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Profs. Nieh and Stolfo Elected ACM Fellows

Dec 17 2019 | By Bernadette Young | Nieh Photo Credit: Eileen Barroso | Stolfo Photo Credit: Jeffrey Schifman

Computer Science Professors Jason Nieh and Salvatore Stolfo have been named 2019 Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Fellows. They join a select class of 58 newly elected fellows to be inducted at a ceremony in San Francisco in June 2020. The ACM Fellows Program honors exceptional members around the world; they comprise an elite group representing less than 1% of the Association’s global membership. 

ACM recognized Professor Jason Nieh for his “long standing contributions to operating systems, virtualization, and computer science education.” Nieh and his students have designed innovative technologies that have led to commercially successful, widely used breakthrough products. These products form the fundamental building blocks for much of the computing infrastructure that we rely on today. 

An early pioneer in developing lightweight virtualization, now referred to as containers, Nieh created and published the first studies that introduced a number of key technologies for containers that are now commonly used in industry. He also pioneered virtualization for ARM systems, which dominate mobile and embedded systems and are increasingly utilized in servers and cloud computing infrastructure. Technologies he developed are now used extensively in major operating system platforms, including Android and Linux, and are built into ARM processors, billions of which ship each year. 

Nieh was also a groundbreaker as an educator, showing how virtualization could be used for computer science education. The first to introduce virtualization as a pedagogical tool for teaching hands-on computer science courses such as operating systems, he enabled students to have their own dedicated development and test environment for learning about the design and implementation of operating systems. Nieh’s innovations in teaching using virtualization have since become widely adopted and common practice in universities around the world. For his innovations in teaching operating systems, he received Columbia University’s Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award in 2004.

Salvatore J. Stolfo was recognized for his “contributions to machine-learning-based cybersecurity and parallel hardware for database inference systems.” Widely credited with creating a branch of machine learning applied to intrusion detection, he has developed a number of anomaly-detection algorithms and systems that address some of the hardest problems in securing computer systems. He is particularly interested in detecting zero-day attacks and credential theft. Stolfo is also co-inventor of a novel technology that automatically injects intrusion detection functionality into arbitrary special-purpose embedded devices, including printers, VoIP phones, and IoT devices.

At Columbia, Stolfo directs the Intrusion Detection Systems Group, focused on building next-generation tools to detect stealthy and malicious intruders in computer systems. This research includes anomaly detection, collaborative intrusion detection, attacker modeling, malicious code, and secure hardware/software embedded systems.

During his more than four decades at Columbia Engineering, Stolfo has raised over $50 million in funding for research on security, intrusion detection, anomaly detection, and machine learning. His work has generated over 60 patents and more than 230 papers, many having received best paper awards at prominent conferences. He has advised and mentored more than 30 PhD students, as well as dozens of MS students and postdocs.