IEEE Medal of Honor Goes to Hennessy

President of Stanford receives IEEE’s highest honor

5 March 2012

IEEE Fellow John L. Hennessy, president of Stanford University, is the recipient of the 2012 IEEE Medal of Honor “for pioneering the RISC processor architecture and for leadership in computer engineering and higher education.”

Hennessy led a team of researchers at Stanford who in 1981 developed the RISC (reduced instruction set computing) architecture, which revolutionized the computer industry by increasing performance while reducing manufacturing costs. RISC serves today as the basis for several computer platforms including the Advanced RISC Machine (ARM), found in most of today’s mobile devices.

Hennessy in 1984 helped found MIPS Computer Systems (now MIPS Technologies), a company in Sunnyvale, Calif., that manufactures microprocessors.

He joined Stanford’s electrical engineering department in 1977 as an assistant professor and became a full professor in 1986. He was named president of the university in 2000. In recent years, his research has focused on the architecture of high-performance computers.

A corecipient of the 2000 IEEE John von Neumann Medal for outstanding achievement in computer-related science and technology, he has received numerous other recognitions for his work, including the 2005 Founders Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The Medal of Honor is sponsored by the IEEE Foundation. Hennessy is scheduled to receive the award on 30 June in Boston at the annual IEEE Honors Ceremony.

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