Prof. Leiserson's research centers on developing theoretical principles of parallel and distributed computing, especially as they relate to engineering reality. Prof. Leiserson pioneered the development of VLSI theory and has written many papers on VLSI algorithms, graph layout, and computer-aided design. His contributions include the divide-and-conquer method of graph layout and the ``retiming'' method for optimizing digital circuitry. Prof. Leiserson has been a leader in the development of parallel computing. As a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon, he wrote the first paper on systolic architectures with his advisor H.T. Kung. While Corporate Fellow of Thinking Machines Corporation, he designed and led the implementation of the network architecture for the Connection Machine Model CM-5 Supercomputer, which incorporated the ``fat-tree'' interconnection network he developed at MIT. Prof. Leiserson has designed and engineered many parallel algorithms, including ones for matrix linear algebra, graph algorithms, optimization, and sorting. Of particular note, he introduced the notion of cache-oblivious algorithms, which exploit a hierarchy of processor caches efficiently without any tuning of cache-dependent parameters.
Prof. Leiserson's recent research has focused on multithreaded computing. He developed the first provably good work-stealing scheduler that guarantees the efficient execution of multithreaded programs. He and his Supertech Research Group designed and developed the ``Cilk'' multithreaded programming language, which incorporates work-stealing and vastly simplifies multiprocessor programming. His research team implemented the StarTech, *Socrates, and Cilkchess parallel chess-playing programs, which have won numerous prizes in international competition. A team of Cilk programmers led by Prof. Leiserson won First Prize in the 1998 ICFP Programming Contest sponsored by the International Conference on Functional Programming, in which Cilk was declared to be ``the programming language of choice for discriminating hackers.''
Prof. Leiserson's academic work has won many awards. His Ph.D. dissertation, Area-Efficient VLSI Computation, which deals with the design of systolic systems and with the problem of determining the VLSI area of a graph, won the ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award in 1982, as well as the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Doctoral Thesis Prize. In 1985 he received a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation. His textbook, Introduction to Algorithms, coauthored with Ronald L. Rivest, and Thomas H. Cormen, was named Best 1990 Professional and Scholarly Book in Computer Science and Data Processing by the Association of American Publishers. The textbook, now in its third edition with an additional coauthor, Clifford Stein, has been the leading textbook on computer algorithms for many years and is the most cited publication in computer science, according to CiteSeerX. Prof. Leiserson's publications are cited over 10,000 times in the literature, also according to CiteSeerX. He has won many best-paper awards at leading academic conferences. He is an ACM Fellow and a senior member of IEEE and SIAM.
Prof. Leiserson has been a leader in faculty and student development of nontechnical skills. His annual workshop on Leadership Skills for Engineering and Science Faculty, cotaught with Chuck McVinney, has educated hundreds of faculty at MIT and around the world since 2002 in the nontechnical issues involved in leading technical teams in academia. He helped found MIT's Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP) and has served as co-Director of its annual workshop for sophomores since its inception in 2002.
During 1995-6, Prof. Leiserson was Shaw Visiting Professor in the Department of Information Systems and Computer Science at the National University of Singapore. He is past Computer Science Program Chair for the Singapore-MIT Alliance, a distance-education initiative in which students in Singapore take MIT classes. He held an Adjunct Professorship at the National University of Singapore for many years; was Director of System Architecture, Director of Research, and Network Architect at Akamai Technologies, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts; and was founder and CTO of Cilk Arts, Inc. of Burlington, Massachusetts, before the company was bought by Intel Corporation. He has consulted for many companies over the years and is currently consulting for the Cilk team at Intel Corporation. A dedicated teacher, Prof. Leiserson has directly supervised 25 Ph.D. students and over 60 Master's and Bachelor's students.