Randal E. Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science since 2004, will step down as dean at the end of his term, which expires June 30, 2014.
“It’s been a wonderful experience for me to serve as dean,” said Bryant, a University Professor who joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1984. “I’ve gotten to work with many creative and capable people on projects ranging from new research initiatives and new educational programs to improved outreach to our alumni and supporters. I’ve been able to ride in autonomous vehicles, walk around muddy construction sites, and meet with alumni and friends of SCS all around the world.
“I’ve especially enjoyed meeting the families of our students at graduation, sharing with them the excitement of our students’ achievements,” he added.
Bryant, who has continued to teach regular courses as dean, plans to return to regular duties as a professor in the Computer Science Department following a one-year sabbatical leave, his first ever.
Guy Blelloch, professor of computer science, will chair a search committee for Bryant’s replacement.
A graduate of the University of Michigan, Bryant earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT in 1981. He was an assistant professor at Caltech from 1981-84 before joining CMU as an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department in 1984.
Bryant rose through the ranks as associate and full professor and was named the President's Professor of Computer Science in 1997. Prior to becoming dean, he was head of the Computer Science Department from 1999-2004.
Bryant is recognized for his research on Binary Decision Diagrams (BDDs), a method for symbolically reasoning about Boolean logic. BDDs have been widely used in industry to verify and diagnose the flaws in computer hardware and software.
He has received major awards from both the IEEE and the Association for Computing Machinery, the two main professional societies for computer science, and is a fellow of both organizations. He has also received major awards from industry organizations, including the Electronic Design Automation Consortium and the Semiconductor Research Association. He has been elected to both the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
As dean, Bryant has been instrumental in fostering research in data-intensive computing, both at CMU and at a national level. CMU's strengths in data-storage systems, parallel computing, natural language processing, and machine learning have enabled it to become a leader in Big Data computing. He was also directly involved in the creation of the software developer certification project, an activity conducted in conjunction with the Kenya Information and Computation Technology Board and funded by the World Bank to create a worldwide test to measure the qualifications of entry-level software developers.
Bryant has been active in undergraduate education throughout his time at CMU. In 1998, he and Professor David O'Hallaron created an introductory computer systems course that focused on how application programmers can make use of the capabilities provided by computer hardware, operating systems, compilers, and networks to create efficient and reliable programs. This course is now taught to more than 700 CMU students each year. Their textbook "Computer Systems: A Programmer's Perspective" is now in its second edition and has sold over 140,000 copies in five languages.