Dr. Alfred Z. Spector




Educational History

Employment (1981 – present)

Professional Associations

American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Association for Computing Machinery, IEEE, National Academy of Engineering

Present Professional Activities

Harvard Data Science Review Advisory Board, 2019 to present.

Caltech IST Advisory Council, 2019 to present.

Selector, Schmidt Science Fellows, 2018 to present.

Turing Award Committee of the ACM, 2015 to present. Chair of the 2017 Award.

Council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015 to present.

Previous Professional Activities


Vice Chair, Section 5 (Computer Science and Engineering), National Academy of Engineering, 2011 - 2012.

Board Member, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, 2006-2012.

Chair, Visiting Committee, Stanford Department of Computer Science, Stanford, CA, 2007.

Member, Engaging the Computer Science Research Community in Healthcare Informatics, National Research Council, 2007 - 2009.

Board Member, Computing Research Association, 2003 - 2006

Chair, National Science Foundation CISE Advisory Board, 2003 – 2005.  Member, 2002-2006.

Board Member, Security Industry Middleware Council, Inception – 2005.


Awards and Recognition

ACM Software System Award for developing the Andrew File System (AFS), (with Mahadev Satyanarayanan, Michael L. Kazar, Robert N. Sidebotham, David A. Nichols, Michael J. West, John H. Howard, and Sherri M. Nichols), 2016.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow, 2009.

ACM Fellow, 2006.

National Academy of Engineering Member, 2004. For the design, implementation, and commercialization of reliable, scalable architectures for distributed file systems, transaction systems, and other applications.

IEEE Fellow, 2003.

IEEE Computer Society’s Tsutomu Kanai Award established to recognize individuals for outstanding contributions in the area of distributed computing systems, 2001.

Entrepreneur of the Year Regional Finalist as founder and CEO of Transarc Corporation, 1992

Certificate of Appreciation for Patriotic Civilian Service, Department of the Army, 1990.

Select Publications

Informal Publications and Blogs


Technical Papers in Refereed Journals and Conference Proceedings

Invited Journal Articles

Major Case Studies of Systems


Protecting Content on a Mobile Device from Mining: USPTO 9563671 and 9401000 (Alfred Spector, David Petrou, Blaise Aguera-Arcas, Matthew Sharifi - Assigned to Google)

Invited Conference Articles

Articles in Books

Select Technical Reports and Unrefereed Publications

Select Commercial Keynotes, 2000 - present

Data Science: Opportunities, Limitations, and Perils: FinTech and Big Data, Cambridge, MA, September 2017.

A Magnificent Onslaught of Data:The Potential and the Challenge, Summit at Sea, November 2015.


National Principals Leadership Institute, Keynote - Education for Innovation and Vice-Versa, New York, NY, July 2015.

Empowering the Next Generation of World-Changing Ideas, BBC World-Changing Ideas Summit, New York, NY, October 2014.  (Talk on the future of education)

The Prodigiousness of Data, GigaOM Structure: Big Data 2011, New York, NY March 2011.

SOA Days 2006, Technology Conference, Bonn, Germany, September 2006, SOA: Present Capabilities and Future Technical/Business Directions.

RedHat Summit, Nashville, TN, June 2006 Linux, Open Collaboration, and Innovation.

Select Audio and Video

Phi Beta Kappa Key Conversations Podcast, Fred Lawrence, Interviewer.  

Google’s Map Reduce Engineer Round Table Discussion - Technology Talk.  Sanjay Ghemawat, Jeff Dean, Jerry Zhao, Matt Austern, Alfred Spector, August 2008.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXCIItzkn3E

Google Search Infrastructure & Quality Engineer Round Table Discussion - Technology Talk.  Jeff Dean, Amit Singhal, Alfred Spector, August 2008. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SGRKPpIMwc

Google Human Language Technology Engineer Round Table Discussion - Technology Talk.  Mike Cohen, Franz Och, Alfred Spector, August 2008.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g2Julc2drg

Selected Invited Panels, Workshops, and Seminars, 2000 – present

Challenges in the time of COVID:  Research and Collaboration, Chaired Panel with Laura Haas and Ben Zorn.  Computing Research Association Virtual Conference, July 2020.  (video will become available, no doubt.)

Opportunities and Perils of Data Science: A Roadmap, Dean’s Distinguished Speaker Series, University of California, Irvine, February 25 2020.  (Talk available as https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vF4DZM0AehY.)

Thoughts from a Strayed Attendee: Success -> Complexity -> Society, HPTS 2019, Asilomar Grove, CA, November 2019.  (See http://www.hpts.ws/papers/2019/spector.pdf)

Research on the Edge of the Expanding Sphere, V. 2.0, Senior Vice Chancellor for Research Lecture, Science 2019, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, October 2019.

