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Marc Snir Wins IEEE Award for Excellence in Scalable Computing

4/22/2013 7:28:00 AM

Computer Science Professor Marc Snir, director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory and Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has been named this year’s winner of the IEEE Award for Excellence in Scalable Computing.

Professor Marc Snir, Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor
Professor Marc Snir, Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor
Professor Marc Snir, Michael Faiman and Saburo Muroga Professor

The award is presented for significant and sustained contributions to the scalable computing community through the IEEE Technical Committee on Scalable Computing (TCSC). It acknowledges the recipient’s outstanding record of high-quality and high-impact research.

“I am honored to receive the 2013 Award for Excellence in Scalable Computing and join the company of my colleagues and friends that received it in previous years,” said Snir. “Research in scalable computing is now more exciting than ever. I have been closely involved with such research through the gigaflop, teraflop and petaflop eras; with my colleagues at Argonne, I hope to be part of the team that will usher to exaflop era.”

Snir pioneered the design and development of systems software for large-scale parallel computing systems, including the NYU Ultracomputer, the IBM Scalable Parallel system, and the IBM Blue Gene/L. His contributions included answering fundamental questions about how such innovative systems should be programmed and devising novel interconnect topologies.

Equally impressive was Snir’s breakthrough work (with D. Shasha) on efficient and correct execution of parallel programs that share memory. The “Sasha and Snir algorithm” provided the basis for compiler optimizations of explicitly parallel, shared-memory codes.

Snir also was a major participant in the standards committee that designed MPI-1 and MPI-2, the standard communication interface for large-scale parallel computers. He was the lead author of the heavily cited MPI-1 reference book and was co-author of the MPI-2 reference book. He also was the main developer of many of the features that made MPI successful: communicators, datatypes, thread support, and one-sided communication; and he continues to play a major role in the MPI-3 forum efforts.

As head of the Computer Science Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2001 to 2007, Snir expanded the department into new areas such as human-computer interaction and computational linguistics. He also led the creation of the Illinois Informatics Institute, catalyzing the university community to apply high-performance computing to the biosciences, social sciences, and humanities. Moreover, he led the successful establishment of the Universal Parallel Computing Research Center at Illinois and was codirector of the Illinois center until 2011. Currently, Snir serves as codirector of the Joint Laboratory for Petascale Computing at Illinois, a collaborative project with the University of Illinois and INRIA (the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control).

In 2011, Snir joined Argonne National Laboratory as head of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division. He currently is spearheading efforts in data-driven science, an effort that seeks to develop tools for managing and analyzing the large amounts of data generated by collaborative scientific and engineering projects.

Snir will present a talk on scalable computing and will receive the 2013 IEEE TCSC plaque and accompanying  $1,000 award at CCGrid, the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Cluster Computing and the Grid, to be held in Delft, Netherlands, May 13-16, 2013.