Alumnus scoops award as he launches start-up

  • October 21, 2011
Alumnus scoops award as he launches start-up

Daniel Greenfield wins a Computer Science award for his thesis.

A Gates alumnus and entrepreneur has won a prestigious Computer Science award for his thesis which overturns previous assumptions about the discipline and helps to create a foundation for better software and hardware in the future.

Daniel Greenfield [2005] was awarded the 2011 Conference of Professors and Heads of Computing Distinguished Dissertation competition. The prize comes just as his hi-tech start-up company Fonleap is about to go live and release its first product. It is awarded on the basis that each university in the UK submits up to three of their top PhD dissertations in Computer Science and a winner and runner up is then chosen by a panel of experts.

Daniel says the award recognises his work challenging long held assumptions and models in Computer Science that every computer-science undergraduate learns in their first year.

His dissertation tries to build a new framework suitable for the future.

He says: “Computer Scientists measure how costly and complex software is according to how many raw calculations are needed to perform a given task. But now thanks to decades of shrinking transistors but poorly scaling wires, this is no longer the case, and cost is now dominated not by raw calculations but by how much data is shuffled around – and how far that data needs to move – a radical rethink with profound implications for software now and in the future. My thesis tries to create a new foundation for characterising, modelling and exploiting the communication properties of software and should hopefully help Computer Scientists in building better software and hardware for this exciting new era of computing.”

The award will officially be given at a ceremony at the Royal Society on the evening of 1 November as part of the BCS Roger Needham Lecture.

Before doing his PhD Daniel spent many years designing innovative GPUs, media processors and network processors in Silicon Valley. He obtained his previous degrees from the University of New South Wales, where his Masters developed new algorithms in systems biology. He has won multiple competitions in software, and has represented Australia internationally. 

Picture credit: jscreationzs and www.freedigitalphotos.net

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