Ian Foster will host ACM-IEEE CS Ken Kennedy

image: ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery and the IEEE Computer Society have named Ian Foster, a professor at the University of Chicago and division director at Argonne National Laboratory, the recipient of the 2022 ACM-IEEE CS Ken Kennedy Award.
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Credit: Association for Computing Machines

The ACM, Association for Computing Machinery, and IEEE Computer Society have named Ian Foster, University of Chicago Professor and Division Director at Argonne National Laboratory, the recipient of the 2022 ACM-IEEE CS Ken Kennedy Award. The Ken Kennedy Award recognizes breakthrough achievements in parallel (high performance) computing. Foster is cited for his contributions to computer programming and productivity through the establishment of new programming models and fundamental scientific services.

Foster pioneered new approaches to using distributed computing to accelerate scientific discovery throughout his career, both within supercomputers and on networks. He repeatedly offered off-the-shelf ideas that proved transformative for computer science and computational science: parallel programming to large-scale tasks, distributed computing on demand (“grid computing”), virtual organizations , universal data transfer, trusted fabrics and cloud management services for data-intensive science. Each has contributed to programmability and productivity in computing.

Select technical contributions

Parallelism of high-level tasks: Parallelism has traditionally meant parallelism of data and low-level message passing. Recognizing that many interesting task-parallel computations were difficult to perform with such tools, Foster and his colleagues developed new programming methods that made it easier to specify interactive tasks, allowed composition of existing programs, used deterministic constructs to avoid race conditions and scaled for large distributed and parallel computing systems. Tools such as Strand, Swift, and more recently Parsl, developed in collaboration with colleagues such as Steve Taylor, Mike Wilde, and Kyle Chard, have been used to develop pioneering implementations of task-parallel program structures.

Grid calculation: Noting the opportunities offered by high-speed networks in the 1990s, Foster and his colleagues, including Carl Kesselman and the late Steve Tuecke, launched an effort to create a unifying fabric of protocols, software, and policies for the use remote and coordinated computers, data, instruments and software regardless of their location. Together, these innovations are known as “grid computing”. Grid computing, in turn, has led to many technical advances, innovative applications, and improvements in scientific infrastructure. For example, the climate community uses these methods to distribute climate data used in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments, while the physics community includes hundreds of thousands of processors provided by hundreds of participants around the world using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator.

A universal data fabric: Historically, network engineers have focused on moving bits and high-performance computing experts on managing data. As a result, end-to-end performance between file systems was invariably poor. Foster and his colleagues, including Bill Allcock and Raj Kettimuthu, have developed new protocols and software for traversing the storage system path of the network storage system, exploiting multilevel parallelism in transfers, negotiating protocol parameters, and detecting and recover after a failure. These methods are now used at thousands of sites around the world and form the basis of Demilitarized Zones (DMZs), subnets that many scientific institutions use to connect to the world.

A universal web of trust: Determining who is authorized to perform an action on a remote computer is one of the most difficult problems in distributed computing, encompassing cryptography, protocols, infrastructure, and policies. The fact that it is now possible to transfer data from one laboratory to another without any difficulty owes much to the work carried out by Foster and his colleagues, including Rachana Ananthakrishnan, on identity and credential management, secure authentication , distributed authorization and, above all, the integration of these elements into systems that can be used end-to-end.

Cloud services for data-intensive science: Foster and Tuecke realized that the emergence of commercial (“public”) cloud services offered exciting opportunities to redesign research infrastructure, particularly by offloading responsibility for previously manual processes to cloud-hosted services. The resulting Globus service provides managed identity management, data transfer and replication, data sharing, data publishing, and other services to the research community. As of early 2021, Globus is used in 13 national laboratories, 65 countries and over 1,500 institutions, has 150,000 registered users and has been used to transfer over 200 billion files and 1.3 exabytes.

Foster and his team have worked with colleagues around the world to implement Globus as a critical data infrastructure element in computational and experimental facilities in projects around the world and in settings as diverse as the supercomputer centers of the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation, African universities and the US National. Intramural laboratories of health institutes.

Field service and mentoring
Foster’s books include “Designing and Building Parallel Programs”, the first book published on the web, “The Grid: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure” (two volumes, edited with Carl Kesselman) and “Big Data and Social Science (two editions), which communicated advanced data science methods to government statistical agencies.

He has designed and led many successful US and international projects, from early grid initiatives to recent collaborations in network modeling and exascale co-design. He has served as general committee and/or program committee chair of numerous conferences (e.g. High Performance Distributed Computing, IEEE Cloud, IEEE eScience) and scientific advisory boards (e.g. SLAC Scientific Policy Committee, UK eScience, NZ eScience Infrastructure, NSF Computing Community Consortium). Foster also welcomed dozens of students and postdocs into his group at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory, people who now hold leadership positions in universities, laboratories and companies around the world. .

Biographical background
Ian T. Foster is Principal Investigator, Distinguished Researcher, and Director of the Data Science and Learning Division at Argonne National Laboratory, and Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Foster holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and a PhD in Computer Science from Imperial College, UK.

He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the British Computer Society (BCS), the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) and from a US Department of Science Distinguished Researcher of the Office of Energy. He received the BCS Lovelace Medal and the IEEE Babbage, Goode and Kanai awards. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, and CINVESTAV, Mexico.

About the Ken Kennedy Award
ACM and IEEE CS co-sponsor the Kennedy Award, which was established in 2009 to recognize substantial contributions to programmability and productivity in computing and significant contributions to community service or mentorship. It was named in honor of the late Ken Kennedy, founder of Rice University’s computer science program and world expert in high-performance computing. The Kennedy Prize includes an honorarium of US$5,000 endowed by IEEE CS and ACM. The award will be officially presented to Foster in November at the International Conference on High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analytics (SC22).

About ACM
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, bringing together educators, researchers, and computing professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address challenges in the field. ACM strengthens the collective voice of the IT profession through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for lifelong learning, career development and professional networking.

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