Message from the Founding Director

Welcome to the Hariri Institute!

Azer Bestavros

Azer Bestavros, Director

Real-life applications of computing have revolutionized the world we live in and constitute the foundation of our future innovations. The modern computer is the most versatile tool in our society, so effectively integrated in the fabric of our daily lives that we forget to notice its impact and scope. 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.” No matter the field – life, physical, and social sciences, medicine, engineering, management, education, communication, and the humanities – rapid advances in computational and data-driven techniques empower the community of scholars who advance our collective knowledge.

The transformative potential of the computational lens raises the question of how to most effectively foster and intensify synergies in computational research and education in a university setting. Thanks to a generous gift from alumnus and University trustee Bahaa Hariri, Boston University, which has been at the leading edge of computational science for the past 25 years, has taken this challenge head on, establishing the setting for a community of scholars who believe in the transformative potential of computational perspectives in research and education: the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering.

In the three years since its April 2012 inauguration, the Hariri Institute has embraced both its mission of initiating, catalyzing, and propelling collaborative, interdisciplinary research and training initiatives for the betterment of society and its leading role in university research as an incubator for new ideas into achievements that could not have been imagined even a few years ago:

  • energizing a vibrant community of scholars by connecting junior and senior fellows and attracting distinguished visiting fellows from academia and industry;
  • seeding collaborations that promise to transform entire disciplines, from business to art history, and from precision medicine to smart-city applications;
  • funding translational research that has led to patent-pending software certification technology and $1M in investments from major research laboratories;
  • incubating a visionary project that has matured in less than three years into a $30M regional initiative anchored at BU to revolutionize both the technology and business of cloud computing;
  • leading multi-university collaborations at national scale as exemplified by a $10M NSF Frontier project on cloud cybersecurity that positions BU as a leader in this critically important area of R&D;
  • continued research funding in excess of $18M for Institute-led projects and in excess of $60M for sponsored research by affiliated faculty for 2014;
  • exploring new connections by presenting a coherent, integrated view of computing at BU and by connecting researchers and projects with prospective industrial partners both nationally and internationally;
  • leading BU’s Data Science Initiative to strengthen and grow the base of talented faculty who conduct research in core data-science fields;
  • hosting BU’s Digital Learning Initiative to leverage on-line educational technologies in a residential setting;
  • and commanding major media coverage, not only of the research findings of its fellows, but also on the fresh model of academic research that it puts forth.

To learn more about our exciting initiatives, I encourage you to view our recent highlights.

I invite you to join the Hariri Institute community and I look forward to hearing from you as to how you may be able to leverage the Institute’s resources to flesh out your best ideas for computational and data-driven research and activities at Boston University.

Azer Bestavros
Founding Director

September 2015