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Charles E. Leiserson

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Charles E. Leiserson
Charles E. Leiserson
Born (1953-11-10) November 10, 1953 (age 70)[1]
Alma materCarnegie Mellon University
Yale University
Scientific career
FieldsComputer Science
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Thesis Area-Efficient VLSI Computation  (1981)
Doctoral advisorH. T. Kung
Jon Bentley

Charles Eric Leiserson (born 1953) is a computer scientist and professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). He specializes in the theory of parallel computing and distributed computing.


Leiserson received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and mathematics from Yale University in 1975 and a PhD degree in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1981, where his advisors were Jon Bentley and H. T. Kung.[2] Leiserson's dissertation, Area-Efficient VLSI Computation, won the first ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award in 1982.

Work career[edit]

He joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981, where he eventually became the Edwin Sibley Webster professor Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department.[3] Preceding this, he was associate director and Chief Operating Officer of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and principal of the Theory of Computation research group. He lists himself as Faculty Director of the MIT-Air Force AI Accelerator, which is designed to make fundamental advances in artificial intelligence to improve Department of the Air Force operations while also addressing broader societal needs.[3]

Thinking Machines[edit]

During the 1980s, Leierson was on leave from M.I.T. at Thinking Machines Corporation,[3] where he invented the fat-tree interconnection network, a hardware-universal interconnection network used in many supercomputers, including the Connection Machine CM5, for which he was network architect.

VLSI and caching methods[edit]

He helped pioneer the development of VLSI theory, including the retiming method of digital optimization with James B. Saxe and systolic arrays with H. T. Kung. He conceived of the notion of cache-oblivious algorithms, which are algorithms that have no tuning parameters for cache size or cache-line length, but nevertheless use cache near-optimally.

Cilk programming language[edit]

He developed the Cilk language for multithreaded programming, which uses a provably good work-stealing algorithm for scheduling. His bio lists two internationally recognized chess playing programs based on Cilk, the StarSocrates and the Cilkchess.[3]

See Cilk for details on the programming language

Following this, he was founder and chief technology officer of the Cilk Arts, Inc. startup, developing Cilk-based technology for multicore computing applications. The company was acquired by Intel in 2009, upon which Leierson initiated the open source OpenCilk movement.[3][4]

Leierson received multiple research awards in 2013 and 2014 for the Cilk work (see below).


He was formerly director of research and director of system architecture for Akamai Technologies in Boston, a company that developed content distribution networks in the late 1990s. The company grew out of the research made at M.I.T., and where his Ph.D. student Robert Blumofe was Executive Vice President.[5]


Leiserson coauthored the standard algorithms textbook Introduction to Algorithms together with Thomas H. Cormen, Ronald L. Rivest, and Clifford Stein. Leierson mentions this was elected the "Best 1990 Professional and Scholarly Book in Computer Science and Data Processing" by the Association of American Publishers.[3]

Awards and honors[edit]

Personal life[edit]

His father was Mark Leiserson, a professor of economics at Yale University.[10]


  1. ^ Resume
  2. ^ Charles Eric Leiserson at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ a b c d e f Charles Leierson: BIO from mit.edu, last accessed on 9 February 2024.
  4. ^ Programming in Cilk from cilk.mit.edu, last accessed on 8 February 2024.
  5. ^ a b ACM, IEEE Computer Society Recognize Charles E. Leiserson for Advances in Parallel Computing Systems, press release from acm.org on 12 September 2014.
  6. ^ Charles Leiserson, PhD, 1977 Hertz Fellow from hertzfoundation.org, last accessed on 8 February 2024.
  7. ^ MacVicar Day Celebrates Learning, MIT Professors, press release from The Tech, 6 March 2007
  8. ^ Charles Leiserson receives ACM Kanellakis Award, press release from csail.mit.edu on 16 April 2014.
  9. ^ 2014 Booth Award, press release from IEEE Computer Society on 25 February 2014.
  10. ^ Mark Leiserson: Noted international economist, obituary from Yale University on 30 August 2002.

External links[edit]