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Zvi Galil

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Zvi Galil
Galil in 2023
Born (1947-06-26) June 26, 1947 (age 76)[2]
Alma mater
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorJohn Hopcroft[1]
Doctoral students

Zvi Galil (Hebrew: צבי גליל; born June 26, 1947) is an Israeli-American computer scientist and mathematician. He has served as the dean of the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science and as the president of Tel Aviv University from 2007 through 2009. From 2010 to 2019, he was the dean of the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing.[3]

His research interests include the design and analysis of algorithms, computational complexity and cryptography. He has been credited with coining the terms stringology and sparsification.[4][5] He has published over 200 scientific papers[6] and is listed as an ISI highly cited researcher.[7]

Early life and education[edit]

Galil was born in Tel Aviv in Mandatory Palestine in 1947. He completed both his B.Sc. (1970) and his M.Sc. (1971) in applied mathematics, both summa cum laude, at Tel Aviv University before earning his Ph.D. in computer science at Cornell University in 1975 under the supervision of John Hopcroft.[1] He then spent a year working as a post-doctorate researcher at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.[8]


From 1976 until 1995 he worked in the computer science department of Tel Aviv University, serving as its chair from 1979 to 1982. In 1982 he joined the faculty of Columbia University, serving as the chair of the computer science department from 1989-1994.[2][8] From 1995-2007, he served as the dean of the Columbia University Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science.[9] In this position, he oversaw the naming of the school in honor of Chinese businessman Z. Y. Fu after a large donation was given in his name.[10] At Columbia, he was appointed the Julian Clarence Levi Professor of Mathematical Methods and Computer Science in 1987, and the Morris and Alma A. Schapiro Dean of Engineering in 1995.[2]

Galil served as the president of Tel Aviv University starting in 2007 (following Itamar Rabinovich),[11] but resigned and returned to the faculty in 2009, and was succeeded by Joseph Klafter.[12][13] He was named as the dean of Georgia Tech's college of computing on April 9, 2010.[3] At Georgia Tech, together with Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, Galil conceived of the college of computing's online Master of Science in computer science (OMSCS) program, and he led the faculty creation of the program.[14] OMSCS went on to become the largest online master’s program in computer science in the United States.[15] OMSCS has been featured in hundreds of articles, including a 2013 front-page article in The New York Times and 2021 interviews in The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.[14][16][17] Inside Higher Education noted that OMSCS "suggests that institutions can successfully deliver high-quality, low-cost degrees to students at scale".[18] The Chronicle of Higher Education noted that OMSCS "may have the best chance of changing how much students pay for a traditional degree".[19] A 2023 Forbes article titled "The Greatest Degree Program Ever" stated that OMSCS "is - by nearly any measure - the most successful degree program in history".[20] Galil stepped down as dean and returned to a regular faculty position in June 2019.[21][22] He now serves as the Frederick G. Storey Chair in Computing and Executive Advisor to Online Programs at Georgia Tech.

Professional service[edit]

In 1982, Galil founded the Columbia University Theory Day and organized the event for the first 15 years. It still exists as the New York Area Theory Day.[23] From 1983 to 1987, Galil served as the chairman of ACM SIGACT, an organization that promotes research in theoretical computer science.[24] He served as managing editor of SIAM Journal on Computing from 1991 to 1997 and editor in chief of Journal of Algorithms from 1988 to 2003.


Galil's research is in the areas of algorithms (particularly string and graph algorithms) complexity, and cryptography. He has also conducted research in experimental design with Jack Kiefer.

Galil's real-time algorithms are the fastest possible for string matching and palindrome recognition, and they work even on the most basic computer model, the multi-tape Turing machine. More generally, he formulated a "predictability" condition that allows any complying online algorithm to be converted to a real-time algorithm.[25][26] With Joel Seiferas, Galil improved the time-optimal algorithms to be space optimal (logarithmic space) as well.[27]

Galil worked with Dany Breslauer to design a linear-work, O(loglogn) parallel algorithm for string matching,[28] and they later proved it to have the best possible time complexity among linear work algorithms.[29] With other computer scientists, he designed a constant-time linear-work randomized search algorithm to be used when the pattern preprocessing is given.[30]

With his students, Galil designed more than a dozen currently-fastest algorithms for exact or approximate, sequential or parallel, and one- or multi-dimensional string matching.

Galil worked with other computer scientists to develop several currently-fastest graph algorithms. Examples include: maximum weighted matching;[31] trivalent graph isomorphism;[32] and minimum weight spanning trees.[33]

With his students, Galil devised a technique he called "sparsification"[34] and a method he called "sparse dynamic programming".[35] The first was used to speed up dynamic graph algorithms. The second was used to speed up the computations of various edit distances between strings.

