Nov. 7, 2002
Vol. 22 No. 4

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    British Computer Society to present medal to Foster

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    [Ian Foster]
    Ian Foster

    Ian Foster, Professor in Computer Science and Associate Director of Argonne National Laboratory’s Mathematics and Computer Science Division, will receive the 2002 Lovelace Medal. Next May, the British Computer Society will present the medal to Foster, along with Carl Kesselman of the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, for their work with the Globus Project and grid computing.

    The Globus Project is a research and software development project led by Foster and Kesselman. The project provides the research advances and open source software required to make grid computing successful in science, engineering, business and other collaborative situations. Grid computing is the high-speed networking equivalent to the electric power grid, providing computer power on demand, much the way a power grid provides electricity.

    R&D magazine recently named the Globus Toolkit, which was developed by the Globus Project, the “most promising new technology” developed this year. This software system provides essential components used in hundreds of scientific and commercial grid computing projects worldwide.

    Foster and Kesselman also co-edited The Grid: Blueprint for a New Computing Infrastructure, published in 1999. The book helped lay the groundwork for the field of grid computing, building the community and framing subsequent discussion and research.

    The Monday, Sept. 16 Internet edition of Newsweek called Foster and Kesselman “two of the founding fathers of the grid,” while the October issue of Red Herring magazine referred to Foster as “the gridfather.”

    Foster’s Distributed Systems Laboratory, which operates at both the University and Argonne, employs 40 staff members and students. Among its projects are GriPhyN, the Grid Physics Network, and iVDGL, the international Virtual Data Grid Laboratory, which are both funded by the National Science Foundation; and the Earth System Grid and Particle Physics Data Grid projects, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

    An $11.9 million project, GriPhyN involves more than a dozen institutions annually and is pioneering a concept called virtual data, in which the entire resources of a scientific collaboration become a single vast computing and storage system. The project initially will benefit four physics and astronomy experiments that are exploring the fundamental forces of nature and the structure of the universe. The $15 million iVDGL will provide some of the physical infrastructure to support the GriPhyN experiments, forming the world’s first true global grid.

    The Lovelace Medal is presented to individuals who have made contributions of major significance in the advancement of information systems or who have added significantly to the understanding of the development of information systems. Previous recipients of the medal include Doug Engelbart, developer of the computer mouse and computer windows; and Linus Torvalds, developer of the Linux operating system.

    Established in 1997, the medal was named after Ada Byron, Lady Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Lovelace, who was educated as a mathematician and scientist, collaborated with Charles Babbage on the development of mechanical computers during the first half of the 19th century. She suggested to Babbage a plan for a mechanical computer that now is regarded as the first computer program.