ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award
University of California at Berkeley United States – 2008

For seminal contributions to RISC microprocessor architectures, RAID storage systems design, and reliable computing, and for leadership in education and in disseminating academic research results into successful industrial products.

ACM Distinguished Service Award
University of California, Berkeley United States – 2007

For distinguished service to ACM and the computing community, especially in the areas of education, national committees, and professional societies.

Dr. David A. Patterson's sustained service, in a number of forms, has benefited the entire computing community. His creativity, ability to execute, and sheer energy have made computing better respected and better understood in many venues, national and international. His excellence in teaching has served several generations of computer scientists at the University of California directly, and his computer architecture textbooks have served a broader audience.

Over the years Dr. Patterson has maintained a high level of professional service. He served on the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC); was a Board Member and then Chair of the Board of Directors of the Computing Research Association (CRA); served on the National Research Council's Computer Science and Telecommunications Board; and was recently President of the ACM. In each of these roles he has a record of significant accomplishments. As President of ACM he created six major initiatives in the areas of research funding, offshoring, publicity for ACM, the health of professional conferences, high school education, and ACM member communication.

As a member of the National Academy of Engineering's Membership Committee, Dr. Patterson has highlighted the contributions of other outstanding computing researchers, thereby increasing the number of computer scientists annually elected to the NAE. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, and AAAS.

United States – 1994

Professor Patterson is a quintessential example of a professor who combines highest intellectual ability and technical expertise with a total dedication to his role as a teacher, mentor, and friend of his students.


For his pioneering work on RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing), his course series on RISC that produced a whole generation of academicians, and for his novel approach to teaching computer science to non-CS majors.

It is hard to conceive of a professor who has done more for the advancement of education in computer science and engineering than Professor Patterson. Through his pioneering work on RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computing), Professor Patterson has gained national and international recognition as a leader in the advancement of computer technology. But what is equally important is that he has played a major role as an expositor of his ideas through teaching, writing and lecturing.

Professor Patterson's teaching is a striking demonstration of the importance of the interaction between teaching and research. His technique of involving students in team projects to develop innovative computer designs has played a key role in the development of RISC. He led three generations of RISC courses and seminars, involving students in each step of the design, fabrication and testing of a micro computer-on-a-chip. The RISC project not only produced a profound impact on computer technology, it also resulted in a whole generation of academicians. Ten of the participating students have joined academic departments and some of the lead students on the project have won other ACM awards for distinguished dissertations.

He also developed a novel approach to bring more computer science education to non-CS majors at Berkeley. He has transferred his success to other institutions through a textbook that he co-authored with his teaching assistants, Computing Unbound: Using Computers in the Arts and Sciences and its accompanying laboratory manuals.

His latest educational initiative is in his own field, computer architecture. He has co-authored the text Computer Architecture: A Quantitive Approach, and has made videotapes of his lectures available at cost to other universities.

In summary, Professor Patterson is a quintessential exampled of a professor who combines highest intellectual ability and technical expertise with a total dedication to his role as a teacher, mentor, and friend of his students.

In this second installment of "People of ACM," we are featuring David Patterson.

David Patterson is the founding director of the Parallel Computing Laboratory (PAR Lab) at University of California, Berkeley, which addresses the multicore challenge to software and hardware. He founded the Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems Laboratory (RAD Lab), which focuses on dependable computing systems designs. He led the design and implementation of RISC I, likely the first VLSI Reduced Instruction Set Computer.

A former ACM president, Patterson chaired ACM's Special Interest Group in Computer Architecture (SIGARCH), and headed the Computing Research Association (CRA). He is a Fellow of ACM, IEEE, the Computer History Museum, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. He received the Eckert-Mauchly Award from ACM and IEEE-CS, and ACM's Distinguished Service and Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Awards. He served on the Information Technology Advisory Committee for the US President (PITAC).

Patterson is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned his A.B., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He has consulted for Hewlett Packard, (HP), Digital Equipment (now HP), Intel, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems, and is on the technical advisory board of several companies.