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New Faculty Focus: Shivaram Venkataraman

He joins the Department of Computer Sciences with a focus on designing systems and algorithms for large-scale data analysis.

by Katie Vaughn October 3, 2018

Shivaram Venkataraman

Title: Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Hometown: Chennai, India

Educational background: PhD in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley

How did you get into your field of research?

After college, I worked as a software engineer at Google in Bangalore, India. The experience of working with software that was used to process large amounts of data motivated me to further pursue research in this field.

What attracted you to UW-Madison? 

UW-Madison has one of the best CS departments both in terms of faculty and students. In particular, for my research area of operating systems and distributed systems, the group at UW-Madison is among the top-ranked groups. The opportunity to advise students and collaborate with researchers in the department was one of the main attractions.

What was your first visit to campus like? 

My first visit to campus was during my interview in March. So I didn’t get the opportunity to see much of the campus! During my next visit in May, I got a chance to take in the views from Memorial Union and also visit the impressive UW Arboretum. 

What’s one thing you hope students who take a class with you will come away with?

The most important role of computer science education is to foster understanding of the core principles of computing. Thus, my hope is that students who take a class with me develop a sound understanding of foundational principles and through this they can learn new technologies through their careers.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.

The idea of striving to influence people beyond the classroom does relate to my approach to research. My research involves designing software for large-scale data processing and a number of my research projects are motivated by real-world problems that data scientists face. Correspondingly data scientists across different industries are using a number of systems that I developed in the past. My goal to achieve similar impact for projects I pursue in the future. 

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?

The data for many online services today are stored in datacenters. A datacenter is huge collection of computers and some datacenters are as big as nine football fields!

Hobbies/other interests: 

Reading, hiking, running.