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Daniel A. Reed (computer scientist)

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Daniel A. Reed is an American computational scientist, known for his contributions to high-performance computing and science policy. He is the director of scalable computing and multicore at Microsoft Research. He founded the Renaissance Computing Institute in 2004 and served as its director until December 2007. Reed also was Chancellor’s Eminent Professor and served as senior adviser for strategy and innovation to UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor James Moeser. He served as CIO and Vice Chancellor for Information Technology Services at UNC-Chapel Hill from January 2004 through April 2007.

He is a national leader in developing technology and science policy; he was appointed to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), by President Bush in 2006 and served on the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) from 2003–2005. As chair of PITAC’s computational science subcommittee, he was lead author of the report “Computational Science: Ensuring America’s Competitiveness.” On PCAST, he co-chairs the Networking and Information Technology subcommittee (with George Scalise of the Semiconductor Industry Association) and recently co-authored a report on the National Coordination Office’s Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program called “Leadership Under Challenge: Information Technology R&D in Competitive World.” He is also a member of PCAST’s Personalized Medicine subcommittee.

Reed has been chair of the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association (CRA) since 2005 and a member of the board since 1998. CRA represents the research interests of the university, national laboratory and industrial research laboratory communities in computing across North America.


Reed earned a B.S. from the University of Missouri, Rolla, and an M.S. and Ph.D from Purdue University, all in computer science.

Before coming to North Carolina, Reed spent 19 years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he led the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) from 2000–2003 and chaired the University of Illinois computer science department, one of the top five departments in the country, from 1996–2001. During his tenure in the CS department and at NCSA, he was instrumental in securing more than $100 million in public and private funds, which led to the development of the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science and the first permanent home for NCSA. The two buildings now anchor the university’s information technology quadrangle.

In 2001, Reed led the effort to launch the National Science Foundation’s TeraGrid, the world's largest, most comprehensive distributed cyberinfrastructure for open scientific research, and then served as TeraGrid chief architect through 2003. Through the TeraGrid, as one of the principal investigators of the NSF’s Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program, and as director of NCSA, Reed was instrumental in deploying some of the first Linux cluster supercomputers for scientific computing. These commodity-based systems are now a mainstay of high performance scientific computing.

Research Focus

Reed’s research focuses on the design of very high-speed computers, providing new computing capabilities for scholars in science, medicine, engineering and the humanities, tools and techniques for capturing and analyzing the performance of parallel systems, and collaborative virtual environments for real-time performance analysis. He led the Pablo Research Group, which investigates the interaction of architecture, system software, and applications on large-scale parallel and distributed computer systems. The group created SvPablo, a graphical environment for instrumenting application source code and browsing dynamic performance data. Key research foci of the group included exploration of performance analysis techniques and compiler-aided scalability analysis, scalable parallel file systems, and real-time adaptive systems for resource policy control.

Reed is a frequent speaker on these research topics and also speaks on the role of technology in innovation, economic development and government, and the future of computing and technology.

Professional Experience

  • Post-doctoral Research Associate, Purdue University, May 1983-August 1983
  • Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, August 1983-July 1984
  • Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, August 1984-August 1988
  • Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, August 1988-August 1991
  • Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, August 1991-2003
  • Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor, University of Illinois, 2000–2003
  • Senior Research Scientist, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, 1995–2000
  • Head, Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois, May 1996-2001
    • 2000 students, 40 faculty and 100 staff
  • Director, National Computational Science Alliance, March 2000-2003
    • 50 institution national partnership, funded by NSF
  • Director, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, September 2000-2003
    • 250 staff and $80M annual budget
  • Chief Architect, NSF Extensible Terascale Facility TeraGrid, 2001–2003
  • Chancellor’s Eminent Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004–present
  • Director, Renaissance Computing Institute, 2004–present
    • statewide research, outreach and economic development
  • Vice-Chancellor for Information Technology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2004–present
    • 600 staff and $60M annual budget

