Brown CS News

Tim Kraska Wins NSF CAREER And AFOSR Young Investigator Awards


Assistant Professor Tim Kraska of Brown University's Computer Science Department has just won a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award and an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Research Award for his work on redefining analytics for small high-performance computing clusters. He joins multiple previous Brown CS winners of the CAREER award, including (most recently) Erik Sudderth, James Hayes, and Ben Raphael; and a single previous Brown CS winner of the Young Investigator Award, Chad Jenkins.

A bit of history helps situate Tim's research into analytics. "At its core," he says, "this aspect of my work began when Big Data became a hot topic. The Facebooks and Googles of the world wanted complex analytics to understand their customers better. We're talking about thousands and thousands of nodes, petabytes of data. So, what's next? The industry says: 'What Google does, we need!' But not everybody is Google. That's why I became interested in designing analytical systems for more typical users. For example, what about a company with one hundred employees instead of tens of thousands?"

Both of these awards are some of the most prestigious awarded by their respective organizations. CAREER Awards are the given in support of outstanding junior faculty teacher-scholars who excel at research, education, and integration of the two within the context of an organizational mission. Young Investigator Research Awards are given to scientists and engineers who show exceptional ability and promise in order to foster creative research, enhance early career development, and increase opportunities for young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and related challenges in science and engineering.

Despite Kraska's success with such projects as Tupleware, a parallel high-performance UDF processing system that produces efficient results by considering data, computations, and hardware together (it recently outperformed industry standards by up to three orders of magnitude), he still sees tremendous potential ahead: "It's an exciting time in systems. Data is everywhere -- we need a Department of Data Science here at Brown now!"

"I'm grateful for the support I've received from colleagues and my team," Tim says, "and very proud. It really bothers us to see people in industry using software to do something it's not designed for, and we're fixing that. We love to produce work that people can truly use."