2013 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Lawrence Landweber
M.S. 1966, Ph.D. 1967, Computer Science
Lawrence H. Landweber is the John P. Morgridge Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he was on the faculty from 1967 to 2000.
He is a Fellow of the ACM and in 2005 received the IEEE Award on International Communication. In 2009, his CSNET project was awarded the Jonathan B. Postel Service Award by the Internet Society. He delivered the commencement address and received an Honorary Doctor of Science from CUNY Brooklyn College in 2009. In 2012 he was inducted into the first class of the Internet Hall of Fame. In 1995, Newsweek Magazine called him the "Guardian of the Internet" and included him among their "Net 50."
From 2003 to 2006, Dr. Landweber was a Senior Advisor to the Assistant Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering of the U.S. National Science Foundation. He is currently an advisor to the GENI Project, whose goal is the development of a national-scale network infrastructure to support research on the network of the future. He has been a member of the Board of Internet2, Chair of the Board, President, and Vice President for Education of the Internet Society and a member of the Computer Research Association Board.
Early in his career, Dr. Landweber worked on the theory of computing, serving as Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on Automata and Computability (SIGACT). His work in the 1960s on solving infinite regular games is the foundation on which much current work on temporal program synthesis, a very active research area these days, is being based. Since 1977, he has worked on computer networks.
Dr. Landweber's first networking project in 1977, TheoryNet, involved an email system for theoretical computer scientists. In 1979, he proposed the CSNET (Computer Science Network) project. The goal was a network for all U.S. university, industry, and government computer research groups. Funded by NSF in 1981, CSNET provided an early "large-scale" community network based on Internet technology. Landweber served as the first Chair of the project and also co-led a project that designed and implemented an early network-based directory system, "the CSNET name server." By 1984, over 180 university, industry, and government computer science departments were participating. Concurrently, his team developed one of the first Internet protocol implementations. Later, he worked with NSF on the development of the NSFNET, the first backbone for the Internet.
Dr. Landweber was a leader in the development of the international Internet. In the 1980s he helped establish the first network gateways between the U.S. and countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America and also advised these countries on the development of their national networks. Much of this progress resulted from a series of International Academic NetWorkshops that he organized beginning in 1982. These workshops were attended by individuals who were pioneering the development of national networks in their countries. The goals were to educate, share experiences and encourage those attending to connect their countries to the Internet. These workshops accelerated the development of the Internet in many countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. Based on the success of the IANWs, he organized the first global INET conference. In addition, his connectivity maps were widely used to chronicle the worldwide spread of the Internet.
From 1987 to 1992, he led the Wisconsin component of the NSF-DARPA Gigabit Testbed Project. This research project accelerated the commercial development of fiber-optic gigabit speed networks. Until 2008, he participated in the NSF-funded 100x100 project, whose goal was to redesign the Internet to accommodate 100 million homes connected at 100 Mbps.
In the 1990s he helped initiate the Internet Society's Workshops for Developing Countries. These workshops were a key factor in the spread of the Internet to developing countries. Later he collaborated on the plan for what became the USAID Leland Initiative, the program that played a major role in bringing the Internet to Africa. While President of the Internet Society, he initiated the ISOC proposal to revise the governance of the Domain Name System and assisted in the formation of ICANN.
He has served on three NSF division scientific advisory committees, and National Research Council committees on Computer-Computer Communication Protocols, The Future of the NREN, and Information Technology Strategy for the Library of Congress.
Dr. Landweber has worked with information technology startup companies since the 1990s, serving on the Board of Directors of a variety of for-profit and non-profit companies. He co-founded an angel investment group in Madison, WI that focused on information technology and currently advises two investment funds.
Past is Prologue
Research, often involving university/industry collaboration, funded by the U.S. government in the 1960s through the 1980s led to the development of the Internet. This research was soon followed by risk-taking entrepreneurs and investors who created startup companies that formed the basis for multi-billion dollar industries. This process, based on new paradigms and technologies, is again unfolding with exciting new research and entrepreneurial opportunities. The outlines of tomorrow’s computer/communication environment are not yet clear but what is clear is that it will likely be very different from that of today.