DNLee at Urban Science Adventures has started a new Carnival celebrating Diversity in Science. Since it's Black History Month, the goal is to celebrate black pioneers and innovators in STEM.
I really want to participate because, for selfish reasons as well as altruistic ones, I think it's very important to expose the diverse sources of innovation in our fields. Even if a field isn't very diverse (mine isn't), it's a great service to EXPOSE those who have made it, in order to inspire those below. (In case you haven't figured, I'm a big proponent of the Role Model Approach to achieving diversity in the sciences).
So, I went to Google and typed, "Black Computer Scientists". This is what I found:
A page devoted to black computer scientists of the African Diaspora. For ALL of computer science. Can you believe this astonishing fact, that fewer than 0.25% of CS-ers are black? It's horrifying. I don't know how up to date the page is, but there are really not a lot of people on that list. I do know that I have met very very very few black CS-ers in my journey through graduate school. I may come across VERY FEW WOMEN, but I come across EVEN FEWER black people, and I think this is a crime. I can count the number of women, black people, and hispanic people to get a PhD in my area at my Uni. in the years I've been there on one hand. Oh wait, on 1 finger. Yeah. One. Measly. Fucking. Finger.
So, I want to do my part and tell the blogosphere about a black innovator in Computer Science.
Like everyone knows, I'm a Computer Scientist. This does not make me a computer expert, but I do keep up. So one of the coolest computers on the market today is the Sun Niagara. This thing is crazy. You can't buy one for yourself, it's meant for servers and not PCs, but it's one of the coolest pieces of hardware out there.
The Sun Niagara is the brainchild of Kunle Olukoton, a professor at Stanford University. He is one of the innovators of the Chip Multiprocessing Era. Remember when Intel stopped pushing Gigahertz and started pushing number of cores? That's when the real shift to chip multiprocessing began, and Dr. Olukoton was right there at the cutting edge. Starting from a research project at Stanford, he founded a company to build a server-class chip multiprocessing platform, which was later bought by Sun Microsystems. These days, the latest Niagara can run 64 threads of execution AT THE SAME TIME. That's crazy. That's awesome. That might not mean anything to you, but for a geek like me, that's just cool.
And that's all folks. I betcha didn't know that a black man was the driving force for one of the coolest pieces of computing hardware today. But now you do.
1 year ago