Ian Foster to receive IEEE Computer Society’s Tsutomu Kanai Award

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

Ian Foster, director of the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, has been named the recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s 2011 Tsutomu Kanai Award, which recognizes major contributions to state-of-the-art distributed computing systems and their applications.

Foster was acknowledged for his pioneering research in grid computing, integrating geographically distributed instruments, computers and data.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award,” said Foster. “Distributed computing is critical for solving complex system-level problems in a wide range of applications, from energy and climate to bioinformatics and molecular engineering, and continues to enable breakthroughs in research across the sciences.”

Foster is the Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science at UChicago and an Argonne Distinguished Fellow at Argonne. He is considered one of the world’s foremost researchers in distributed, parallel and data–intensive computing technologies.

The primary focus of Foster’s research has been the acceleration of discovery in a networked world. In partnership with many others, notably Carl Kesselman of the University of Southern California and Steven Tuecke, deputy director of the Computation Institute (formerly of Argonne and Univa Inc.), Foster developed and promulgated concepts and methods that underpin grid computing.

These methods allow computing to be delivered reliably and securely on demand, as a service, and permit the formation and operation of virtual organizations linking people and resources worldwide. These results, and the associated Globus open-source software, have helped advance discovery in such areas as high-energy physics, environmental science and biomedicine. Grid computing methods also have proved influential outside the world of science, contributing to the emergence of cloud computing.

Among recent projects, Globus Online seeks to outsource complex and time-consuming research management processes to software-as-a-service providers. The goal is to make the discovery potential of massive data, exponentially faster computers, and deep interdisciplinary collaboration accessible to every researcher, not just select “big science” projects.

Foster received a B.S. degree with first-class honors from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and a Ph.D. from Imperial College, United Kingdom, both in computer science. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Association for Computing Machinery and British Computer Society. His other awards include the Global Information Infrastructure Next Generation award, the British Computer Society’s Lovelace Medal, R&D Magazine's Innovator of the Year and honorary doctorates from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand and CINVESTAV, Mexico. He co-founded Univa Inc., a company established to deliver grid and cloud computing solutions.

The award, which includes a $10,000 honorarium, will be presented at the Computer Society’s 2011 awards dinner on May 25, 2011 in Albuquerque, N.M.

About the Computation Institute

The Computation Institute is an intellectual nexus for scientists and scholars pursuing multi-disciplinary research, and a resource center for developing and applying innovative computational approaches. Founded in 1999, it is home to more than 100 faculty, fellows and staff who research complex, system-level problems in such areas as biomedicine, energy and climate, astronomy and astrophysics, computational economics, and molecular engineering. CI is home to CIM-EARTH and the new Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy. The CI team also manages TeraGrid, the world’s largest, most comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure for open scientific research.

About the Computer Society

With nearly 85,000 members, the IEEE Computer Society is the world’s leading organization of computing professionals. Founded in 1946, and the largest of the 39 societies of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Computer Society is dedicated to advancing the theory and application of computer and information-processing technology, and is known globally for its computing standards activities.

The Tsutomu Kanai Award was established in 1997 by a generous endowment from Hitachi Ltd., and named in honor of former Hitachi president Tsutomu Kanai. The award recognizes major contributions to state-of-the art, distributed computing systems and their applications.