In 1979, together with Ofer Gabber, Galil solved the previously open problem of constructing a family of expander graphs with an explicit expansion ratio,[36] useful in the design of fast graph algorithms.

Awards and honors[edit]

In 1995, Galil was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery for "fundamental contributions to the design and analysis of algorithms and outstanding service to the theoretical computer science community,"[37] and in 2004, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for "contributions to the design and analysis of algorithms and for leadership in computer science and engineering."[38][39] In 2005, he was selected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[40] In 2008, Columbia University established the Zvi Galil award for student life.[41] In 2009, the Columbia Society of Graduates awarded him the Great Teacher Award.[42] In 2012, The University of Waterloo awarded Galil with an honorary Doctor of Mathematics degree for his "fundamental contributions in the areas of graph algorithms and string matching."[43] In 2020, Academic Influence included Galil in the list of the 10 most influential computer scientists of the last decade, and the advisory board of the College of Computing at Georgia Tech raised over $2 million from over 130 donors to establish an endowed chair named after Galil.[44][45]


  1. ^ a b c Zvi Galil at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ a b c d Eppstein, David; Italiano, Giuseppe F. (March 1999). "PREFACE: Festschrift for Zvi Galil". Journal of Complexity. 15 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1006/jcom.1998.0492.
  3. ^ a b "Institute names next College of Computing Dean" (Press release). Georgia Institute of Technology. 2010-04-09. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
  4. ^ "Introduction to Stringology". The Prague Stringology Club. Czech Technical University in Prague. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  5. ^ Zvi, Galil; David Eppstein; Giuseppe F. Italiano; Amnon Nissenzweig (September 1997). "Sparsification - a technique for speeding up dynamic graph algorithms". Journal of the ACM. 44 (5): 669–696. doi:10.1145/265910.265914. S2CID 340999.
  6. ^ "Zvi Galil". The DBLP Computer Science Bibliography. Digital Bibliography & Library Project. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  7. ^ "ISI Highly Cited Researchers Version 1.1: Zvi Galil". ISI Web of Knowledge. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  8. ^ a b "Zvi Galil Named Dean of Columbia's Engineering School" (Press release). Columbia University. July 14, 1995. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  9. ^ McCaughey, Robert (2014). A Lever Long Enough: A History of Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science since 1864. Columbia University Press. p. 240. ISBN 9780231166881.
  10. ^ Arenson, Karen W. (1997-10-01). "Chinese Tycoon Gives Columbia $26 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
  11. ^ "Computer expert nominated for TAU presidency". The Jerusalem Post. November 5, 2006.
  12. ^ Basch_Interactive (1980-01-01). "Presidents of Tel Aviv University | Tel Aviv University | Tel Aviv University". English.tau.ac.il. Retrieved 2020-02-18.
  13. ^ Ilani, Ofri; Kashti, Or (2009-07-02). "Tel Aviv University president quits / Sources: Galil was forced out of office". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  14. ^ a b Lewin, Tamar (2013-08-18). "Master's Degree Is New Frontier of Study Online". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-01-02.
  15. ^ Galil, Zvi. "OMSCS: The Revolution Will Be Digitized". cacm.acm.org. Retrieved 2020-07-27.
  16. ^ Varadarajan, Tunku (2021-04-02). "Opinion | The Man Who Made Online College Work". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2021-11-01.
  17. ^ Nietzel, Michael T. "Georgia Tech's Online MS In Computer Science Continues To Thrive. Why That's Important For The Future of MOOCs". Forbes. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  18. ^ "Analysis shows Georgia Tech's online master's in computer science expanded access | Inside Higher Ed". www.insidehighered.com. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  19. ^ "What Georgia Tech's Online Degree in Computer Science Means for Low-Cost Programs". www.chronicle.com. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 2022-03-25.
