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Arvind Named to New Johnson Professorship

Professor Arvind, an internationally known leader in computer languages for parallel computation based on dataflow principles, has been selected as the first person to hold the Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson Professorship in Computer Science.

A gift from Charles W. and Jennifer C. Johnson established the professorship in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Mr. Johnson is the founder of IMSL, Inc., of Houston.

Mr. Johnson is chairman of IMSL, which he founded in 1970 after 15 years with IBM. Mrs. Johnson has been a company officer since 1971. IMSL designs, markets and supports general-purpose Fortran software systems for scientific and engineering applications on personal, mini, mainframe and supercomputers. The company also offers libraries and problem-solving systems containing mathematical and statistical procedures. Its customers are universities, government agencies and industrial and commercial concerns.

Mr. Johnson received a BS from the University of Wisconsin in 1952 and a BE from MIT in 1955 in civil engineering. Mrs. Johnson attended Dana Hall and is a graduate of Garland Junior College.

The Johnsons also support the Johnson Prize, given annually to an MIT undergraduate for outstanding performance on a thesis in computer science.

Professor Paul Penfield Jr., head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, announced the establishment of the Johnson chair and the appointment of Professor Arvind.

"We at MIT and in the EECS department are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Johnson for their significant and vitally important support," Professor Penfield said.

Professor Arvind-that is his full name-received a BTech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur (1969) and both the MS (1972) and PhD (1973) in computer science from the University of Minnesota. From 1974-78 he was an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, and visiting assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology in 1978. He joined MIT in 1978.

He is a leader in addressing the fundamental issues of how to make computers more powerful by using the intrinsic parallelism in many physical applications.

"He has long believed that advances in hardware would eventually lead to the possibility of machines that were highly parallel, but too difficult to program efficiently," Professor Penfield said in announcing Professor Arvind's appointment. "In other words, the major challenge would be how to harness the parallelism that VLSI (very large scale integration) would provide.

"His dataflow language, Id, was designed to be convenient for programmers, and at the same time to be capable of being compiled for a parallel machine built using the dataflow concept. A prototype machine based on these ideas, named Monsoon, was designed here at MIT in Arvind's group, and has been run successfully in a 16-node configuration. The close harmony between the language and the architecture is a key factor in making this approach effective."

A version of this article appeared in the October 28, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 37, Number 11).

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