Donald B. Gillies Chair in Computer Science

Donald GilliesThe Donald B. Gillies Chair in Computer Science honors the late Professor Gillies (1928-1975), who was a member of the faculty in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1956 to 1975. Gillies earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto in Canada in 1949 and his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1953. At Princeton, Gillies worked as a research assistant to John Von Neumann, a pioneer of the modern digital computer. He was among the first mathematicians to become involved in the computer field, helping to calculate the first Sputnik orbit and later discovering three new prime numbers in the course of checking out ILLIAC II.

Professor Gillies was an inspiration to his students. Long before the personal computer made "hands-on" computer experience commonplace, he recognized the need for students to have this opportunity and implemented several systems to provide it. Throughout his work and teaching, Gillies stressed the importance of the ethical use of computing machines in contemporary society. He was dedicated to the honest uses of technology, environmentally concerned, a man of wit, vigor, and understanding, Gillies challenged and stimulated those who knew him.

Lawrence (“Larry”) White established the Donald B. Gillies Endowed Faculty Positions in Computer Science Fund in 1999 with a gift of $2 million. White launched his programming career almost as soon as he got to college. While working on his degrees at Illinois, he spent four years as a student programmer on the PLATO project. White graduated with a master’s degree in computer science in 1976 after having earned his bachelor’s degree in math and computer science the previous year. After graduation, White stayed on at Illinois, eventually joining NCSA as a development manager. In the 1990s, he moved to Microsoft, joining the Exchange Server and SQL Server groups.

“Professor Gillies demonstrated tremendous enthusiasm for everything related to computers and a willingness to lead us, his students, into his world,” said White. “He acted like sharing his breadth of knowledge was a delight. Even though I’ve forgotten everything that was on the tests, I’ve never forgotten what it means to be a good teacher.”

Lui R. ShaLui R. Sha joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in 1998, and he was named the first Donald B. Gillies Chair in 2005. Sha has helped to create a comprehensive systems engineering approach to design and build complex real-time systems, advancing the field from one using hand-crafted, trial-by-error processes into one that is a scientific engineering discipline. The approach, called Generalized Rate Monotonic Scheduling (GRMS) theory, developed with John Lehoczky and Raj Rajkumar, provides predictability, efficiency, and flexibility for scheduling complex concurrent real-time tasks.

Professor Sha graduated with a Ph.D. from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1985. Before joining Illinois, he was a member and then a senior Member of Technical Staff at Software Engineering Institute (SEI) from 1986 to 1998. He was the Chair of IEEE Real Time Systems Technical Committee from 1999 to 2000, and has served on its Executive Committee since 2001. He is a member of National Academy of Science's study group on Software Dependability and Certification from 2004 to 2005, and an IEEE Distinguished Visitor from 2005 to 2007. He is an IEEE Fellow and an ACM fellow.