Dr. Sun, Xian-He


Dr. Xian-He Sun

is a distinguished professor of Computer Science and the past Chairman (9/2009-8/2014) of the Department of Computer Science at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He received his BS in Mathematics in 1982 from Beijing Normal University, P.R. China, and completed his MS in Mathematics, MS in Computer Science, and Ph.D. in Computer Science in 1985, 1987, and 1990, respectively, all from Michigan State University. He was a post-doctoral researcher at Ames National Laboratory, a staff scientist at ICASE, NASA Langley Research Center, an ASEE fellow at the US Navy Research Laboratories, and was an associate professor and the founding director of the Scalable Computing Software laboratory in the Department of Computer Science at Louisiana State University - Baton Rouge before he joined the Computer Science Department at IIT in August 1999. Currently, he is a distinguished professor of computer science at IIT, an IEEE fellow, a guest faculty in the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, and the director of the Scalable Computing Software Laboratory at IIT. His current research interests include parallel and distributed processing, memory and I/O systems, software systems for Big Data applications, and performance evaluation and optimization.

Dr. Sun has published over two hundred and fifty research articles in the field of computer science and communication and has five patents in US and one patent in China. His research is well supported by NSF (NSF-JEAP, ACS-9720215, CCR-9972251, EIA-0130673, ANI-0123930, ACI-0130458, EIA-0224377, ACI-0305355, CNS-0406328, SCI-0504291,CNS-0509118, CCF-0621435, CCF-0702737, CNS-0751200, CNS-0834514, CCF-0937877, CNS-1162540, CNS-1338078, CNS-1526887, CCF-1536079, CCF-1744317, CNS-1730689, CNS-1730488) and other US government agencies. Since he joined IIT in 1999, he has served as a PI or Co-PI for more than twenty federally funded research projects with a total of more than twenty million dollars. His research in mobility of legacy code is one of the first nine projects supported by the National Science Foundation under the Middleware Initiative program. His PDD and PPT algorithms have been included in IBM's Parallel Engineering and Scientific Software Library (PESSL) and other commercial and research software packages as a community standard. His memory-bounded (also called Sun-Ni's law) and memory access delay performance models are introduced in many modern textbooks and are considered critical in the performance evaluation of scalable computing systems. Chicago Sun-Times called his work in cross-network service as turning "POTS (plain Old Telephone service) into PANS (Pretty Amazing New Stuff), moving (landline) phone into the internet loop" (May 12, 2003). An IETF Internet standard (RFC3910) was officially released in 2004 based on his novel concept of cross-network service. His recent work, Concurrent Average Memory Access Time (Concurrent-AMAT, C-AMAT, 2013), uniquely unifies the performance impact of memory locality, memory concurrency, and the overlapping of computing and data access delay, and provides a practical tool for performance measurement, analysis, and optimization of memory systems. Both the memory-bounded model and the C-AMAT model are considered by many as an essential tool for solving current big data problems. Most recently, he proposed the Layered Performance Matching (LPM) method and the (Sluice-Gate) Pace Data Transfer architecture for mitigating and removing the memory-wall problem in 2015 and 2016, respectively. While powering big data becomes a national initiative, his research has received recent renewed attention. He was featured in Crain as People on the Move in March, 2014 and his C-AMAT work was featured in ACM TechNews in March, 2014, and in HPC Magazine in May, 2014.

Dr. Sun’s current research includes the development of Application-Aware I/O systems for Big Data applications, the development of data-centric system software for high-end computing, and the integration of HPC and Cloud Computing. His research is both application and technology driven. For the former, he and his research group have developed a series of software systems for high-end computing. These include the software packages of PortHadoop: an extension of Hadoop to support direct HPC data processing under Hadoop environments; IOSIG: I/O Signatures Based Data Access Optimization, PFS-IOC: Server-side I/O-Coordination in Parallel File System; GHS: Grid Harvest Service; Network Bandwidth Predictor (NBP); and HPCM: High Performance Computing Mobility; etc. For the latter, he and his collaborators have made several noticeable contributions in recognizing and modeling the influence of the advancements of hardware and network technology on computing systems. These include the introduction of the memory-bounded speedup model (1990), which is the first work to reveal that memory is the performance constraint for high-end computing and presents a quantitative mathematical formulation for the trade-off between memory and computing, the algorithm-machine combination scalability, the general speedup metric, a model for non-dedicated network computing, and an extended Amdahl’s law for multicore systems, etc. More recently, he and his associates have introduced the Concurrent Average Memory Access Time (C-AMAT) model and the memory Access Per memory active Cycle (APC) metric for modern memory systems in 2013 and 2011, respectively. These results are vital tools to understand and evaluate modern memory systems and to utilize computer architecture and software for data-intensive applications. His recent Pace Data Transfer architecture (backed by the Sluice Gate Theory) has reduced memory stall time 150 times, and suggests a rethinking of memory system design. His group received the ACM/IEEE HPC award and the NSF V-Tech HEC Challenge award in 2008, 2007 and 2006 for its contributions in data access optimization and fault-tolerant computing, respectively. Dr. Sun is an IEEE Fellow for his Contributions to Memory-Bounded Performance Metrics and Scalable Parallel Computing.

