2014 Ken Kennedy Award

Share this on:

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 11 September 2014 — Charles E. Leiserson of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will receive the 2014 ACM-IEEE Computer Society Ken Kennedy Award for his influence on parallel computing systems and their adoption into mainstream use through scholarly research and development. He was also cited for his mentoring of computer science leaders and students.

Leiserson introduced the notion of cache-oblivious algorithms, which can exploit the memory hierarchy near optimally despite having no tuning parameters for cache size or cache-line length. He also developed the Cilk multithreaded programming technology, and led the development of several Cilk-based parallel chess-playing programs, winning numerous prizes in international competition. The award will be presented at SC 14 on Tuesday, 1 November in New Orleans.

The coauthor of “Introduction to Algorithms,” one of computer science’s most cited publications, Leiserson is also the creator of MIT undergraduate courses on algorithms and on discrete mathematics for computer science. He headed the computer-science program for the pioneering Singapore-MIT Alliance distance-education program and developed MIT’s undergraduate class on software performance engineering, which teaches parallel programming as one of several techniques for writing fast code.

Leiserson’s annual workshop on Leadership Skills for Engineering and Science Faculty has educated hundreds of faculty at MIT and around the world in the human issues involved in leading technical teams in academia. He was the founding Workshop Chair for the MIT Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP), which teaches MIT Engineering sophomores how leadership skills can leverage their technical skills in professional environments. He is a Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow at MIT, the highest recognition at MIT for undergraduate teaching.

Leiserson’s research centers on the theory of parallel computing, especially as it relates to engineering reality. His PhD thesis, “Area-Efficient VLSI Computation,” won the first ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, as well as the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation’s Doctoral Thesis Award.

A coauthor of the first paper on systolic architectures, Leiserson invented the retiming method of digital-circuit optimization, and developed the algorithmic theory behind it. On leave from MIT at Thinking Machines Corp., he designed and led the implementation of the network architecture for the Connection Machine Model CM-5 Supercomputer, which incorporated the fat-tree interconnection network he developed at MIT.

As Director of System Architecture at Akamai Technologies, he led the engineering team that developed a worldwide content-distribution network numbering over 20,000 servers. He also founded Cilk Arts Inc., which produced the Cilk++ multicore concurrency platform and was acquired by Intel in 2009.

Leiserson joined the MIT faculty in 1981, where he heads the Supertech research group in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He received a BS degree from Yale University and a Ph.D. degree from Carnegie Mellon University.  He is an ACM Fellow, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a Senior Member of IEEE and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).

Earlier this year, he was recognized with an IEEE Computer Society Taylor L. Booth Education Award for his contributions to computer science education.  He is also a co-recipient of the 2014 ACM Paris Kanellakis Theory and Practice Award for contributions to efficient and robust parallel and distributed computing.

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.