Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, No. 8, April 27, 2012

Two Computer Science Graduates Earn IBM Fellowship in Two Years

IBM has announced that Rensselaer computer science alumnus Balaram Sinharoy has received a prestigious IBM fellowship. The former doctoral student is one of only seven scientists to be named fellow this year. Sinharoy is the second Rensselaer computer science alumnus to receive the distinction in two years. Fellow computer science graduate David Ferrucci was named a  fellow in 2011.

Sinharoy was a doctoral student in the laboratory of Boleslaw Szymanski. He graduated in 1992. Ferrucci earned his Ph.D. in computer science from Rensselaer in 1994.
“We are very proud that two of our graduates have been selected as IBM fellows in the last two years,” said Martin Hardwick, professor and acting head of the Computer Science Department. “Our department is young compared to others but we are experiencing tremendous growth in our research and education programs. In the last three years, we have tripled the volume of our research programs, and seen a 50 percent rise in the starting salaries of our students.
These new awards show that our graduates are great when they graduate and continue to get even better as they progress in their careers.”

In the past, IBM fellows have provided the creative genius for some of the company’s most storied technical breakthroughs—including the Fortran computing language, the world’s first disk drive, the Scanning Tunneling Microscope, and the Watson system.

“Technology innovation is at the core of everything we do to help our clients make the world work better,” said IBM President and CEO Ginni Rometty in announcing the fellows. “IBM’s 2012 fellows represent the very best of this culture of innovation.”

Sinharoy joined IBM in 1992. He has been one of the main minds behind the design of the POWER microprocessor, the technology that has propelled IBM’s huge gains in market share in the competitive Unix space. Following that work, Sinharoy joined the original POWER4 processor design team and developed some of the underlying algorithms that were instrumental in making the POWER4 the highest-frequency, highest-performing processor in the industry, reaching a record of one million transactions per minute in the largest system. Some of those algorithms have remained a base component of subsequent generations of the industry-leading processor—including POWER7.

“These new awards show that our graduates are great when they graduate and continue to get even better as they progress in their careers.” —Martin Hardwick

Ferrucci is the principal investigator of Watson—the computer system that competed against top Jeopardy! champions and earned worldwide notoriety in both the scientific and business communities.

Ferrucci was recognized for making unprecedented progress in machine question-answering. He has led teams consisting of 20-plus researchers and software engineers inside and outside of IBM, specializing in the areas of natural language processing, software architecture, information retrieval, machine learning, and knowledge representation and reasoning.

He is the principal investigator for DeepQA, the exploratory research project that provided the architecture for Watson—winner of a landmark contest against two champions on the Jeopardy! television quiz show. His approach to intelligent systems uses a scalable, integrated combination of diverse algorithmic techniques rather than any single algorithm. Building on his previous contributions as chief architect of the Unstructured Information Management Architecture project, Ferrucci and his team have significantly advanced the science and engineering of intelligent systems.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 6, Number 8, April 27, 2012
©2012 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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