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Press Release 96-047

Juris Hartmanis to Lead NSF's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering

September 5, 1996

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Juris Hartmanis, an expert in the theory of computation and computational complexity, has been appointed Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation Directorate of Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). Hartmanis will lead the directorate which has responsibility for NSF's efforts with the Internet, supercomputers, robotics and intelligent systems, information processing systems and computational research.

"We are thrilled to have someone with the perspective and expertise of Dr. Hartmanis," said NSF Director Neal Lane. "He will be an exciting leader of the directorate at a time when computers are affecting nearly every aspect of American life and changing every field of science and engineering."

Since 1965, Hartmanis has been with Cornell University, where he helped create the computer science department and served as its first chair. Prior to that he helped bring computer science research to General Electric Research Laboratory. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and in 1993 received the Turing Award, the highest award in computer science.

"It's been a magnificent ride, like sitting in a cockpit and observing a brand new science being created. I am delighted and surprised at what impact computer science is having," Hartmanis said. "When I decided to be a computer scientist, I couldn't imagine the dramatic impact it has had."

Hartmanis was born in Latvia and emigrated to Germany after World War II. He observed a world in disarray, with not only physical ruins but also social chaos.

"Everything was in ruins, except that science was still functioning," Hartmanis said. "At that time I was going to be a scientist. It was one of those untouched beautiful things that existed in the ruins."

He received his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Marburg, then came to the United States to receive a master's from University of Kansas City and a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology, both in mathematics. Hartmanis then taught at Cornell and Ohio State University before being "lured away" by GE, he said.

Hartmanis sees the exponential growth in computing power coupled with the growth in communications capabilities as one of the most exciting aspects of computer science today.

After receiving NSF support for some 30 years, Hartmanis feels it is time to serve. In 1992, he chaired a National Research Council Study which resulted in the book "Computing the Future: A Broader Agenda for Computer Science and Engineering." The two years' work with the committee, he said, helped focus his interest on computer science policy.

NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote and advance scientific progress in the United States. The CISE directorate awards more than $275 million annually.


Media Contacts
Beth Gaston, NSF, (703) 292-8070,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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