December 14, 2010 | Written by: IBM Research Editorial Staff
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Each year, around 40 world leaders in science and technology are part of an elite group that are selected to be named ACM Fellows. The distinction of ACM Fellow comes to those achieving accomplishments that are driving the innovations necessary to sustain competitiveness in the digital age. ACM Fellows are born out of the world’s leading universities, corporations and research labs and serve as distinguished colleagues to whom the ACM and its members look for guidance and leadership as the world of information technology evolves.
IBM has held steady in ACM Fellow appointments and this year is no exception. Of the 41 ACM Fellows named for 2010, two IBM researchers achieved this distinction: David Ungar and Shumin Zhai.
Having come a long way from repairing stereos and TVs and maintaining and analog computer, David is an expert recognized by peers far beyond IBM.
Shumin Zhai, an IBM Research – Almaden dynamo, was honored for his contributions to human-computer interface research and innovation. Side note: Zhai was a university professor at age 23.
Zhai explains, “I grew up during China’s culture revolution, so no one had a job in today’s sense. In 1977 – at age 16 – I was among the one percent lucky national university entrance examinees, the first such group after the 10 year culture revolution, to enter universities.” He goes on, “By the time I finished my master’s degree and started teaching, I was still not much older than the university students I taught. So when I walked into my first lecture I was visibly startled by the students who all customarily raised then burst into laughter. But by the end of the semester, they elected me “the best lecturer” among a teaching staff of well over 100.”
Now, as an IBMer, Zhai has several accolades under his belt. We have Zhai to thank for helping invent the ScrollPoint mouse and other input devices of IBM PCs and Thinkpads. He pioneered the touch screen gesture keyboard input method (smartphone, anybody?) with the ShapeWriter project. He’s now advancing that research by discovering and refining models and empirical laws of user action on computer screens which quantitatively predict users’ performance in pointing, crossing, steering, and stroke gesturing.
Ungar and Zhai join a list of several accomplished IBMers named ACM Fellow over the last 15+ years.