The Leading Source for Global News and Information Covering the Ecosystem of High Productivity Computing / April 27, 2007
Research and Academia
IBM PERCS Researcher Moves to Rice University

Vivek Sarkar is moving from his position as Senior Manager of Programming Technologies at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne, New York to join the Computer Science Department at Rice University, in Houston, Texas. Effective July 1, he will become the E.D. Butcher Professor of Computer Science at Rice.

"Sarkar brings with him a broad range of experience in programming languages and their implementations. While at IBM, he has played a critical role in the design and development of core compilation and parallelization technologies that served as the basis for several commercial products," said Keith Cooper, professor and chair of computer science at Rice.

At IBM, Sarkar's department includes more than 40 researchers working in the areas of Programming Languages (X10, DALI/XJ, Collage), Software Quality Tools (Advanced Refactoring, SAFE, Scripting Analysis, Security Analysis, SAFARI), Parallel Tools (Eclipse PTP), and Virtualized Execution and Optimization (Dynamic Optimization, Jikes RVM, Metronome, Mirage/PDS). He is also responsible for creating and leading the IBM PERCS Programming Model, Tools and Productivity agenda in the High Productivity Computing Systems (HPCS) program funded during 2002-2010 by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense.

"Vivek was instrumental in the project that produced the Jikes/Jalapeno research virtual machine and released it in open-source form. Recently, he has been heavily involved in the development of the X10 programming language, designed to improve productivity on parallel computers," Cooper said.

Sarkar has often worked on the implementation of parallel languages, including his Ph.D. thesis work on partitioning and scheduling of single-assignment Sisal programs, the PTRAN project on automatic parallelization, the ASTI project for high-level locality optimizations and OpenMP and HPF parallelization used in IBM's XL Fortran product compilers, the open-source Jikes RVM project on scalable virtual machines for the Java language, and the open-source X10 language for high-productivity parallel programming.

"If we can't make microprocessors faster, we can make them smaller, and that's the strategy Vivek has followed in his research. He is leading the way in the multi-core field. Multi-core microprocessors permit computers to exhibit some form of thread-level parallelism without putting multiple microprocessors in separate physical packages. This is the wave of the future," said Moshe Vardi, the Karen Ostrum George Professor in Computational Engineering at Rice and director of its Computer and Information Technology Institute.

Sarkar said the move to multi-core signals "a sea-change in the foundations of computer science." At IBM, Sarkar has investigated ways to make programming in parallel more accessible by creating new programming languages, tools, optimizers and virtual machines.

"Our objective in hiring Vivek," said Sallie Keller-McNulty, dean of engineering at Rice, "is to position Rice as the premier academic institution for parallel software research in the 21st century, both by creating technologies that will be broadly adopted by industry and by introducing a new pedagogical point of view on parallel software that will influence research and teaching in academic institutions across the globe."

Sarkar has lectured internationally on his research, given tutorials at several major conferences, and taught full-length courses at major universities. He earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1987, and has authored or coauthored more than 100 papers in the areas of parallel processing and program optimization, including the monograph "Partitioning and Scheduling Parallel Programs for Multiprocessors." His mentors include his Ph.D. advisor, John Hennessy, and his hiring manager at IBM Research, Fran Allen.

Sarkar has a B.Tech. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology at Kanpur, and a Master's degree in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has been a member of several conference program committees and National Science Foundation panels, and has served as a consultant to the U.S. Army Science Board. Sarkar became a member of the IBM Academy of Technology in 1995, and was designated an ACM Distinguished Scientist in 2006.

"Rice already has a long tradition of leading work in high-performance computing. Vivek's intellectual interests and his industrial experience position him to continue those traditions. He has a clear vision of how we should proceed into the brave new world where every laptop, desktop, and server is a multiprocessor. That vision includes not only language design and code optimization, but ideas on how to integrate multi-threaded computation into the early courses of our undergraduate program," Cooper said.


Source: Rice University