Dr. Sun is an IEEE Fellow, a senior member of ACM, and a member of the honor societies PHI KAPPA PHI and SIGMA XI. He was a distinguished speaker of IEEE CS society from 2001 to 2003, a vice chair of the IEEE Technical Committee on Scalable Computing from 2012 to 2013, and a member of the IEEE fellow evaluation committee in 2013, 2014, and 2015. He has been an editor of eight international professional journals, including the flagship journals in parallel and distributed processing: IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems and Journal of Parallel and Distributed Computing. He has served and is serving as the chairman or a member of the program committee for numerous international conferences and workshops, and served or is serving on several boards and committees of government agencies and private foundations for research activities. These include serving as the General Chair of The 30th IEEE/ACM International Parallel and Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS2016), and a general co-chair for the 14th IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Cluster, Cloud and Grid Computing (CCGrid2014). He received the IEEE ISPA best paper award in 2016, the ACM SIGSIM best paper award in 2015, the Best Paper Award at IEEE ISPA in 2011, the SIGMA XI/IIT senior research award in 2009, the Best Paper finalist at the IEEE/ACM SuperComputing Conference in 2008, the IIT Dean's Excellence Award for Research in 2006, the Best Poster Award at IEEE/ACM SC Conference in 2003, the Best Paper Award at ICPP in 2001, and the ONR and ASEE Certificate of Recognition award in 1999. He received the IEEE CS 2016 Golden Core Award in 2017, the IEEE Computer Soeiety Meritorious Service Certificate in 2016, and the ACM SIG Governing Board Service Award in 2014, in addition to several other service awards which he has received over the years.

Dr. Sun has trained many students that have since taken positions in academia, industry, and national laboratories. Several of them have won prestigious awards, including NSF and DOE Career awards, and industrial Innovation award. The national and international awards his students received during their school years include CRA Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher Award, ACM Student Researcher Competition Award, ACM/IEEE George Michael Fellow Award, ACM Best Ph.D. Colloquium Award, etc.

Dr. Sun was a Tan Chin Tuan Fellow at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and a US partner of the European Commission APART Working Group. He is a member of the Overseas Expert Advisory Committee for the State Council Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, an overseas expert for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, an overseas member of the 8th Congress of China Association for Science and Technology, a board director of the Chinese-American Association of Greater Chicago (CAAGC), and a former president of the Society of Chinese-American Professors and Scientists.

Dr. Xian-He Sun was the Chairman of the Department of Computer Science at IIT from fall 2009 to summer 2014. During the five years under his leadership, the external research funding of the department has increased from $1,426,086 in FY 2009 to $3,582,978 in FY 2013; the CS student body has increased from 601 in fall 2009 to 809 in fall 2014; and the total CS enrollment in terms of credit hours has increased from 4,467 in fall 2009 to 6,925 in fall 2014. Three of the five assistant professors recruited during his tenure have since received NSF Career award or the prestigious Air Force YIP award. Three faculties have been elevated by IEEE to become IEEE fellow. The USNews ranking of the department has increased from not ranked (meaning behind 125) to 101 in 2014, and expected to be moved up even further in the upcoming evaluation. These achievements are achieved step by step. These steps include: 1) Conducted a self-study to evaluate the CS education and research programs in 2010, seven new programs, including new co-terminal degrees and specializations, were introduced during the 2010-2011 academic year; 2) Established the high-profile CS advisory board, including the CTO of CIA, the CIO of Boeing and several NAE members and venture capitalists, and hosted board meetings each semester since the inaugural board meeting in spring 2011; 3) Established the continuing annual CS reunion program in 2011 to reconnect the department with CS alumni; 4) Established the signature Data Science Master program with the Applied Mathematics Department and admitted the first group of students in Fall 2013; 5) Established the Tsao family CS scholarship in 2014 to provide competitive financial support for CS students. Dr. Sun is most proud of the newly established outreach programs of the department and of the school: the establishment of the yearly Girl Summer Computing Camp for Chicagoland minority girls to promote computer science to female African-American high school students in 2010; and the establishment of the IIT-CAAGC leadership award for Chicagoland high school students to promote community service for Asian-American high school students in 2011.


Illinois Institute of Technology