2013 Ken Kennedy Award

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LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 8 October 2013 — Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee will receive the ACM-IEEE Computer Society Ken Kennedy Award for his leadership in designing and promoting standards for mathematical software used to solve numerical problems common to high performance computing (HPC). His work has led to the development of major software libraries of algorithms and methods that boost performance and portability in HPC environments, which rely on super computers and parallel processing techniques for solving complex computational problems.

Dongarra, the Distinguished University Professor at the University of Tennessee, is the founder and director of the Innovative Computing Laboratory at the University, and holds positions at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Manchester.  He will receive the Kennedy award on 19 November, in Denver at SC13, the international conference on high-performance computing, http://sc13.supercomputing.org/.

ACM President Vint Cerf cited Dongarra’s role in anticipating the staggering challenges facing the HPC world.  “Jack saw the need to keep pace with the evolution in HPC hardware and software in a world that demands higher speeds and performance levels.  His innovations have contributed immensely to the steep growth of high performance computing and its ability to illuminate a wide range of scientific questions facing our society.”

IEEE Computer Society President David Alan Grier said Dongarra’s work remains authoritative. “I’m so pleased to see this award go to Jack Dongarra because he did such foundational work in scientific computing. That work was important in my early career and it remains an influential body of work.”

Dongarra is a leader in research on implementing linear algebra algorithms for high performance computing architecture that has defined the mathematical software field. Many supercomputer vendors have adopted these software packages as the basis of their own numerical libraries.  The software involves the use of memory hierarchies, performance tuning parameters, and other techniques to achieve performance and portability.

He has also been a major force in developing standards for mathematical software that are widely accepted in computer and computational science for evaluating the performance of supercomputers.  They include LINPACK and LAPACK, software packages used since the 1970s for solving systems of linear equations.  In 1993, he formed the Top500 table which used his LINPACK benchmark to show the 500 most powerful commercially available computer systems. These benchmarks enable users to exploit their existing computer hardware to solve much larger problems at less additional cost.

The Kennedy Award cited Dongarra for “influential contributions to mathematical software, performance measurement, and parallel programming, and significant leadership and service within the HPC community.”

A Fellow of ACM, IEEE, AAAS, and SIAM, Dongarra is the recipient of the first IEEE Medal of Excellence in Scalable Computing, and the first recipient of the SIAM Special Interest Group on Supercomputing’s award for Career Achievement.  He was awarded the IEEE Computer Society Sidney Fernbach Award and received the IEEE IPDPS 2011 Charles Babbage Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Dongarra is a Distinguished Research Staff member at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an adjunct professor of Computer Science at Rice University, and holds the Turing Fellowship at the University of Manchester. He is also director of Tennessee’s Center for Information Technology Research.  Before joining the University of Tennessee, he was a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory.  He received a B.S. degree in Mathematics from Chicago State University, an M.S. degree in Computer Science from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of New Mexico.

ACM and the Computer Society co-sponsor the Kennedy Award, which was established in 2009 to recognize substantial contributions to programmability and productivity in computing and significant community service or mentoring contributions. It was named for the late Ken Kennedy, founder of Rice University’s computer science program and a world expert on high-performance computing. The Kennedy Award carries a US $5,000 honorarium endowed by the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Architecture (SIGARCH) and the Computer Society.