Vipin Kumar

Regents Professor

Computer Science and Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, 2015

Vipin Kumar, William Norris Professor and head of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, College of Science and Engineering, is described as a world-renowned computer scientist and an extraordinary mentor and educator, with an outstanding record of service to his profession and to the University of Minnesota. Considered the founder of the field of scientific data mining, he has played a pioneering role in bringing the Big Data community and the earth science communities together to address one of the societal challenges of our times--understanding the impact of human induced changes on the earth system and its environment. One of Kumar’s key contributions has been to bring the promise of novel automated knowledge discovery methods to the problem of analyzing massive amounts of data that are generated in many scientific disciplines, including large scale computational simulations and those from Earth observing satellites. This research Kumar and his group are doing is considered groundbreaking and is expected to produce essential information for changing international policy regarding climate change. One of Kumar’s innovations, iso efficiency analysis, enabled car crash testing software to be executed efficiently on highly parallel supercomputers. His work on graph partitioning algorithms and software (METIS, ParMETIS, hMETIS) is used worldwide to effectively partition work for scalable execution on large-scale parallel computers. Variants of these algorithms are used in a range of applications including computer chip design, customer segmentation, social network analysis, and storing large geographic data sets for efficient access.

Kumar’s research has been continuously funded by highly competitive peer reviewed NSF grants and from other federal agencies. Over the three decades of his productive academic career, his grant support totals over $80 million. He has authored more than 300 research articles, and has co-edited or co-authored 11 books, including the widely used text books Introduction to Parallel Computing and Introduction to Data Mining, which have been translated in several languages and have multiple international editions. Many of his papers and books are amongst the most highly cited articles on the topic. Because he is an internationally esteemed expert in his field, he is a speaker much sought after. He has presented more than 50 keynotes, plenary, or distinguished/endowed lectures at major conferences, workshops, and academic institutions.

His intellectual leadership in his field is reflected in the numerous awards and recognition he has received, including being elected a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement for Science, Association for Computing Machinery, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. The Indian Institute of Technology recognized him in 2013 with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, and in 2009, he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland College Park. His groundbreaking research in data mining and its applications to scientific data was honored by the ACM SIGKDD 2012 Innovation Award, the highest award for technical excellence in the field of Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining.

Described as an inspirational teacher and adviser, Kumar has mentored and advised 33 Ph.D. graduates and over 50 BS and MS graduates who are already leaders in the field at top academic institutions and industry labs. In his honor, a $500,000 endowed scholarship fund was established by one of his former students, Jeff Dean, Senior Google Fellow, member of the National Academy of Engineering, and recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award at the University of Minnesota, to support undergraduate education.

His service to the profession, University, and the department are exemplary. He has served as honorary chair, general chair, and program chair for many major international conferences. Kumar is credited with co-founding the SIAM International Conference on Data Mining (SDM) and the journal Statistical Analysis and Data Mining (SAM). The SDM conference is considered the top conference for scientific Data Mining. He has played a key role in the formation of several interdisciplinary centers and institutions at the University, including the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute (MSI), the Institute for Minnesota Informatics Institute (UMII), and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), to name a few. He served as the director of the Army High Performance Computing Research Center from 1998-2005, where he managed a $56 million interdisciplinary research program. Kumar stepped down from this role in 2005 to become head of the highly ranked Department of Computer Science and Engineering, the position he continues to hold today.

Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.