investigating the use of multitouch software in classrooms.

Taylor L. Booth Award

Recipients of the Taylor L. Booth Award are presented with a bronze medal and $5,000 honorarium in recognition of an outstanding record in computer science and engineering education. A successful candidate must meet at least two of the following criteria in the computer science and engineering field:

  • Achieving recognition as a teacher of renown.
  • Writing an influential text.
  • Leading, inspiring, or providing significant education content during the creation of a curriculum in the field.
  • Inspiring others to a career in computer science and engineering education.

Michael Heath

Michael Heath, chair of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, was selected in 2009 "for contributions to computational science and engineering education, curriculum and scholarship." Heath is director of both the computational science and engineering program and the Center for Simulation of Advanced Rockets at UIUC. He was named an ACM Fellow in 2000.

James P. Cohoon and Jack W. Davidson

James P. Cohoon and Jack W. Davidson of the University of Virginia were recognized as winners in 2008 "for sustained effort to transform introductory computer science education through lab-based multimedia pedagogy coupled with examples that attract a diverse student body." Cohoon's research involves algorithms, probabilistic search, genetic algorithms, simulated annealing, and diversity in computer science education. Davidson performs research in programming languages, computer security, embedded systems, and computer architecture.

Taylor L. Booth founded the University of Connecticut's Booth Engineering Center for Advanced Technology and was a candidate for IEEE Computer Society president at the time of his death in 1986. For more information on Computer Society awards, visit

Microsoft and IEEE Cooperate to Support Students

Microsoft and IEEE have announced a collaboration that aims to increase the number of students engaged in technical pursuits. The IEEE Computer Society, which has long offered its student members access to free Microsoft software, is participating in the collaboration.

"As an information provider to technical professionals, this collaboration with Microsoft will give us an expanded ability to introduce students to more internships, scholarships, and contests," said Violet Doan, the Computer Society's membership director.

"Engineers make tremendous contributions to society by creating tech-nologies that drive global economic growth," said Walid Abu-Hadba, vice president of developer and platform evangelism at Microsoft. "The Microsoft-IEEE collaboration will provide aspiring engineers around the world with tools and resources to convert their innovative thinking into marketplace innovation by equipping today's technical students for tomorrow's jobs."

Microsoft and IEEE will work to-gether to provide IEEE student members with access to Microsoft servers, development tools, and eLearning, including privileged access to more than 300 software titles as part of the MSDN Academic Alliance, a subscription service traditionally available only through educational institutions. An added benefit is the opportunity for science, technology, engineering, and math students to explore job opportunities with Microsoft partners and customers through the Microsoft Students to Business program.

Learn more about IEEE Computer Society student activities at

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