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Susan Eggers receives Eckert-Mauchly Award for outstanding contributions to computer architecture

Susan EggersAllen School professor emerita Susan Eggers has been honored with the 2018 Eckert-Mauchly Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the field of computer architecture. The award, which is sponsored by the Association for Computing Machinery and the IEEE Computer Society, is the computer architecture community’s most prestigious honor. Eggers was cited in particular for her work on simultaneous multithreaded processor architectures and multiprocessor memory sharing and coherency.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in economics, Eggers worked in a variety of roles for more than a decade before turning her attention to computer engineering. She began her faculty career at the University of Washington in 1989 after completing her Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley at the age of 47. Although she may have arrived at computing as a career path later than some, Eggers would more than make up for lost time by producing some of the most significant and enduring contributions to the field of computer architecture over the past 30 years.

Most significant among these was Eggers’ role in the development and commercialization of simultaneous multithreading (SMT). While chip manufacturers were achieving rapid gains in memory and logic in the mid-1990s, those physical manifestations of Moore’s Law failed to generate the expected improvements in performance. To Eggers, the most promising approach to translate exponential growth in chip density into enhanced performance was to increase parallelism, or the ability of computers to run calculations concurrently.

Eggers was one of the leading proponents of SMT as a way to boost parallelism, and with it, performance. SMT combines hardware multithreading with superscalar processor technology to enable multiple independent threads to issue instructions to multiple functional units in a single cycle. Eggers and her collaborators demonstrated several substantial advantages that SMT offered over other architectures, including higher throughput, increased speed, and greater flexibility in hardware design. SMT faced considerable skepticism, but over the next eight years, Eggers and her collaborators in academia and industry would refine and validate SMT, which became an essential component in the processors produced by industry leaders such as Intel and IBM. Eggers co-authored roughly a dozen papers about SMT, two of which earned Test of Time Awards in 2010 and 2011, respectively, from the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA).

Eckert-Mauchly Award Committee chair Kunle Olukotun presents the award to Susan Eggers

Eggers also made significant, early-career contributions in cache coherency, a technique for maintaining consistent data across shared memory multiprocessors. These included the first data-driven study of multiprocessor data sharing — which was instrumental in advancing the field’s understanding of hardware and software coherency techniques — as well as novel cache coherency protocols.

Eggers’ interests in performance improvements extend beyond chip design. For example, she was a member of the team that built DyC, an easy-to-use system for dynamic compilation in C that was more expressive, flexible, and controllable than previous annotation-based approaches.

Eggers is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She is being formally honored today by her peers in the computer architecture community at ISCA 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Eggers is the first Allen School faculty member — and the first woman — to receive the Eckert-Mauchly Award in its 39-year history.

Read the ACM press release here, and learn more about the Eckert-Mauchly Award here. Read a terrific interview with Eggers in IEEE Micro here.

Video of Eggers’ acceptance speech here.

Congratulations, Susan! And congratulations also to 2013 Allen School Ph.D. alum Hadi Esmaeilzadeh, who received the IEEE TCCA Young Computer Architect award on the ISCA stage on the same morning!


June 5, 2018

Celebrating Seattle’s sweep of this year’s major awards in computer architecture

This afternoon we celebrated an unprecedented clean sweep of the major awards at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture.

Hadi Esmaeilzadeh, UW Paul G. Allen School Ph.D. alumnus and UCSD CSE faculty member, received the Young Computer Architect Award from the IEEE Technical Committee on Computer Architecture, given annually to an individual who has completed his/her Ph.D. degree within the last 6 years and has made one or more outstanding, innovative research contributions. Hadi was honored “in recognition of outstanding contributions to novel computer architectures in emerging domains, especially in machine learning and approximate computing.”

Gabe Loh, Fellow Design Engineer with AMD Research in Seattle, received the ACM SIGARCH Maurice Wilkes Award, given annually for an outstanding contribution to computer architecture made by an individual whose computer-related professional career started no earlier than 20 years prior to the year of the award. Gabe was honored “for outstanding contributions to the advancement of die-stacked architectures.”

Susan Eggers, UW Paul G. Allen School professor emerita, received the ACM/IEEE Computer Society Eckert-Mauchly Award, the computer architecture community’s most prestigious award. Susan was recognized “for outstanding contributions to simultaneous multithreaded processor architectures and multiprocessor sharing and coherency.”

Another indication of Seattle’s emergence as a center of information technology innovation.

