Guang Gao wins B. Ramakrishna (Bob) Rau award

Guang Gao, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Delaware, has received the 2017 B. Ramakrishna (Bob) Rau Award from the IEEE Computer Society. He received the award on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the society’s MICRO-50 Conference in Boston. IEEE stands for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

This award was established in 2010 to honor the late B. Ramakrishna (Bob) Rau, and it is awarded annually for an outstanding, innovative contribution to microarchitecture, use of novel microarchitectural techniques or compiler/architecture interfacing. It is the most prestigious award given at this symposium—the premier meeting for experts who develop and study microarchitecture, compilers, chips, and systems for advanced computing and communication systems.

Gao is being recognized for significant contributions to the field of computer microarchitecture and compiler code generation.

“Prof. Gao’s expertise has been a great asset to the College of Engineering for decades,” said Babatunde Ogunnaike, dean of the UD’s College of Engineering. “As advancements in computing accelerate, his pioneering work will influence a growing number of students, academics, and professionals. We are so pleased that the IEEE Computer Society has recognized him with this prestigious award.”

Gao, who founded the Computer Architectures and Parallel Systems Laboratory (CAPSL) at UD, has developed innovative data flow models, programming paradigms, architecture features, and system software technology. He has also applied these methods to real-world applications and played a key role in the development of the IBM Cyclops-64 Supercomputer.

“For the past 30 years, Guang Gao has been nothing short of a pioneer in the field of computer microarchitecture,” said Ken Barner, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “He is both a scholar and an entrepreneur who continuously innovates in areas such as compilers, parallel programming and data flow.”

Gao has published more than 63 papers, 240 refereed conference proceedings, and 11 books or book chapters. He holds 10 patents. He has been invited to give seminars at many industrial and academic organizations, such as multiple IBM labs, AT&T Bell Laboratories, HP Labs, Intel, Microsoft, Argonne National Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, Los Alamos National Lab, NASA Ames Research Center, Stanford University, NYU, MIT, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois (Urbana Champaign), and many more distinguished institutions throughout the world.

Gao is also the founder of E.T. International, which provides advanced computing systems and software to analyze big data.

Kemal Ebcioglu, president of Global Supercomputing Corporation, presented Gao with the award, noting: “The totality of Prof. Gao’s publications has significantly impacted research in the field of compiler techniques and microarchitectures for instruction-level and thread-level parallelism.” Ebcioglu won the award himself in 2013.

Erik Altman, program director at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center at IBM, said: “It was deeply edifying to see Prof Gao recognized at the Rau Award ceremonies.  There was a full house, and the audience paid close attention to Gao’s remarks.  Those remarks reflected Gao’s erudition — thoughtfully tying personal history, key technical contributions, the impact of other luminaries in the field, and even a discussion of 18th century Chinese literature.  Leaving the event I felt even more grateful to have worked with Gao and been his student.”

Doug Burger, a Distinguished Engineer at Microsoft, attended Micro-50, where he delivered a keynote speech titled “Specialization and Accelerated AI at Hyperscale.”  After attending the Micro Awards Lunch, he said “I am very pleased to see the 2017 Bob Rau award given to Prof. Guang R. Gao – a world renowned leader in the field of dataflow model of computation and its application to the field of microarchitecture and compiler technology.  This award recognizes Gao’s tireless dedication and contributions to mainstreaming dataflow technology, which I believe will become increasingly important given the end of Moore’s Law.  I view a transformation of computer architecture by dataflow to be inevitable; a North Star which has been inspired in part by Gao’s seminal contributions.”

Others in attendance said the award was overdue and praised Gao as a patient, passionate thinker.

The awards committee was composed of leaders in the field, including: Ebcioglu, Wen-Mei Hwu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois, Natalie Enright-Jerger, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto, Bill Mangione-Smith, sole proprietor of Phase Two LLC, Gurindar Sohi, a professor of computer sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Andrew Wolfe, founder of Wolfe Consulting.

Gao has been on the UD faculty since 1996 and is an ACM Fellow and an IEEE Fellow. In 2011, he won the Gauss Award, given for the most outstanding paper in scalable supercomputing.

In 1986, Gao was the first person from mainland China to earn a doctoral degree in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He earned his bachelor’s degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing.