Ian T. Foster (born 1959) is an American computer scientist and Director of the Computation Institute in Chicago. He is also a Distinguished Fellow and Senior Scientist in the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory, and a Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago.
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In 2006, he was appointed director of the Computation Institute, a joint project between the University of Chicago, and Argonne. There, Foster brings together computational scientists and discipline thought leaders to work on a wide range of projects with computation as a key component. CI research efforts include the Center for Robust Decision Making on Climate and Energy Policy, which combines the best of modern computational and economic science to guide climate and energy policy, and the Urban Center for Computation and Data, which seeks to optimize the operation of cities and anticipate the impact of their growth using computational methods and tools.
Foster's honors include the Lovelace Medal of the British Computer Society, the Gordon Bell Prize for high-performance computing (2001), IEEE Tsutomu Kanai Award (2011), as well as others. He was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2003, and in 2009, a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, who named him the inaugural recipient of the High-Performance Parallel and Distributed Computing (HPDC) Achievement Award in 2012
Foster's research focuses on the acceleration of discovery in a networked world. With Carl Kesselman and Steve Tuecke, Foster invented grid computing, the de facto computation standard for data-intensive, multi-institution collaboration that paved the way for cloud computing. Methods and software developed under his leadership underpin many large national and international cyberinfrastructures and have advanced discovery in such areas as high energy physics, environmental science, and biomedicine. Grid computing was credited by CERN director Rolf-Dieter Heuer as one of the elements essential for the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson.
His research has also resulted in the development of techniques, tools and algorithms for high-performance distributed computing and parallel computing. His Globus Project encourages collaborative computing by providing advances necessary for engineering, business and other fields. His most recent effort, Globus Online, is a cloud-based service that transforms how researchers manage, share and analyze big data. In 2004, Foster co-founded Univa Corporation to bring advances in grid and distributed computing to commercial applications.