August 21, 2018

Allen School Ph.D. alum Hadi Esmaeilzadeh wins IEEE TCCA Young Computer Architect award

2013 Allen School Ph.D. alum Hadi Esmaeilzadeh, an Associate Professor of Computer Science & Engineering at UCSD (where he recently moved from Georgia Tech), today received the Young Computer Architect award from the IEEE Technical Committee on Computer Architecture at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture.

The award, which is open to any individual who has completed his/her Ph.D. degree within the last 6 years, recognizes outstanding early-career research contributions in the field of Computer Architecture.

Hadi began his graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin, advised Doug Burger. When Doug moved to Microsoft Research, Hadi transferred to the University of Washington, where he was co-advised by Doug and Luis Ceze. In the year of his graduation, he received the William Chan Memorial Dissertation Award for the top dissertation in the Allen School.

Hadi’s research has been recognized by four Communications of the ACM Research Highlights, four IEEE Micro Top Picks, and a Distinguished Paper Award in HPCA 2016. He has received the Air Force Young Investigator Award (2017), the Georgia Tech College of Computing Outstanding Junior Faculty Research Award (2017), two Qualcomm Research Awards (2017 and 2016), two Google Research Faculty Award (2016 and 2014), two Microsoft Research Awards (2017 and 2016), and the Lockheed Inspirational Young Faculty Award (2016).

It was a great day for the Allen School at ISCA: in addition to Hadi’s recognition, Susan Eggers received the IEEE/ACM Eckert-Mauchly Award, the computer architecture community’s most prestigious honor.

June 5, 2018

Women’s Research Day’s virtual format draws large (online) crowd

Women’s Research Day on Zoom.

Earlier this month, the Allen School commemorated Women’s Research Day, an annual event that celebrates the research contributions of women and nonbinary people in the school and the greater Seattle area. While this year’s event was compelled to move from the Allen Center atrium to Zoom due to COVID-19, the online format didn’t dampen participants’ enthusiasm for the program. Allen School professor emerita Susan Eggers, professor and director Magdalena Balazinska, and a virtual poster session in which undergraduate and graduate students shared their latest research, still took place as planned.

“Overall, things went fairly smoothly aside from a few technology hiccups on the day of,” said Allen School Ph.D. student and organizer Emily Furst. “We had a lot of great participation and questions during all of the sessions, and I think it might have been one of our highest turnouts ever. One great thing was that we had a really high turnout of the high school seniors who have received direct admission into the major this year. We try to invite them most years, but due to the event being virtual, they were able to attend from all over.”

During her questions and answers sesssion, Balazinska was asked about her background, advice on research, and advice to students just starting in the CSE major.

“When you’re choosing which classes to take, choose the ones you think will be the most exciting and important,” she said. “Never shy away from classes because you think they’re too hard. Now is the time to learn because it’s easier in the classroom than finding other ways. Be brave, take those classes, don’t just do the bare minimum to get by.”

Participants also heard from one of the leading researchers in computer architecture. Eggers, who joined the University of Washington faculty in 1989, delivered the keynote lecture in which she spoke about her work and what it was like to be among the roughly one percent of computer architects who were female when she entered the field. During her talk, Eggers shared her experience as one of the lead developers of the first commercially viable multithreaded architecture, Simultaneous Multithreading, which was adopted by Intel, IBM, Sun and others and earned her team both the 2010 and 2011 Test of Time Awards from the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA). 

Susan Eggers

“I’ve had a lot of wonderful mentors but I also made sure to pass it on,” Eggers said about being a mentor herself. “As far as I can tell, women in academia do this, mentor women behind us in computer science. We pay it back, we don’t just take it.”

As the first woman ever to receive the Association for Computing Machinery and IEEE Computer Society’s Eckert-Mauchly Award, in 2018, Eggers told her virtual audience that during her acceptance speech she thanked the committee for breaking another professional glass ceiling. She spoke of her research highlights, then gave the high school students, undergrads, graduate students and industry attendees, advice on working in a field predominantly populated by men.

Eggers’ talk fit in with the purpose of the day, which as Furst explained, is to give women and non-binary people in the school community an opportunity to make connections with other researchers and learn from them.

“Whether that be undergrads finding grad students to work with or grad students making more connections with industry researchers,” she said. “It’s also a great event for the direct admits and undergrads to learn more about research in general and the different areas of research within computer science.”

While Furst hopes that next year’s event will once again be held in person, she also thinks future programs could incorporate more virtual aspects  based on the success of this year’s event.

“Regardless of the exact format, our goal will always be to make the event a welcoming space where everyone feels comfortable participating and asking questions,” she said.

Videos of the 2020 Women’s Research Day can be viewed on the Allen School’s YouTube channel here

April 30, 2020