Former faculty member John Gustafson winner of Atanasoff Award

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The person honored with the 2011 John V. Atanasoff Research and Discovery Award in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is no stranger to Iowa State.

John L. Gustafson is a former faculty member at ISU and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory. He founded the Scalable Computing Laboratory at ISU in 1989. The mission of the laboratory is to improve parallel computing through clustering techniques for use in scientific and engineering computation.

Now Gustafson is the director of Intel Corp.’s Extreme Technology Research laboratory. Intel develops advanced integrated digital technology products for computing and communications industries. He resides in Santa Clara, Calif., and has an M.S. (1981) and a Ph.D. (1982) in mathematics from Iowa State.

The Atanasoff Award was established in 2005 to honor alumni of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences who have furthered scientific knowledge of the nation and the world, either through laboratory accomplishments or management.

Gustafson is known for his work in high performance computing, having introduced the first commercial cluster system in 1985, and for first demonstrating 1000x scalable parallel performance on real applications in 1988, for which he won the inaugural Gordon Bell Award. He invented Gustafson’s Law, which states that problems with large, repetitive data sets can be efficiently parallelized.

Gustafson’s Law has become a standard part of the parallel-processing academic curriculum. His parallel processing innovations have netted him three R&D 100 awards and two Inventor of the Year awards. Gustafson also received the Golden Core Award in 2007 from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s leading membership organization for computing professionals.

In the 1990s Gustafson was the leader of the team at Iowa State that completed the reconstruction of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer, which is housed at the Computer History Museum in California.

Gustafson is a member of ISU’s Computer Science External Advisory Board.