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|Alma mater||Jilin University
University of Science and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences
|Doctoral advisor||Paul Hudak, Alan Perlis|
|Doctoral students||Yuanyuan Zhou|
|Known for||Distributed Shared Memory (DSM),
Data Domain Inc.
Kai Li is a professor at the department of Computer Science in Princeton University. He is noted for his pioneering contributions to Distributed Shared Memory (DSM) and co-founding the leading storage deduplication company Data Domain Inc. which was acquired by EMC Corporation in 2009.
Li received his Ph.D. degree from Yale University in 1986 and then joined Princeton University. Prior to that, he received his B.S. degree from Jilin University and M.S. degree from University of Science and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In 1986, Kai Li published his PhD dissertation entitled "Shared Virtual Memory on Loosely Coupled Microprocessors", thus opening up the field of research that is now known as Distributed Shared Memory (or DSM) which allows users to program using a shared-memory programming model on clusters. Since this work, there has been a huge amount of work done to extend the idea to other areas (e.g., distributed object based systems and operating systems) and to improve DSM's performance. After joining Princeton, Li himself also led the Scalable High-performance Really Inexpensive MultiProcessor (SHRIMP) project  which investigats how to build high-performance servers on a cluster.
During his Princeton career, Li co-led the Scalable I/O project which attacks I/O bottleneck problems for supercomputers. His work with protected user-level communication has contributed significantly to the Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) mechanism and Virtual Interface Architecture standard and Infiniband standard, which are the communication mechanism for the Direct Access File System (DAFS).
Li also led the Scalable Display Wall project which explores how to build and use a high-resolution, wall-size display system to visualize massive datasets. Recently, he has been working with colleagues at Stanford on a large well-labelled image dataset called Imagenet  to help computer vision community develop object recognition and classification methods for large image data. More recently, he has been working with colleagues at Princeton on developing methods to efficiently manage and analyze the vast amount of data generated by increasingly sophisticated research in fields ranging from genomics to neuroscience.
During his sabbatical from Princeton in 2001, with Ben Zhu and Brian Biles, Li co-founded Data Domain Corporation which built the first commercial deduplication storage system, opening up a new billion-dollar market. In June 2009, EMC Corporation acquired Data Domain for $2.4 billion, outbidding NetApp's previous offer. In 2010, Data Domain product line captured 64.2% share of the market for purpose-built backup devices worldwide, including mainframes.
In Data Domain, he served as initial Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and then Chief Technology Officer (CTO) from October 2001 to August 2002. Since September 2002, he has served as its Chief Scientist, being responsible for leading the strategic direction for Data Domain's product vision.
Prior to joining Data Domain, he served as an industry consultant of AT&T, Bell Labs, Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel, and NEC. He served as a Director of Pattern Insight Inc. and served as advisory board members of EMC Corporation, Inphi Corporation, Intel research labs, and Open Innovation Center of Samsung Corporation.
He was elected as an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) fellow and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) fellow in 1998 and 2011, respectively. In 2012 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. He received Overseas Outstanding Contribution Award, China Computer Federation in 2008.
- Shared Virtual Memory on Loosely Coupled Microprocessors. PhD Thesis, Yale University, September 1986.
- J. B. Carter, D. Khandekar, and L. Kamb. Distributed shared memory: where we are and where we should be headed. In Proceedings of the Fifth Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (HotOS-V), 1995
- Princeton SHRIMP project.
- "EMC Tops NetApp’s Bid for Data Domain." 1 June 2009. New York Times Online.