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UTA's Yale Patt Wins First IEEE CS Rau Award


Figure    Yale Patt leads key research projects in microarchitecture.

Yale N. Patt, an electrical and computer engineering professor the University of Texas at Austin, has been selected as the recipient of the inaugural IEEE Computer Society B. Ramakrishna Rau Award. The IEEE Computer Society established the award in 2010 in memory of the late Bob Rau, a senior research scientist at HP Labs. The Rau Award recognizes significant accomplishments in the field of microarchitecture and compiler code generation.

For more than four decades, Patt has combined an active research program with consulting and teaching. His award citation reads, "For significant contributions and inspiring leadership in the microarchitecture community with respect to teaching, mentoring, research, and service."

The award, which comes with a $2,000 honorarium and a certificate, will be presented at the ACM/IEEE International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO), set for 3-7 December in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

A Pioneer in Microarchitecture

In 1965, Patt introduced the WOS module, the first complex logic gate implemented on a single piece of silicon. In 1984, he and students Wen-mei Hwu, Steve Melvin, and Mike Shebanow introduced HPS, a high-performance microarchitecture that exploits instruction-level parallelism. Five years after that, Patt and student Tse-Yu Yeh introduced the two-level branch predictor, which provides much improved accuracy.

Patt's current research focuses on the potential challenges of 2018-era microprocessors, which are slated to contain more than 30 billion transistors. This includes breaking the abstraction layers that separate the problem statement in natural languages (like English) from the electronic circuits that actually execute the program. Among Patt's projects is ACMP, a reconfigurable heterogeneous multicore microprocessor. He is also working on improving the interface between the processor core and the DRAMs, creating GPUs for non-graphics processing, establishing effective prefetching in a multicore environment, and making more effective use of the runtime system for performance.

Other Achievements

Patt holds the Ernest Cockrell Jr. Centennial Chair in Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned a BS from Northeastern University and an MS and PhD from Stanford University, all in electrical engineering.

With former student Sanjay Patel, Patt coauthored Introduction to Computing Systems: From Bits and Gates to C and Beyond, a textbook now in its second edition.

Patt was the recipient of the 1995 IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Medal "for contributions to computer architecture leading to commercially viable high-performance microprocessors," the 1996 IEEE Computer Society/ACM Eckert-Mauchly Award "for important contributions to instruction-level parallelism and superscalar processor design," the 1999 IEEE Computer Society W. Wallace McDowell Award for engineering and education contributions to the high-performance microprocessor industry, and the 2005 IEEE Charles Babbage Award. Patt is a Fellow of both IEEE and the ACM.

"For Yale to receive the first Rau Award is an honor not only for Yale, but also for our electrical and computer engineering department here at the University of Texas at Austin," said Ahmed Tewfik, department chair. "Yale is one of the top college educators in our nation in general, and computer engineering educators more specifically. He regularly teaches other university professors across the world how to present computer architecture to undergraduate and graduate students. Many of his innovations are embedded in the microprocessors that we all use in our laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This award recognizes his many contributions over the years to research and education in computer engineering."


B. Ramakrishna Rau was among the computer architecture professionals whom Patt respected most. "Bob was one of the giants in our community who left us long before his time. Frankly, I did not expect I would be the first to get this award since I can think of at least two other people who are very deserving of it, including one who is my student. I can only say it is humbling to receive this award that bears his name," Patt said.

Rau, who died in 2002, managed HP Labs' Compiler and Architecture Research group. He started HP Labs' research program in very long instruction word (VLIW) and instruction-level parallel (ILP) processing when he joined the facility in 1989, resulting in the development of the explicitly parallel instruction computing style of architecture that is the basis for the IA-64. A cofounder of Cydrome, which developed one of the first VLIW minisupercomputers, Rau taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, authored dozens of articles on VLIW computing, coauthored a book on ILP, and held 15 patents. He also was a recipient of the Eckert-Mauchly Award and a fellow of both IEEE and the ACM.