Recent Notable Accomplishments

  • 2006 RENCI launches statewide engagement effort to foster improved disaster response. Working with state agencies and universities, the initiative is creating on-demand storm surge and high-resolution weather forecasts for North Carolina.
  • 2005 The North Carolina General Assembly appropriates $5.9M in state FY06 and $11.8M in FY07 and beyond to expand the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI). This funding will enable RENCI to build a series of satellite sites across North Carolina to foster economic development, technology transfer, education, diversity and outreach.
  • 2005 The President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) and its subcommittee on computational science, which he chaired, produced a report on the future of computational science, entitled “Computational Science: Ensuring America’s Competitiveness.” Based insights from extensive hearings and comments from the national community, the report highlights the critical importance of computational science to U.S. technical and economic competitiveness and recommends major structural changes to both funding practices and university structures to capitalize on emerging multidisciplinary opportunities.
  • 2005 Academic and administrative computing structures at the UNC Chapel Hill campus are integrated, forming a reinvigorated Information Technology Services (ITS) organization whose mission is to serve the research, academic and administrative computing needs of the campus. Nearly 400 staff are reclassified and a senior management team is recruited, based on a national search. A campus-wide strategic planning exercise is launched, whose goal, based on broad participation from campus stakeholders, is to define a strategic vision and strategy for IT as enabler of the campus mission to become the number one public university in the U.S.
  • 2004 The Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) is launched to capitalize on the strengths of three world-class universities (UNC, Duke and NCSU) and the social, business and research opportunities of the Research Triangle and the State of North Carolina. The term Renaissance Computing is intended to both evoke and capture the breadth of intellectual activities such an Institute would encompass and engage – an Institute capable of enriching and empowering human potential, as well as creating intellectual communities that span the sciences and engineering, the arts, the humanities and commerce.
  • 2003 The High End Computing Revitalization Task Force (HECRTF) community input workshop is held in June. The results of this workshop, chaired by Professor Reed, will be used to shape a five year, interagency plan for high-end computing. In a related effort, Professor Reed testifies to the U.S. House Science Committee on high-end computing.
  • 2003 The National Center for Advanced Secure Systems Research (NCASSR) is created to support exploration of mobile sensing, network security, and software intrusion detection. This $5.6M cyberinfrastructure project, funded by the Office of Naval Research, is the beginning of a new cybersecurity initiative at NCSA. Dan Reed is the center director.
  • 2002 The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), in collaboration with its Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF) and other partners, is funded to expand the DTF, creating an extensible and extendible infrastructure for Grid computing. This Extensible Terascale Facility (ETF) includes two national network hubs, in Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively, where new research sites can connect to the DTF network, the world’s fastest network for scientific research. In addition, this $35M investment upgrades the NCSA facilities to create over 10 teraflops of computing capability and over 200 terabytes of scientific data storage.
  • 2001 The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) helps spearhead a proposal to create a Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF). This $53M computing Grid, which involves NCSA, Argonne, Caltech, and the San Diego Supercomputing Center, will deploy the world’s fastest research network, over 11 teraflops of computing, based on Linux clusters, and hundreds of terabytes of data storage. NCSA will anchor the computing infrastructure with a 6 teraflop Linux cluster, which together with its other clusters will form a 10 teraflop complex. IBM, Intel, and Qwest are the system integrators.
  • 2001 The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) announces plans to build a state-funded $31M facility for computing research. The building will house the majority of NCSA’s 350+ staff, who are building and deploying computing technologies in support for 21st century science and engineering.
  • 2001 The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) deploys two terascale Linux clusters. In collaboration with Intel and IBM, each of these two clusters separately is the fastest academic Linux supercomputer in the world. Together, they are in the top 10 of all supercomputers worldwide. As part of this effort, NCSA and the Alliance, led by Reed, are spearheading deployment of scalable Linux cluster software throughout the country.

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