CSL researcher David Nicol is named first recipient of ACM's Distinguished Contributions Award
llinois researcher David M. Nicol has been named the first recipient of the Distinguished Contributions Award, introduced in 2007 by the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Simulation (SIGSIM). Nicol is a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, the Information Trust Institute (ITI), and the Coordinated Science Laboratory.
Each year, SIGSIM will choose just one individual for this significant award, which honors contributions to the area of computer-based simulation. The nominating committee selected Nicol unanimously, noting that he had made "numerous and significant contributions" in virtually every area that the award is designed to recognize.
Nicol has devoted most of his research effort over the last 25 years to finding better ways to develop and analyze simulation models. His most recognized contribution has been the development of a method for synchronizing simulation solution that he mathematically proved would always be almost optimal. Furthermore, he has shown that his technique can be scaled, meaning that a researcher can increase the size of a problem and also the size of the computing platform, while continuing to achieve good performance.
Nicol has also applied the work to several problem domains. Over the last seven years he has focused on security work, evaluating performance aspects of security protocols to model the impact of malware (such as worms and viruses) on systems like the Internet, and developing tools so that practitioners can evaluate how strong their defenses are. He has also recently become the leader of the Critical Infrastructures & Homeland Defense research theme at the UI's Information Trust Institute.
Prof. Ravishankar K. Iyer, Director of the Coordinated Science Laboratory, praised Nicol's work and ACM's selection of him for the new award: "It is especially gratifying to see David win it in the first year."
Prof. William H. Sanders, Director of the Information Trust Institute, added, "David's work has important ramifications for the trustworthiness of the computers and networks that society depends on. I'm honored to be his colleague."