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Daphne Siefert-Herron
Manager of Strategic Initiatives, Pervasive Technology Institute at Indiana University

Last modified: Monday, November 2, 2009

Sterling to be inaugural speaker for Peebles Lectures in IT


November 2, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Dr. Thomas Sterling, renowned professor of computer science at Louisiana State University, will present the inaugural lecture in Indiana University's Peebles Lectures in Information Technology series. All interested parties are invited to attend.

Thomas Sterling

Thomas Sterling

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Sterling is best known as the father of the Beowulf cluster and for his work on petascale computing. His development of Beowulf clusters—making supercomputing clusters out of groups of Linux servers—created and popularized the technology that underlies the large majority of the world's fastest supercomputers.

"Having Dr. Sterling as the inaugural speaker for the Peebles lecture series is the perfect kick-off for this series and will provide the IU community with a great opportunity to hear an internationally known leader in computer science," said Professor of Computer Science Andrew Lumsdaine. "His work in parallel computing isn't just at the cutting edge, it defines the cutting edge."

What: "HPC in Phase Change: Towards a New Parallel Execution Model"

When: Tuesday, November 10, 2009; reception begins at 3pm; talk begins at 4pm

Where: Innovation Center, room 105, 2719 E 10th Street, Bloomington

Shuttle service will be provided from Lindley Hall and Informatics. Live and archive streaming of the talk will be available from

Sterling's current research focuses on ParalleX, which strives to provide a new model of parallel computing that will revolutionize high performance computing, science, and informatics applications. Sterling received his Ph.D. as a Hertz Fellow from MIT in 1984. He has co-authored six books, and holds six patents. In 1997, Sterling was part of a team awarded the Gordon Bell Prize, which recognizes outstanding achievement in high-performance computing applications.

The Peebles Lectures in Information Technology series sponsors one lecture per academic year in areas of information technology relevant to research, teaching, or creative activity in academe. Speakers are chosen by virtue of a mix of distinction in academic endeavors in information technology, innovation in its application, and iconoclastic views.

The series commemorates decades of service given to Indiana University by Dr. Christopher S. Peebles, former associate vice president for research and academic computing and dean for information technology. When Peebles stepped down as associate vice president in 2003, then-Vice President for Information Technology Michael McRobbie established an endowment through the IU Foundation to fund a lecture series in his honor. The series is expected to bring some of the sharpest minds in information technology to Indiana University.

"This lecture series honors a scholar of the first rate and a gentleman of the finest caliber. Chris's leadership in information technology helped create the foundations for today's success," said longtime colleague Dr. Craig Stewart. "Chris is a distinguished scholar in multiple disciplines, an inveterate reader, and a person whom I have worked for and learned from over the course of many years at IU. Dr. Sterling similarly personifies the ideals of meaningful scholarship and accomplishment in many disciplines, including information technology, engineering, and computer science. We are honored to have him as our first invited lecturer."

Sterling's visit is co-hosted by Lumsdaine and Stewart. Lumsdaine is a division chair in the School of Informatics and Computer Science and heads the Open Systems Lab, part of the School of Informatics and Pervasive Technology Institute. Stewart is executive director of the Pervasive Technology Institute and associate dean for Research Technologies (occupying a position once held by Peebles).

Peebles came to Indiana University in 1985 as director of the Glenn A. Black Laboratory. His career at Indiana University uniquely encompassed both anthropology and information technology. His interest in formal organizations and their cultures' effect on quality of corporate performance led to a key role in bringing vital cost and quality management programs to Indiana University's central information technology organization. Dr. Peebles served twice as interim chief information officer at Indiana University. Dr. Peebles has published and made important contributions in several distinct fields: anthropology, information science, quality management, and information technology, and was active in the Indiana University community and faculty governance. Peebles retired from IU in 2009.

The Peebles Lecture series is a joint effort of the IU Office of the Vice President for Information Technology and CIO, Pervasive Technology Institute, and University Information Technology Services.