Letter from the Founding Director

Welcome to the Hariri Institute!

Computing has revolutionized the world we live in and has become the foundation of all future innovation. Today, the most versatile tool in our society, the computer, is so effectively integrated in the fabric of our daily lives that we forget to notice its existence and impact.  As impressive as the pervasive use of computers and information systems in our society has been, the real impact of computing lies in its potential to change how we look at the world around us. The “computational lens” is transforming virtually every area of intellectual endeavor, making us question – and push – existing limits to find the “next big thing.”

With the emergence of data as a currency of research and with the transformative impact of the computational lens on almost every discipline, the Hariri Institute is uniquely positioned to play an effective role at the crossroad of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research at Boston University. Recognizing the needs at this crossroad, the Institute invests its resources in seed funding and incubation of high-risk, high-reward projects through its research awards program, and in developing professional-grade software artifacts through its Software & Application Innovation Lab (SAIL).

These investments have paid handsomely as exemplified by many of our flagship projects, including the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC), the Modular Approach to Cloud Security (MACS), and the Smart-city Cloud-based Open Platform and Ecosystem (SCOPE) projects; as well as enabling brand new successful collaborations across traditionally distant fields, connecting political science with network analysis, emerging media with machine learning, marketing and data mining, and mechanical engineering with operating systems. The Institute has also been a catalyst for securing significant industrial support of faculty research, as exemplified by on-going partnerships with Red Hat, Inc. and the Honda Research Institute.

Supporting activities at all stages of the research pipeline, the Institute leverages past successes and robust partnerships to secure funding and promote BU’s position as a leading research institution. Major Institute projects have already resulted in computational platforms in support of applications of significant importance to society, such as privacy-preserving pay-equity analytics for the City of Boston.

Additionally, the Institute energizes the ecosystem of computing research at BU by supporting undergraduate and graduate student research and entrepreneurship programs, and by organizing community-building events ranging from small round-table and seminar series to large workshops and regional symposia.

Externally, the Institute leads a number of multi-university, multi-sector collaborations that involve  significant buy-in from industrial partners; and engages with policymakers and funding agencies to showcase BU’s leadership in computational and data-driven research.

As the Institute reaches its sixth year on the BU landscape, I encourage you to explore our 2017 Hariri Institute Annual Report to learn more about our exciting initiatives, and hopefully to work with us on finding new and innovative ways to fulfill our mission of “leveraging the computational perspective in a data-driven world for a better society.”

Azer Bestavros
Warren Distinguished Professor, Department of Computer Science (CAS)
Associate Provost, Computing & Data Sciences
Founding Director, Hariri Institute for Computing