Turing Awardee Jack Dongarra Gives Robert Stewart Distinguished Lecture

March 5, 2024
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On February 21, 2024, Dr. Jack Dongarra delivered Iowa State University’s Department of Computer Science 2024 Robert Stewart Distinguished Lecture.

In his presentation, Dongarra looked at the changes that have occurred with high-performance computing over the past decade, and he examined possible future trends. Specifically, he discussed how a new generation of software libraries and algorithms will be needed for effective and reliable use of dynamic, distributed, and parallel environments because of the changes in the past decade with high-performance computing. Problems that researchers are currently encountering are going to continue to be challenging as time goes on because of the increased scale of computation, depth of memory hierarchies, range of latencies, and increased run-time environment variability.

“Jack's presentation provided a fascinating glimpse into high-performance computing (HPC) and his research's significant role in driving scientific advancements,” said Dr. Ali Jannesari, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Iowa State University. “His clear explanations and engaging examples communicated effectively with the students, sparking curiosity and generating insightful questions during the lively Q&A session.”

Overall, the presentation (seen in the photos being given by Dongarra) was very well attended and received by students and faculty.

“The students appeared genuinely engaged with Jack's presentation. His enthusiasm for the subject and ability to break down complex concepts into understandable terms captured their attention and encouraged participation. Students actively asked questions about the technical aspects of his research and its broader implications and future directions. Jack's presentation was informative and successful in motivating and inspiring the next generation of researchers in high-performance computing.”

About Dr. Jack Dongarra

Dr. Dongarra (pictured second to the left, along with Meisam MohammadyYan-Bin Jia, and Xiaoqiu Huang) is currently a Professor Emeritus and a Research Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also holds appointments at the University of Manchester and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. While at the University of Tennessee, he founded the Innovative Computing Laboratory. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM); a foreign member of the British Royal Society, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering.

“Jack is specifically recognized for his significant and pioneering contributions to numerical algorithms and libraries that enabled high-performance computational software to keep pace with exponential hardware improvements for over four decades,” said Jannesari.

In 2019, Jack Dongarra received the ACM/SIAM Computational Science and Engineering Prize, which was awarded for his outstanding contributions in employing mathematical and computational tools and methods to solve problems in science and engineering. In 2020, he received the IEEE-CS Computer Pioneer Award for his leadership in high-performance mathematical software. Most recently, he received the 2021 ACM A.M. Turing Award for his pioneering contributions to numerical algorithms and software that have driven decades of extraordinary progress in computing performance and applications.

“His work has been instrumental in ensuring that software used for complex scientific and mathematical calculations can effectively utilize the ever-increasing power of supercomputers,” Jannesari added. “He has developed essential software libraries and algorithms that allow scientists to run simulations efficiently and solve complex problems on these powerful machines.”

Robert Stewart Distinguished Lectureship

Since 2004, the Robert Stewart Distinguished Lectureship has provided a unique opportunity for attendees to learn from some of the contemporary computing world's greatest minds. Researchers invited include recipients of prestigious distinctions such as the Turing Award, Kyoto Prize, National Medal of Technology and Innovations, and John Von Neumann Medal. Past speakers have included Dr. Joseph Sifakis from Verimag Laboratory, who discussed the challenges of self-driving cars; Martian Hellman from Stanford University, who explored the technological imperative for ethical evolution; and Leslie Valiant from Harvard University, who delved into what needs to be added to machine learning. These talks are for the general public, with the presentations focusing on their research work at a level that an informed, but not necessarily expert, audience understands.

The Lectureship is made possible by the generous donation of Dr. Long Ngyuen. He received his doctorate degree from the ISU Computer Science Department in 1975. This annual event is held in honor of his mentor, Dr. Robert Stewart, Professor Emeritus and the first department chair in Computer Science at ISU. Programs such as this showcase Dr. Ngyuen’s commitment to advancing knowledge and continuing to support excellence in the department and at Iowa State University.

“Dr. Long Nguyen's role in establishing and sustaining this lectureship through his generous contribution is a testament to his dedication to education, research, and the dissemination of knowledge in Computer Science,” said Dr. Hridesh Rajan, Kingland Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science. “By honoring his mentor, Dr. Robert Stewart, the event not only commemorates a foundational figure in ISU's Computer Science Department but also embodies Dr. Nguyen's commitment to fostering excellence and promoting continued learning within the university and the wider community.”

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