Ganesh Gopalakrishnan and Matthew Flatt named ACM Distinguished Scientist

December 10, 2014

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Ganesh Gopalakrishnan and Matthew Flatt now have two things in common: Both are longtime University of Utah computer scientists who are passionate about computing, and both were recently honored with the title of Distinguished Scientists by the Association for Computing Machinery, or ACM.

On Dec. 4, the ACM recognized 49 scientists, engineers and educators as Distinguished Members for their contributions and impact on computing.

Gopalakrishnan, a professor of computer science and a 28-year veteran of the University of Utah, specializes in correctness of parallel programs and in multi-core computing chips and graphics processors. He was honored in part for his work in establishing firm criteria for the acceptance of computer software testing.

“Parallel computing methods underlie all of science and engineering, such as designing new products, predicting the weather or predicting the outcome of science experiments,” he said.

A native of India, Gopalakrishnan traveled to New York in 1981 to attend Stony Brook University, where he received his doctorate in computer science. He immediately got a job at the U.

“I defended my thesis on a Friday and came here on the next Monday. I had my job lined up,” he said.

And Gopalakrishnan said going to the U was his smartest decision ever.

“My attraction to the U was to both the [School of Computing] department’s quality and reputation. It’s also the fantastic outdoors,” he says about his decision to work at the U. “It has been a very nurturing environment. I’m proud of the 17 doctoral students that have finished under my supervision.”

Meanwhile, Flatt, a professor in the School of Computing, loves to dig deep into the computer code as a master of programming languages. Currently, he is working on a language called Racket.

“The reason I ended up in programming languages,” he says, “is because I think I can provide tools to help people program better.”

Flatt was always around computers while growing up. His father was a programmer, and Flatt liked playing around with the computer punch cards. But then he started writing programs on his first computers, which included the TRS-80 and a Commodore 64. “It was just an enjoyable task for me, and I had some aptitude for it,” he said about programming.

After getting his doctorate in computer science at Rice University in Houston, Flatt arrived at the U in 1999 as a researcher, a decision, he says, that was obvious.

“The School of Computing has a really strong story for the traditional computing side – operating systems and programming languages – as well as for the application side,” he says about the U’s computer science department. It has been a great environment for someone like me who likes to build systems.”

The ACM Distinguished Scientists for 2014 come from universities, corporations and research institutions from around the world, including those in Austria, Switzerland, Japan, India and the United Kingdom.

“[They are] drivers of the advances and inventions that are propelling the information revolution in new directions,” ACM President Alexander Wolf said about this year’s honorees. “Their creativity and commitment to their craft ensures that we will benefit as a society in the digital age.”

For more information about the 2014 Distinguished Members, visit: awards.acm.org/distinguished_member


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