Randy Katz on Influence Without Authority, Setting Up WhiteHouse.gov & Academic Leadership
26 min

Professor Randy Howard Katz, the Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Berkeley and the United Micro Electronics Corporation Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. He is a pioneer who helped develop many of the wireless tools and fast, reliable, computer storage, we take for granted today. Katz is well known in the computer industry for his development of RAID computer storage systems in the 1980s with Professor Emeritus David Patterson, and then graduate student Garth Gibson.

Short for Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks, RAID storage today is a $25 billion per year industry sector that allows the storage of data in multiple places across an array of many small, parallel computers for quick retrieval and protection against loss or corruption of the data. He is also known as the scientist who brought the nascent internet to the White House. In the 1990s, he set up the email accounts of former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, and built the original whitehouse.gov site, which has been the main portal into executive brunch ever since. Katz has also helped shepherd other innovations into common usage, wireless computing, wide area wireless networks for mobile devices, cloud-based applications and cloud storage and ways of managing and protecting computer networks. He currently is involved with the RISElab – Real-time Intelligent Secure Execution — where he collaborates on projects that use machine learning to control complex infrastructures like buildings, energy, and transportation systems. He is focused on exploiting "serverless computing", a way to harness lightweight, low cost, stateless virtual machine images typically found in cloud computing environments to perform long-running data-intensive computations.

He has published over 250 referee technical papers, book chapters, and books. His textbook "Contemporary Logic Design" has sold over 85,000 copies and has been used at over 200 colleges and universities. He has supervised 43 Master theses and 31 Ph.D. dissertations (including one ACM Dissertation award winner and eight women) and leads the research team of over ten graduate students, technical staff and academic visitors.

His recognitions include thirteen best paper awards (including one "Test of Time" Paper Award, and one selected for a 50 year retrospective on IEEE Communications publications), three best presentation awards, the Outstanding Alumni Award of the UCB Computer Science Division, the CRA Outstanding Service Award, the Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award, the Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Decoration, the IEEE Reynolds Johnson Information Storage Award, the ASEE Frederic E. Terman Award, and the ACM Karl V. Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award.

Katz has also had a profound impact on engineering education at Berkeley, and has been recognized for his dynamic teaching and mentoring with numerous honors, including the campus's distinguished Teaching Award. He has been a frequent instructor in the freshman seminar program, teaching courses on the history of communications technologies.

Katz is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has also been inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame. He was awarded the IEEE James H. Mulligan, Jr. Education Medal in 2010.

He received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University, and his Master and Ph.D. degrees from UC Berkeley, all in computer science. Katz lives in San Francisco with his wife, psychologist Zoi Eliou and his two rescue dogs, Benji and Lulu. He is an avid Giants fan and amateur actor and playwright, a voracious reader of fiction and history and enjoys board games.

Show transcript: https://www.jeremyau.com/blog/randy-katz

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