Turing Award Winner On His Pioneering Algorithms

Turing Award Winner On His Pioneering Algorithms

Jack Dongarra’s aspiration task escalating up was to train science at a public high school in Chicago.

“I was fairly superior in math and science, but I was not a specifically great pupil,” Dongarra states, laughing.

Right after he graduated large university, there was only 1 university he wished to attend: Chicago Point out. Which is due to the fact, he claims, it was recognized for “churning out instructors.” Chicago Condition recognized his software, and he made a decision to big in mathematics.


His physics professor prompt that Dongarra apply for an internship at the Argonne Countrywide Laboratory, in Lemont, Ill., a nearby U.S. Office of Vitality science and engineering study heart. For 16 weeks he worked with a team of researchers planning and developing EISPACK, a deal of Fortran routines that compute the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of matrices—calculations popular in scientific computing.

Dongarra acknowledges he didn’t have a history in or know-how of eigenvalues and eigenvectors—or of linear algebra—but he loved what he was executing. The knowledge at Argonne, he suggests, was transformative. He experienced found his enthusiasm.

“I considered it was a interesting point to do,” he claims, “so I stored pursuing it.”

About Jack Dongarra

Employer: University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Title: Professor emeritus, computer system science

Member grade: Life Fellow

Alma mater: Chicago Condition College

The IEEE Life Fellow has since built revolutionary contributions to numerical algorithms and libraries for linear algebra, which authorized software to make good use of higher-general performance components. His open up-resource computer software libraries are applied in just about each individual laptop, from laptops to the world’s fastest supercomputers.

The libraries include primary linear algebra subprograms (BLAS), the linear-algebra offer LAPACK, parallel virtual equipment (PVMs), immediately tuned linear algebra computer software (ATLAS), and the large-effectiveness conjugate gradient (HPCG) benchmark.

For his operate, he was honored this 12 months with the 2021 A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. He acquired US $1 million as portion of the award, which is recognised as the Nobel Prize of computing.

“When I believe about earlier Turing Award recipients, I’m humbled to consider about what I’ve realized from their guides and papers,” Dongarra states. “Their programming languages, theorems, methods, and requirements have helped me produce my algorithms.

“It’s a remarkable honor to be this year’s recipient. The award is a recognition by the computer-science local community that the contributions we are producing in high-functionality computing are crucial and have an effect in the broader laptop or computer-science local community and science in common.”

Dongarra didn’t conclusion up teaching science to superior college students. As a substitute, he became a professor of electrical engineering and computer system science at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where he taught for 33 years. The university lately named him professor emeritus.

Entrepreneurial Spirit

Soon after graduating from Chicago Point out in 1972 with a bachelor’s diploma in mathematics, Dongarra went on to pursue a master’s diploma in computer system science at the Illinois Institute of Technological innovation, also in Chicago. Though there he worked just one working day a week for Argonne with the very same team of scientists. Soon after he obtained his diploma in 1973, the lab hired him full time as a researcher.

With encouragement from his colleagues to go after a Ph.D., he still left the lab to review utilized mathematics at the College of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He honed his expertise of linear algebra there and commenced doing the job out algorithms and writing software program.

He returned to Argonne immediately after acquiring his doctorate in 1980 and labored there as a senior scientist right up until 1989, when he got the chance to fulfill his desire of instructing.

He was available a joint situation educating personal computer science at the College of Tennessee and conducting investigate at the close by Oak Ridge Countrywide Laboratory which, like Argonne, is a Department of Strength facility.

“It was time for me to attempt out some new factors,” he suggests. “I was completely ready to check out my hand at academia.”

He suggests Oak Ridge operated in a identical way to Argonne, and the lifestyle there was more or less the very same.

“The problem,” he claims, “was becoming a college professor.”

“The Turing Award is a recognition by the laptop science community that the contributions we are earning in high-performance computing are essential, and have an affect in the broader laptop science neighborhood and science in common.”

College society is very distinct from that at a governing administration laboratory, he claims, but he swiftly fell into the rhythm of the academic environment.

Though he liked educating, he suggests, he also was captivated to the prospect the university gave its instructors to function on know-how they are passionate about.

“You abide by your have route and study course of study,” he says. “I’ve prospered in that ecosystem. I interact with wise men and women, I have the means to vacation all around the environment, and I have collaborations heading on with people today in lots of international locations.

“Academia provides you this independence to do matters and not be constrained by a company’s generate or its commitment. Rather, I get to perform on what motivates me. That is why I have stayed in academia for so numerous many years.”

Man with glasses and checkered shirt sitting in front of a Tektronix computer.
In 1980, Dongarra worked as a senior scientist at Argonne Countrywide Laboratory, in Lemont, Ill.Jack Dongarra

Dongarra launched the university’s Revolutionary Computing Laboratory, whose mission is to provide resources for higher-performance computing to the scientific group. He also directs the school’s Heart for Details Engineering Investigation.

He is now a distinguished researcher at Oak Ridge, which he calls “a amazing spot, with its state-of-the-artwork devices and the newest desktops.”

Application for Supercomputers

It was performing in creative environments that led Dongarra to come up with what lots of describe as world-altering software libraries, which have contributed to the development of significant-functionality computing in lots of parts which include artificial intelligence, facts analytics, genomics, and health and fitness care.

“The libraries we made have essential factors that are required in lots of places of science so that consumers can draw on those people factors to enable them fix their computational complications,” he suggests. “That computer software is moveable and efficient. It has all the characteristics that we want in conditions of becoming understandable and delivering reputable results.”

He’s at the moment performing on generating a program library for the world’s quickest supercomputer, Frontier, which just lately was set up at the Oak Ridge lab. It is the very first computer system that can course of action a lot more than 1 quintillion functions for each second.

Computer system-Science Recognition

Dongarra has been an IEEE member for a lot more than 30 many years.

“I appreciate interacting with the local community,” he suggests in outlining why he carries on to belong. “Also I get pleasure from examining IEEE Spectrum and journals that are relevant to my certain subject.”

He has served as an editor for a number of IEEE journals together with Proceedings of the IEEE, IEEE Laptop Architecture Letters, and IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Units.

Dongarra claims he’s a major promoter of IEEE meetings and workshops, in particular the Worldwide Convention for Substantial General performance Computing, Networking, Storage, and Investigation, sponsored by ACM and the IEEE Personal computer Modern society, of which he is a member. He’s been attending the celebration each yr since 1988. He has received a lot of awards at the convention for his papers.

“That convention is seriously a homecoming for the significant-effectiveness computing community,” he suggests, “and IEEE performs a important function.”

IEEE is happy of Dongarra’s contributions to computing and has honored him in excess of the decades. In 2008 he obtained the very first IEEE Medal of Excellence in Scalable Computing. He also received the 2020 Laptop or computer Pioneer Award, the 2013 ACM/IEEE Ken Kennedy Award, the 2011 IEEE Charles Babbage Award and the 2003 Sidney Fernbach Award.

“I’m pretty pleased and happy to be a member of IEEE,” he claims. “I feel it provides a beneficial provider to the neighborhood.”