Jack Dennis

Jack Dennis
Associated organizations
Fields of study
IEEE/ACM Eckhert-Mauchly Award, IEEE John von Neumann Medal


Jack D. Dennis’ early development and continued exploration of parallel computing architectures have yielded principles for creating systems with increased interactivity and sharing ability and have important implications for today’s multicore processors. With over 50 years of research, Dr. Dennis was one of the earliest advocates of addressing computer architectures and programming together for parallel computing. Parallelism involves performance of many calculations simultaneously using two or more processors to cooperatively solve a problem and has become an essential aspect of high-performance computing. Dr. Dennis developed principles for executing programs securely in parallel environments, introducing the concepts of capability, protected domains, object lists, and protected call and return. Dr. Dennis’ dataflow concept remains a promising approach for future computer system architecture. In dataflow computation, individual instructions or groups of instructions known as codelets can be executed as soon as data become available. The dataflow graph models and execution algorithms developed by Dr. Dennis and his group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from the late 1960s through the 1980s inspired universities and research groups around the world to undertake dataflow projects. Dr. Dennis developed the VAL language for parallel computation, which evolved into the SISAL programming language. His work has influenced several generations of computer architects and compiler writers and is currently shaping new approaches to the architecture and programming of massively parallel computer systems.

An IEEE Fellow, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellow, and a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Dr. Dennis’ awards include the IEEE John von Neumann Medal (2013) "For fundamental abstractions to implement protection in operating systems and for the dataflow programming paradigm", the IEEE/ACM Eckhert-Mauchly Award (1984) and induction to the SOSP Hall of Fame. Dr. Dennis is Professor Emeritus with MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Cambridge, MA, USA.