Kai Li is a Paul M. Wythes '55, P'86 and Marcia R. Wythes P'86 Professor at the computer science department of Princeton University. Except taking a two-year leave for a startup in 2001, he has been on the faculty at Princeton University since 1986. He received B.S. degree in computer science from Jilin University in 1977, M.S. degree in computer science from University of Science and Technology of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and PhD degree in computer science from Yale University in 1986.
Professor Li has made significant contributions in the area of computer science. In the mid 1980s, he pioneered distributed shared memory (DSM) and directory-based shared memory coherence protocols for a loosely-coupled cluster of computers, spawning an entire research area and introducing cache coherence mechanisms that are widely used in industry. In 2012, his original paper was selected for the ACM SIGOP hall of fame award. In the mid 1990s, he proposed user-level direct memory access mechanisms to improve the communication performance for a cluster of computers, making key contributions to the RDMA/Infiniband standard, which has been widely used in high-performance computing, data center networking and other areas. In 2001, he started Data Domain, Inc with two other cofounders, and led the innovations of key technologies to build the first and subsequent disk-based commercial deduplication storage systems. Such storage systems can store an order-of-magnitude more backup and archival data than traditional approaches and can transfer them efficiently over wide area network to remote sites for disaster recovery. These products have revolutionized how storage systems are built and how backups are stored at data centers. Data Domain went public at NASDAQ and was considered as a typical case of “disruptive innovation” in computer industry. In 2007, he collaborated with colleague Fei-Fei Li (currently a professor at Stanford University) to start the ImageNet project, and propelled the revolution of deep learning, accelerating the new wave of development of artificial intelligence.
Over the years, Professor Li has made great contributions to promoting innovation and research in China, disseminating cutting-edge computer technologies, promoting the reform of science and technology system and training of science and technology talents. He has been advising the Institute of Computing Technology of Chinese Academy of Science, especially with respect to the designs and implementations of several generations of Dawning high-performance computers in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has given numerous lectures as visiting professors at Tsinghua University, Peking University, Jilin University and Jinan University. He has served as an overseas council member of the China Computer Federation (CCF) to promote the internationalization of computer science in China. As the co-chair of ISCA in 2018, he brought the 35-year old flagship international conference on computer architecture to China for the first time, promoting the internationalization of academic research on computer architecture in China. China Computer Federation awarded him "Outstanding Overseas Contribution Award" in 2008.
Professor Li received most-influential paper awards in three core areas in computer science, including a most-influential paper in 25 years of International Symposium of Computer Architecture, a most-influential paper in 20 years of Programming Language Design and Implementation, and a 10-year best paper award of Very Large Data Bases. He also received ACM SIGOS Hall of Fame award. He was elected as ACM fellow, IEEE fellow, a member of Washington State Academy of Sciences, a member of national academy of engineering, and a foreign member of Chinese academy of engineering.
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