Foster & Kesselman Awarded Lovelace Medal for Grid Leadership

11.06.02 -- "My friend and colleague Andrew Chien ribbed me when I first gave a talk on the 'Globus Project' back in 1995," says Ian Foster. "He asked me if the name 'Globus' weren't a bit too grandiose! I told him we needed a name in a hurry, so that's what we chose. But even back then, we were thinking about what was required to create a global community."

Global, indeed. Apparently so much so, that the pioneering work of Foster and colleague Carl Kesselman has been honored recently with the 2002 Lovelace Medal awarded by the British Computer Society (BCS).

This medal, an annual award established in 1998, recognizes "individuals who have made a contribution of major significance in the advancement of information systems or that adds significantly to the understanding of information systems." The medal honors the memory of Lady Ada Lovelace, a mathematician and scientist who worked with computer pioneer Charles Babbage and who was credited with suggesting a plan for a mechanical computer now regarded as the first computer program.

Over the last five years, Foster and Kesselman have developed the idea of and, perhaps just as significantly, gathered an influential community to implement the "Grid." ("The Anatomy of the Grid", a paper published in 2001, defines this field of study.)

In particular, as leaders of Globus, they have developed middleware that moves the Grid from concept to reality by enabling secure resource sharing between individuals and institutions. Globus consists of core technologies that support resource discovery, scheduling, configuration, security, data access, and execution in high-performance networked environments.

In making the award, the BCS cited Foster's and Kesselman's "vision and single-minded pursuit of a new Grid infrastructure to support dynamic and heterogeneous global 'virtual organisations' that distinguishes them from many of their academic colleagues in the U.S. and the U.K."

The medal citation further describes Globus as "one of the most influential projects in the area of Grid technology and is unusual in that it has attempted to create open source Grid middleware that can be used to build real working Grids."

Globus is now being used as the foundation for a dozen U.S.-funded Grid projects, including the NASA Information Power Grid, which is perhaps the best known. And, as part of Foster's and Kesselman's community building, they have helped spearhead the Global Grid Forum, which focuses, among other things, on international standardization for Grid protocols.

One reason that Foster and Kesselman caught the attention of the BCS has to do with the adoption of their Grid work by the U.K. e-Science Program and the European community through CERN and the EU DataGrid Project.

"At its core," says Kesselman, "Globus is a research project. Our research focuses not only on the issues associated with building Grid infrastructures, but also on the problems that arise in designing and developing applications that use Grid services. However, it is the coupling of this research with high-quality implementation and active collaboration with application scientists that has made Globus as influential as it's been."

Foster is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago and associate director of Argonne National Laboratory's Mathematics and Computer Science Division. Kesselman is director of the Center for Grid Technologies and a research associate professor of Computer Science at the Information Sciences Institute at the University of Southern California. Their research is supported by DOE, NSF, NASA, and DARPA.

Both are also participating researchers in a five-year, $13.5M research grant, dubbed the "OptIPuter," awarded by NSF in September and led by PI and Calit² director Larry Smarr.

"I've worked with Ian and Carl for many years while I was director at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications," says Smarr, "so I'm delighted to see their seminal contributions formally acknowledged by the prestigious Lovelace Medal. I'm even more delighted that they're partners with us on OptIPuter in Calit² to apply their Grid technologies in the highest-performance networked environment."

Hardly strangers to awards, Foster and Kesselman this year also won the R&D 100 "Most Promising New Technology" Award for the Globus ToolkitTM 2.0, which is the Globus software for Grid computing. R&D, the magazine of research and development, since 1963, has recognized technologically significant innovations that have had a profound effect on society. Prior winners, according to the magazine's Web site, include the developers of Polacolor film (1963), the automated teller machine (1973), the halogen lamp (1974), the fax machine (1975), the liquid crystal display (1980), antismoking nicotine patch (1992), Taxol anticancer drugs (1993), and HDTV (1998).

Calit² is proud to underscore the influence of the Globus Project and Foster and Kesselman's leadership in the Grid by co-sponsoring the Globus World Meeting coming to San Diego January 11-13, 2003.

Carl Kesselman
Carl Kesselman,
Director, Center for Grid Technologies
and Research Associate Professor of Computer Science, Information Sciences Institute, University of Southern California

Ian Foster

Ian Foster,
Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Chicago Associate and Director, Argonne National Laboratory's Mathematics and Computer Science Division