David Liu, Kauffmann Award winner

David Liu, Kauffmann Award winner
by Paul McLellan on 11-22-2011 at 6:16 pm

 David Liu receeived the Kaufman award for 2001 at the Kaufman award dinner a few weeks ago.

Or to be more formal about it:Dr. C. L. David Liu, the William Mong honorary chair professor of Computer Science and former president of the National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu, Taiwan, will be presented with this year’s Phil Kaufman Award for Distinguished Contributions to Electronic Design Automation (EDA). Dr. C. L. David Liu, the William Mong honorary chair professor of Computer Science and former president of the National Tsing Hua University in Hsinchu, Taiwan, will be presented with this year’s Phil Kaufman Award for Distinguished Contributions to Electronic Design Automation (EDA).

Dr Liu started his career in Taiwan before coming to the US for an extended period and then returning to Taiwan where he continues to be very active in both academic circles and with his own radio program (unfortunately only in Chinese). As he says, he’s a 70 year old guy living the life of two 35 year olds. Reminds me of that line when Mac is told he can’t have a 42-year old scotch that night. “Give me 4 8-years olds and a 10-year old”.

Jason Cong presented the award. David was Jason’s PhD advisor. And not just Jason’s, a long list of people who have gone on to make significant contributions to EDA. One name I recognized and hadn’t known about was Anmol Mathur, who worked for me at Ambit over a decade ago and has since founded Calypto where he continues to be the CTO.

If there is one thing that characterizes David’s contributions to EDA, I think it is giving heuristic algorithms rigorous foundation, or coming up with rigorous algorithms from scratch. He made major contributions in slicing floorplans, over-the-well channel routing, performance driven placement, scheduled resource sharing, optimal clock period FPGA technology mapping and rate monotonic scheduling. These are not just algorithms of historical significance, they are used inside moder EDA tools. Ajoy Bose, CEO of Atrenta, gave credit for using some of his work in SpyGlass physical. Chi-Foon Chan, COO of Synopsys gave credit for his ideas directly benefiting Astro and IC compiler. And his scheduling algorithms are used in today’s cell-phones.

In 1968 David Liu wrote “Introduction to combinatorial mathematics.” Remember this was before the concept of NP-completeness had been introduced, so very early in the development of combinatorial mathematics and complexity.

Perhaps most surprising of all is that since 2005, David Liu has done a weekly talk show covering all sorts of aspects of technology such as the founding of Google, Steve Jobs’ now famous Stanford commencement speech.

Congratulations to David Liu.