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Digital Equipment Corporation
Maynard, Massachusetts 01754-2571
DIGITAL RESEARCHERS HONORED BY ACM
Raman receives Doctoral Dissertation Award;
Birrell covets Software System Awards
MAYNARD, Mass. -- March 1, 1995 -- Digital Equipment Corporation
today announced two of its research engineers as recipients of two
prestigious awards presented by the Association for Computing
Machinery (ACM). Dr. T.V. Raman was honored with the ACM's 1994
Doctoral Dissertation Award and Dr. Andrew Birrell, the 1994 ACM
Software System Award.
According to Dr. Samuel Fuller, Digital's vice president of
Corporate Research, "We're extremely proud to have two very talented
Digital researchers recognized for their outstanding achievements
and to know their contributions will have a lasting impact on the
computer science and engineering community at large."
Raman's principal interests in research lie within the area of
developing innovative multimedia user interfaces and computer-based
aids for the visually impaired. His dissertation, entitled, "Audio
System for Technical Readings," describes a system he built called
AsTeR. The AsTeR System produces aural presentations of
mathematical documents that were previously inaccessible to the
visually impaired and conveys them by controlling pitch, loudness,
pauses and other elements of sound.
The potential impact of the work this 29-year old researcher,
who is himself blind, is being honored for, has much broader
implications. The work in his thesis is the outgrowth of a search
for the solution to a problem that has long plagued blind people who
wanted to study math and science but had trouble with the symbols
that are found in all of the text books that are required reading
for these disciplines.
Many, including Recording for the Blind President Ritchie L.
Geisel, have described this work as "groundbreaking, astonishing,
cutting-edge research that will benefit not only people with
disabilities who cannot read print, but the entire computer-
dependent information-age society at large."
The creation of AsTeR will have an immediate benefit for the
visually impaired by aiding in the electronic production of audio
tapes that will be comparable in quality to those made by skilled
readers of technical material who read for the Princeton-based
Recordings for the Blind. Another benefit of AsTeR generated tapes
is the "absolute consistency" in the enunciation of mathematical
expressions. However, Raman believes that AsTeR's greatest value
lies in the interactive features it offers. AsTeR can comprehend the
logical structure of a document and convert aspects of that
structure to audio format.
The ACM's Doctoral Dissertation Award is presented annually to
the author(s) of the best doctoral dissertation(s) in computer
science and engineering.
Birrell's contributions lie within the area of distributed
computing. Sharing the Software Systems Award with Dr. Bruce
Nelson, at Auspex Systems, Inc., the two are being recognized for
the creation of a Remote Procedure Call System which was part of a
research project at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), known
as "Cedar." This system provides the backbone for today's
distributed systems environment. Virtually all Remote Procedural
Call (RPC) implementations in use today, in systems as diverse as
the OSF's Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) and Windows NT,
have built on, or incorporated the technology developed by Birrell
According to the ACM, "The Remote Procedure Call System that
was demonstrated in the Cedar project showed that such a programming
paradigm was indeed practical and effective. In today's client/
server environments, these "Remote Procedure Calls" provide the
basic mechanism for transferring requests from the clients to the
servers and receiving responses back at the client locations."
"Birrell and Nelson's work has ushered in many distributed
system services and continues to be used for development of
specialized, large distributed applications."
The ACM's Software System Award is presented to an institution
or individual(s) recognized for developing a software system that
has had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts,
in commercial acceptance, or both.
Raman holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics and an MS degree in
Computer Science from Cornell University. He also holds an MSc
degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from the Indian Institute
of Technology in Bombay and a BA degree in Mathematics from the
University of Pune, India.
Birrell received his undergraduate and Ph.D. degrees from the
University of Cambridge (U.K.).
The Association for Computing Machinery is the oldest and
biggest international, educational/scientific organization in
computing today. The ACM disseminates computing information to its
members and the public through its books and journals, its special
interest groups and conferences, and over global networks such as
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