  20. ^ Busteed, Brandon. "The Greatest Degree Program Ever". Forbes. Retrieved 2023-11-17.
  21. ^ "College's Skyrocketing Stature, Global Impact Highlight Galil's Legacy". Georgia Tech College of Computing. April 16, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  22. ^ "Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine, Vol. 95 No. 3, Fall 2019". Issuu. 11 October 2019. Retrieved 2020-04-21.
  23. ^ "New York Area Theory Day". www.cs.columbia.edu. Retrieved 2020-06-03.
  24. ^ "Front matter". ACM SIGACT News. 19 (1). Fall 1987.
  25. ^ Galil, Zvi (1981-01-01). "String Matching in Real Time". Journal of the ACM. 28 (1): 134–149. doi:10.1145/322234.322244. ISSN 0004-5411. S2CID 9164969.
  26. ^ Galil, Zvi (1978-04-01). "Palindrome recognition in real time by a multitape turing machine". Journal of Computer and System Sciences. 16 (2): 140–157. doi:10.1016/0022-0000(78)90042-9. ISSN 0022-0000.
  27. ^ Galil, Zvi; Seiferas, Joel (1983-06-01). "Time-space-optimal string matching". Journal of Computer and System Sciences. 26 (3): 280–294. doi:10.1016/0022-0000(83)90002-8. hdl:1802/10578. ISSN 0022-0000.
  28. ^ Breslauer, Dany; Galil, Zvi (1990-12-01). "An Optimal $O(\log\log n)$ Time Parallel String Matching Algorithm". SIAM Journal on Computing. 19 (6): 1051–1058. doi:10.1137/0219072. ISSN 0097-5397.
  29. ^ Breslauer, Dany; Galil, Zvi (1992-10-01). "A Lower Bound for Parallel String Matching". SIAM Journal on Computing. 21 (5): 856–862. doi:10.1137/0221050. ISSN 0097-5397.
  30. ^ Crochemore, Maxime; Galil, Zvi; Gasieniec, Leszek; Park, Kunsoo; Rytter, Wojciech (1997-08-01). "Constant-Time Randomized Parallel String Matching". SIAM Journal on Computing. 26 (4): 950–960. doi:10.1137/S009753979528007X. ISSN 0097-5397.
  31. ^ Galil, Zvi; Micali, Silvio; Gabow, Harold (1986-02-01). "An $O(EV\log V)$ Algorithm for Finding a Maximal Weighted Matching in General Graphs". SIAM Journal on Computing. 15 (1): 120–130. doi:10.1137/0215009. ISSN 0097-5397. S2CID 12854446.
  32. ^ Galil, Zvi; Hoffmann, Christoph M.; Luks, Eugene M.; Schnorr, Claus P.; Weber, Andreas (1987-07-01). "An O(n3log n) deterministic and an O(n3) Las Vegs isomorphism test for trivalent graphs". Journal of the ACM. 34 (3): 513–531. doi:10.1145/28869.28870. ISSN 0004-5411. S2CID 18031646.
  33. ^ Gabow, Harold N.; Galil, Zvi; Spencer, Thomas; Tarjan, Robert E. (1986-06-01). "Efficient algorithms for finding minimum spanning trees in undirected and directed graphs". Combinatorica. 6 (2): 109–122. doi:10.1007/BF02579168. ISSN 1439-6912. S2CID 35618095.
  34. ^ Eppstein, David; Galil, Zvi; Italiano, Giuseppe F.; Nissenzweig, Amnon (1997-09-01). "Sparsification—a technique for speeding up dynamic graph algorithms". Journal of the ACM. 44 (5): 669–696. doi:10.1145/265910.265914. ISSN 0004-5411. S2CID 340999.
  35. ^ Eppstein, David; Galil, Zvi; Giancarlo, Raffaele; Italiano, Giuseppe F. (1992-07-01). "Sparse dynamic programming I: linear cost functions". Journal of the ACM. 39 (3): 519–545. doi:10.1145/146637.146650. ISSN 0004-5411. S2CID 17060840.
  36. ^ Gabber, Ofer; Galil, Zvi (1981-06-01). "Explicit constructions of linear-sized superconcentrators". Journal of Computer and System Sciences. 22 (3): 407–420. doi:10.1016/0022-0000(81)90040-4. ISSN 0022-0000.
  37. ^ ACM Fellow Award / Zvi Galil
  38. ^ "Dr. Zvi Galil". NAE Members. National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  39. ^ "Zvi Galil Elected to National Academy of Engineering". Columbia News. Columbia University. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  40. ^ Academy Elects 225th Class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members, American Association for the Advancement of Science, April 26, 2005
  41. ^ "Zvi Galil Award". Columbia College. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  42. ^ "Quigley, Galil To Receive Great Teacher Awards". Columbia College Today. September 2009. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  43. ^ Smyth, Pamela. "University of Waterloo to award eight honorary degrees at spring convocation". Waterloo Communications. University of Waterloo. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  44. ^ Larson, Erik J.; PhD (19 March 2020). "Top Influential Computer Scientists Today". academicinfluence.com. Retrieved 2021-05-05.
  45. ^ "New Endowed Chair Honors Inclusion and Diversity". College of Computing. 2021-06-02. Retrieved 2021-06-09.

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