Xian-He Sun Appointed as Ron Hochsprung Endowed Chair in Computer Science

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By Casey Moffitt

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Xian-He Sun, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science at Illinois Institute of Technology, has been newly appointed as the Ron Hochsprung Endowed Chair in Computer Science, which will help to advance his innovative research.

“Equally important, this chair is a great honor and a great pride,” Sun says. “It shows the appreciation and recognition of the university and the greater Illinois Tech community toward more than 30 years I have devoted to research, teaching, and service.”

Sun’s prolific research in parallel and high-end computing, big data processing, and software systems has been highly regarded. As director of Illinois Tech’s Scalable Computing Software Laboratory, he co-developed Sun-Ni’s law, one of three scalable computing laws along with Amdahl’s law and Gustafson’s law. He also helped to develop concurrent average memory access time (C-AMAT), a mathematical model to address the memory-wall problem.

Sun, a fellow of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a Golden Core member of IEEE Computer Society, has published more than 300 refereed journal articles, conference papers, books, book chapters, and other publications. He holds five United States patents and one Chinese patent. His research group received the Association of Computing Machinery/IEEE-CS George Michael Memorial HPC Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Virginia Tech High-End Computing Challenge award in 2006, 2007, and 2008 for their contributions to data access optimization and fault tolerance, and multiple ACM and IEEE best paper awards in recent years, including receiving the prestigious ACM Karsten Schwan Best Paper Award in 2019.

“I am very confident of the quality, novelty, and long-term impact of our research, and very confident our research is at the leading edge of computer science research,” Sun says. “This appointment will boost the image of the university and inject a new energy of faculty enthusiasm.”

Sun says the appointment also will help to promote Illinois Tech as a leader in computer science research with fellow researchers, scientists, and academics, as well bring new research opportunities to campus.

“If I meet an outstanding scientist or a potential postdoc researcher candidate at a conference, I can say, ‘Please visit us. I can pay your trip with my endorsement fund,’” Sun says. “I even can invite a small group of outstanding researchers visiting Illinois Tech together to form a small workshop with the endorsement.”

Sun joined Illinois Tech in 1999 from Louisiana State University, where he was an associate professor and the founding director of the Scalable Computing Software Laboratory. Before that, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Ames Laboratory, a staff scientist at the Institute for Computer Applications in Science and Engineering at NASA Langley Research Center, and an American Society for Engineering Education fellow at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

Ron Hochsprung (CS ’72) established the first Endowed Chair in Computer Science at Illinois Tech with a $2 million gift in 2014. He retired from Apple, Inc. as a distinguished engineer after 33 years. While there, Hochsprung worked on the Lisa and Macintosh computers from the original Motorola 68000 series through the PowerPC and Intel platforms.

Photo: Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Xian-He Sun