Tom Leighton MIT Department of Mathematics
& Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
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Brief Biography

Tom Leighton is a Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was head of the Algorithms Group from its inception in 1996 until 1998, when he co-founded Akamai Technologies. Currently on leave from MIT, he serves as Akamai's CEO and a member of the board of directors.

Prof. Leighton is one of the world's preeminent authorities on algorithms for network applications. He holds numerous patents involving cryptography, digital rights management, and algorithms for networks, and has published more than 100 research papers in the areas of parallel algorithms and architectures, distributed computing, communication protocols for networks, combinatorial optimization, probabilistic methods, VLSI computation and design, sequential algorithms, and graph theory. He is also the author or coauthor of three books, including a leading text on parallel algorithms and architectures, and a leading text on discrete mathematics for computer science, which have been translated into multiple languages.

He has served on dozens of government, industrial, and academic review committees, program committees, and editorial boards. He is the former two-term chair of the 2,000-member Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Complexity Theory (SIGACT); and a former two-term editor-in-chief of the Journal of the ACM, the nation's leading journal for computer science research.

From 2003 to 2005, Prof. Leighton served as the Chairman of the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) subcommittee on Cyber Security. In February of 2005, PITAC issued a report to the President, Cyber Security: A Crisis in Prioritization. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Professor Leighton has been personally committed to increasing the pipeline of students pursuing STEM careers for four decades, as a mathematics professor at MIT and through his leadership at Akamai. He is a strong supporter of the Akamai Foundation, which sponsors mathematics education, and he oversaw the creation of the Akamai Technical Academy, an innovative program developed in-house, aimed at training diverse non-technical professionals for technical careers. He also supports numerous charitable organizations dedicated to improving STEM education and opportunities for K-12 students, including The Center for Excellence in Education, the Society for Science and the Public (sponsor of the Regeneron Science Search), The Mathematical Association of America (sponsor of the Math Olympiad), the Math Competition for Girls, and Girls Who Code.

He received his B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Princeton University, where he graduated summa cum laude in 1978, and he received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from MIT in 1981. He joined the MIT Mathematics faculty in 1982, and became Professor in 1989. In 2018, he was awarded the Marconi Prize for his fundamental contributions to technology and the establishment of the content delivery network (CDN) industry. The IEEE awarded him the John von Neumann Medal in 2023 for fundamental contributions to algorithm design and their application to content delivery networks.


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