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June 5: Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Dean Randal E. Bryant Receives IEEE's Piore Award for Improving Quality of Electronic Systems Design


Anne Watzman                       

Byron Spice   

Carnegie Mellon's Computer Science Dean Randal E. Bryant Receives
IEEE's Piore Award for Improving Quality of Electronic Systems Design   

PITTSBURGH—Randal E. Bryant, University Professor and dean of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, is the 2007 recipient of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) Emanuel R. Piore Award. Bryant received the award in recognition of his seminal contributions to the simulation and verification of electronic systems.    

The IEEE is the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology. Its Emanuel R. Piore Award recognizes outstanding contributions in the field of information processing as they relate to computer science. Bryant received the award June 5 at the 44th Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)/IEEE Design Automation Conference in San Diego. The award, which includes a bronze medal, certificate and cash honorarium, is named for Emanuel Piore, the first director of research at IBM.   

Randy BryantWith the ever-increasing complexity of electronic systems and the increasing extent to which they are used, ensuring the quality of their design is critical. To address this issue, Bryant developed efficient algorithms based on ordered binary decision diagrams (OBDDs) to manipulate the logic functions that form the basis for computer designs. His work revolutionized the field, enabling reasoning about large-scale circuit designs for the first time. Earlier in his career, Bryant developed the MOSSIM switch-level simulator, the first tool that could model the behavior of very large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuits. Major companies used this tool and continue to use succeeding versions to simulate microprocessors and other complex systems.    

Over time, Bryant's focus shifted from simulation, where a design is tested for a representative set of cases, to formal verification, where the design is shown to operate correctly under all possible conditions. It was in this context that he developed the algorithms based on binary demission diagrams. Today, it is standard practice for hardware engineers to use OBDD-based equivalence checkers. Bryant's OBDD data structure provides a way to represent and reason about Boolean functions. OBDDs form the computational basis for tools that perform hardware and software verification, logic circuit synthesis, circuit test generation and artificial intelligence planning.  

In his 22 years at Carnegie Mellon, Bryant has also developed ways to simulate a circuit using symbolic variables to encode its bit-level signals. More recently, he has been developing formal verification techniques that use more abstract representations of circuit behavior, an approach that can handle much larger and more complex systems. Bryant's work has resulted in the production of more reliable computing platforms with far-reaching economic and scientific implications.   

Bryant earned a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics from the University of Michigan in 1973, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. He joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty in 1984 after three years as an assistant professor at the California Institute of Technology. He became head of the Computer Science Department in 1999, and in 2004 he was named a University Professor, the highest honor a faculty member can achieve at Carnegie Mellon.


About the IEEE: The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society. Through its more than 370,000 members in 160 countries, the organization is a leading authority on a wide variety of areas ranging from aerospace systems, computers and telecommunications to biomedical engineering, electric power and consumer electronics. Dedicated to the advancement of technology, the IEEE publishes 30 percent of the world's literature in the electrical and electronics engineering and computer science fields, and has developed nearly 900 active industry standards. The organization also sponsors or co-sponsors more than 450 international technical conferences each year. Additional information about the IEEE can be found at