The College of Computing is proud to announce that Vivek Sarkar has received the 2020 ACM/IEEE CS Ken Kennedy Award. Sarkar is the chair of the School of Computer Science and holds the Stephen Fleming Chair for Telecommunications, and is an ACM Fellow and an IEEE Fellow.
The Kennedy Award was established in 2009 to recognize substantial contributions to programmability and productivity in computing and significant community service or mentoring contributions.
"I am delighted to receive this year’s Kennedy Award," Sarkar said. "I have always believed that research and mentoring go hand in hand, and it is an honor to be recognized for my work in these areas. The award is also meaningful because of the influence that Ken had on my career."
Sarkar began his career in IBM Research in 1987 after obtaining his Ph.D. from Stanford University supervised by John Hennessy. His research projects at IBM include the PTRAN automatic parallelization system led by Fran Allen, the ASTI optimizer for IBM’s XL Fortran product compilers, the open-source Jikes Research Virtual Machine for the Java language, and the X10 programming language developed in the DARPA HPCS program. He was a member of the IBM Academy of Technology from 1995 to 2007.
“Vivek is not just a leader in research, but also a generous teacher and mentor, which is to say he is a role model for our community,” said Charles Isbell, dean of the College of Computing and John P. Imlay, Jr. chair.
Since moving to academia, Sarkar has mentored more than 30 Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers in the Habanero Extreme Scale Software Research Laboratory, first at Rice University and then at Georgia Tech. While at Rice, Sarkar was the E.D. Butcher Chair in Engineering, served as Chair of the Department of Computer Science.
The Kennedy Award recognizes Sarkar’s leadership in several areas including foundational technical contributions to programmability and productivity. Sarkar has developed innovative programming-model, compiler, and runtime technologies for parallel computing that have influenced other researchers, as well as industry products and standards. Researchers in his lab have developed the Habanero-C/C++ and Habanero-Java programming systems for parallel, heterogeneous, and distributed platforms. These systems introduced new constructs for homogeneous and heterogeneous intra-node parallelism, as well as their integration with scalable inter-node communication libraries.
Sarkar has led open-source software projects that have had a significant impact on the research community: he has created new pedagogic materials to make parallel programming more accessible to undergraduate students and the Coursera learner community and has mentored junior colleagues at IBM and several Ph.D. students after moving to academia.
Sarkar has also demonstrated leadership in community service by serving as program chair and general chair for major conferences in his research area, serving on U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) advisory committee since 2009, and on the Computing Research Association (CRA) Board of Directors since 2015.
The Kennedy Award carries a U.S. $5,000 honorarium endowed by the IEEE CS and the ACM, which Sarkar plans to donate to Georgia Tech’s Constellations Center for Equity in Computing.
“Vivek is not just a leader in research, but also a generous teacher and mentor, which is to say he is a role model for our community,” said Charles Isbell, dean of the College of Computing and John P. Imlay, Jr. chair. “We are lucky to have him as a leader.”