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2017 Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award

James E. Smith
James E. Smith

A Professor Emeritus in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, James E. Smith is known for his work on computer architecture and high-performance computing, both inside and outside of academia.

He joined the faculty at Wisconsin after earning his PhD from Illinois in 1976. Over many years of working at Wisconsin and in the private sector, he developed dynamic history-based branch predictors, instruction issuing methods, and techniques for providing precise interrupts that are still widely used. 

In 1979, Smith took a two-year leave of absence to work for the Control Data Corporation, participating in the design of the CYBER 180/990.  From 1984-89, he was the principal architect and a logic designer for the ACA ZS-1, a scientific computer that used a dynamically scheduled, superscalar processor architecture.

Smith also joined Cray Research from 1989 to 1994, heading a team that worked on the development and analysis of supercomputers. This work was focused on advanced vector processor implementations, high bandwidth memory systems, and interconnection networks.

Smith retired from Wisconsin in 2007 but went on to conduct further research at Google and Intel.

In 1999, he received the ACM/IEEE Eckert-Mauchly Award , recognizing his contributions to computer architecture.