To learn more about Computer Society awards, including the Rau Award, visit

Computer Society Certifies Software Professionals

In a world where software is pervasive, the need for skilled, competent, software development professionals is greater than ever. In response to this growing need, the IEEE Computer Society offers two certification programs for computing professionals.

The Certified Software Development Professional credential is intended for mid-career software professionals looking to advance in their careers. The Certified Software Development Associate credential is intended for graduating software engineers and entry-level software professionals.

In 2007, a panel of experts developed a set of exam specifications for the CSDP and CSDA via a job analysis process, an industry-accepted systematic procedure for identifying and validating a job's performance domain and the knowledge and skills that are necessary to perform that job.

CSDP Examination

The CSDP certification is the only software development certification that features all of the components of a professional certification. The program requires exam-based testing that demonstrates mastery of a body of knowledge (BOK); an extensive experience base in performing the work or profession being certified; and continuing professional education, measured and relevant to the BOK.

The CSDP examination covers the following knowledge areas, with the approximate percentage of questions that are covered in the exam:

I. Software Requirements 11%

II. Software Design 11%

III. Software Construction 9%

IV. Software Testing 11%

V. Software Maintenance 5%

VI. Software Configuration Management 5%

VII. Software Engineering Management 8%

VIII. Software Engineering Process 7%

IX. Software Engineering Methods 4%

X. Software Quality 7%

XI. Software Engineering Professional Practice 5%

XII. Software Engineering Economics 5%

XIV. Mathematical Foundations 3%

XV. Engineering Foundations 4%

CSDA Examination

The CSDA credential is a software development certification that is intended for recent software engineering graduates or entry-level software development professionals. First launched in May 2008, the CSDA exam covers many of the same knowledge areas as the CSDP, but in differing percentages.

Exam Refresh Under way

More than three dozen holders of the Certified Software Development Professional credential, representing academic and industrial institutions from around the world, are participating in a project to develop and test the new CSDA examination, which is expected to debut in January 2012. More than 500 new items have been written and reviewed to date. Beta testers will begin taking the exam later this year.

Find more information about IEEE Computer Society certification programs, including registration forms, at

Larson Best Paper Scholarship Seeks Applications

In 1983, the Larson family established the Lance Stafford Larson Award in memory of their son, who died in an electrical accident while an undergraduate at the University of Maryland. The Larson family, which includes IEEE past-president Robert Larson, created this award to encourage students to develop excellence in their communication skills and to motivate them toward achievement in the field of computer science. One $500 award is given each year to the first-place winner. First-, second-, and third-place winners also receive a certificate of commendation and a writing implement. All undergraduate students who are IEEE Computer Society members can compete for the award.

The Lance Stafford Larson Award is presented for the best student paper. Only papers concerning computer-related sub-jects of no more than 20 pages are eligible. Papers will be judged on technical content, writing skill, and overall presentation. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is required.

To apply, complete the application at by 31 October and return to John Daniel (

UPE Student Award Recognizes Academic Excellence

Upsilon Pi Epsilon, an international honor society for the computing and information disciplines, encourages academic excellence for students in computing fields. The UPE Student Award for Academic Excellence, presented in cooperation with the IEEE Computer Society, aims to emphasize the importance of academic achievement to our future computer professionals. Up to four awards of $500 each are given each year to competition winners, who also receive a certificate of commendation and a periodical subscription for one year. UPE award criteria require the same minimum grade point average that UPE membership requires, which is currently a minimum of 3.0 out of a possible 4.0.

Student winners of the Computer Society's Richard Merwin or UPE/CS award within the previous 13 months are not eligible for this award. All other full-time graduate and undergraduate students who are IEEE Computer Society members are eligible. Judging is based on academic achievement, extracurricular activities related to the computing discipline, and letters of recommendation.

The application process for the UPE Student Award for Academic Excellence is described at Submissions are due by 31 October.

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