Jim Hendler, head of the Department of Computer Science and senior constellation professor in the Tetherless World Constellation at Rensselaer, has been honored with an inaugural Strata Data Innovation Award, given to individuals who have made significant innovations in the data field.
The award, given as part of the O’Reilly Strata Conference taking place this week in New York City, was created to “recognize disruptive, innovative technologies in big data and data science, highlight data science as an increasing importance for companies, and showcase the highlights of the growing data community,” according to the conference website.
“Through his work on projects like Data.gov and the Linking Open Government Data portal, Dr. Hendler is harnessing the power of technology to serve the public good,” said Laurie Leshin, dean of the School of Science. “We are proud of his efforts and congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition.”
Hendler, formerly the director of the Information Technology and Web Science program at Rensselaer, was honored for his contributions to “Most Effective Opening of Data,” exemplified by his work making federal datasets available on the federal government repository data.gov more accessible to the public and researchers through the use of Semantic web techniques. Under his direction, the Tetherless World team created the Linking Open Government Data (LOGD) portal, which hosts data.gov datasets that have been converted and enhanced with Semantic Web technologies, and a search engine that helps users find the data they need from over a million datasets from around the world.
Hendler received the award Thursday.
“As data moves from ‘big’ to ‘broad,’ we have the potential to find, link, query, visualize, and share data at a level never before possible. Developing new, web-based technologies for these challenges has been the cornerstone of my work since coming to RPI five years ago, and it is great to get this recognition for the efforts my research group has made,” Hendler said. “RPI is one of the top places in the world for new data engineering research, and I'm excited to get this award as yet more evidence of the continuing growth in the strength of data science expertise here.”
Now in its second year in New York, the O’Reilly Strata Conference explores the changes brought to technology and business by big data, data science, and pervasive computing, according to the conference website. Strata brings together decision makers using the raw power of big data to drive business strategy, and practitioners who collect, analyze, and manipulate that data—particularly in finance, media, and government.
Other award winners included the Chief Information Officer of the City of Chicago Department of Innovation and Technology, the Director of Research for MIT Libraries, and an associate professor at George Mason University.
Hendler joined Rensselaer in 2007 as the Tetherless World Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science after over two decades as a professor at the University of Maryland, where he served as director of the Joint Institute for Knowledge Discovery and co-director of the Maryland Information and Network Dynamics (MIND) Laboratory.
His research seeks to expand the utility of the World Wide Web. He is widely recognized as one of the early innovators of the Semantic Web, an extension of the World Wide Web that enables computers to better interpret the meaning and context of words and numbers. This technology could be used to bring informative databases — from Internet business to basic biology research — to the Web in more searchable and usable ways, according to Hendler.
Hendler received a bachelor’s in computer science and artificial intelligence from Yale University, a master’s in cognitive psychology and human factors engineering from Southern Methodist University, and a master’s and doctorate in computer science and artificial intelligence from Brown University.
He is a fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the British Computer Society, the IEEE, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In 2002, Hendler was awarded a U.S. Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Medal. He is the first computer scientist to serve on the board of reviewing editors for Science and in 2010 he was named one of the 20 most innovative professors in America by Playboy magazine. Hendler also serves as an “Internet Web Expert” for the U.S. government, providing guidance to the Data.gov project.