Data Science - Immense Good Yet Baffling Challenges, Keynote, UIUC Reflections | Projections Conference, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, IL, September 2019.

Phi Beta Kappa Scholar Lectures (2018-9): Presented at Denison College, University of Arizona, Rhodes College, Valparaiso University, and Mount Holyoke:

Opportunities and Perils in Data Science, Presentations at Berkeley, Caltech, 2018 Case Conference, Cornell, Google, Harvard, MIT, Rice, Columbia, Two Sigma, 2016-8.

Empiricism and Optimization in the World of Big Data (Plenary Keynote), Informs 2015, Philadelphia, PA, November 2015.

Challenges as Data Science Pervades Everything, Panel Chair; Societal Impact through Computing Research, Harvard Center for Research in Computation and Society, Cambridge, September 2015.

The Growth of Empiricism in Computer Science:  Successes, Challenges, and Implications, Robert E. Kahn and Patrice Lyons Lecture, City College, New York, NY, May 2015.

Data Science, Exploring the Limits, Panel Chair with participants: Jure Leskovec, Franz Och, Jake Hofman,  2015 Data Science Workshop, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, April 2015.

Computer Science and Society or, The Ever Expanding Sphere, White House Fellows Conference, Washington, October 2012.

Computer Science - The Ever Expanding Sphere, Columbia University, Distinguished Lecture, Spring 2012.

Conversation with the Future: Google, Campus Technology 2011, Boston, MA, July 2011.

Prodigious Data, Logic, Processing, and Usage, SEKE 2010, Redwood City, July 2010.

Presentations on Innovation from a Google Perspective:

      University of Warsaw, Warsaw, October 2010

      University of California, Berkeley, January 2009

University of California, San Diego, January 2009

Tsinghua University, Beijing, October 2008

Shanghai Jiao Tong, Shanghai, October 2008

Cornell, September 2008

MIT, May 2008.

University of Michigan, April 2008.

The Continuing Metamorphosis of the Web, WWW 2009, Madrid Spain, April 2009.

Why We’re Able to Google, Computing Research That Changed the World, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, March 2009.

Distributed Computing at Multidimensional Scale, Middleware 2008, Leuven Belgium, December, 2008.

Toward Transaction Processing Engineering, High Performance Transactions Systems Conference, Asilomar, CA, October 2007.


Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, April 2007, IT Eminent Lecture Series, Towards a Software Science of Design.  Abstract available as https://www.cct.lsu.edu/lectures/towards-software-science-design. Talk was available as at http://www.cct.lsu.edu/events/talks/166

Almaden Institute, San Jose, CA, April 2007, A Few Thoughts on Software Complexity.  


Towards a Software Science of Design, National Science Foundation Science of Design PI Meeting, Arlington, VA, March 2007.


National Research Council Workshop on Uncertainty at Scale, Washington, DC, January 2007, The Old, The Old, and the New.

International Conference on Services-Oriented Computing, 2006, Chicago, December 2007, The Steady Path to Services-Oriented Computing.

Comsware 2006, New Delhi, India, January 2006, It Meets Telecom, the Next Generation


 Semantic Web Conference, Galway, Ireland, November 2005, The Practical Web – Semantic Acceleration – Helping Realize the Semantic Web Vision http://iswc2005.semanticweb.org/SpectorPresentationISWC2005.pdf

Staying off the Hot Seat with Cool Mobile Systems, Mobisys Conference, Seattle, WA , June 2005


Center for Research on Computation and Society, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, Nov 8, 2004.  Research on the Edge of the Expanding Sphere.

University of Washington, March 2004, Software and Systems Research at IBM.

Microsoft Research, March 2004, The Conundrum of Distributed Systems.

Symposium on Operating System Principles, October 2003, Distributed Computing:
Commercial Landscape, Status, & Challenge.  (Keynote Speaker).  Video available via


The Bruce Nelson Distinguished Lecture, October 2003,  Decades of Distributed Computing,(Distinguished Lecture). Video available via http://calendar.cs.cmu.edu/dlseries/1483.html

OOPSLA 2002, Seattle, November 2002, Web Services: Delivering on the Promise of Distributed

Systems (Keynote Speaker)  (PDF Available)

International Conference on Supercomputing 2002, New York, June 2002, Challenges and Opportunities in Autonomic Computing.  (Keynote Speaker)

CRA Conference on Grand Research Challenges, Warrenton, VA, June 2002, CRA Opening Message on Technology Outlook. (Opening Conference Presentation)

Berkeley CSD ROC Retreat, Lake Tahoe, June 2002, Autonomic Computing and More. (Keynote)

WWW2002, Honolulu, May 2002, Architecting Knowledge Middleware (Keynote)