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H.T. Kung won 2023 IEEE TCDP Outstanding Technical Achievement Award


IEEE Computer Society Technical Community on Distributed Processing (TCDP) has named Professor H. T. Kung of Harvard University as the recipient of the 2023 Outstanding Technical Achievement Award. The citation of the award to Professor Kung is for seminal contributions on concurrency control and systolic arrays in distributed systems.

Professor Kung is one of the world’s most influential research and education leaders in the field of distributed systems. He is William H. Gates professor of computer science at Harvard University. He and his former students created new algorithms, architectures and designs that have led to efficient distributed systems. His early research in parallel computing produced the systolic array in 1979, which has since become a core computational component of hardware accelerators for artificial intelligence, including Google’s Tensor Processing Unit (TPU). Similarly, he proposed optimistic concurrency control in 1981, now a key principle in distributed memory and database transaction systems, including MySQL, Apache CouchDB, Google’s App Engine, and Ruby on Rails. He remains an active researcher, with ongoing contributions to hardware design, parallel computing, wireless networking, signal processing, privacy and security, and artificial intelligence.

Professor Kung is also well-known as an influential mentor. Throughout his career, he has been equally regarded for the role of his own research as for the legacy of his students, who have gone on to become pillars at Y Combinator, Google Brain, IBM, Intel, MediaTek, Stanford, and MIT. Professor Kung received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from National Tsing Hua University in 1968. He received his Ph.D. degree from Carnegie Mellon University in 1973. He taught at Carnegie Mellon for 19 years before being appointed McKay Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Harvard in 1992.

Professor Kung was elected a member of the US National Academy of Engineering in 1993 for introducing the idea of systolic computation, contributions to parallel computing, and applying complexity analysis to very-large-scale-integrated (VLSI) computation. In addition, he is a Guggenheim Fellow, member of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, as well as president and co-founder of the Taiwan AI Academy, a non-profit organization which has cultivated over 10,000 AI talents for various industries. He received the IEEE CS Charles Babbage Award in 1990, Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Law Association Inventor of the Year Award in 1991, and the ACM SIGOPS Hall of Fame Award in 2015.