David E. Eisenstat, a computer science senior at the University of Rochester, has been named this year's Outstanding Male Undergraduate by the Computing Research Association in one of the most prestigious national competitions in computer science. Eisenstat beat out nearly 100 other students who were chosen as the best from their institutions.
His excellent grades and his published professional research papers in two completely different areas of computer scienceŚa rare achievement for an undergraduateŚwon him the $1,000 award.
"David is an exceptional student," says Mitsunori Ogihara, chair of the Department of Computer Science. "He aced every single course in our program and has already begun his research publishing career. We are very proud of him."
Eisenstat has done important research in both theoretical computer science and mathematics. At Rochester, he has worked on a range of deep problems in the areas of parallel computing, distributed computing, and computational complexity. Eisenstat has participated in the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduate program for two summers, doing mathematical work in the areas of combinatorics and graph theory. This has led to several papers currently under review. In his computer science and mathematics work, Eisenstat is a prime innovator, doing work that is clearly the equal of a good graduate student, says Ogihara.
"Winning the CRA award is a great feeling," says Eisenstat, who grew up in New Haven, Conn. "I've wanted to do computer science from the beginning, so I applied only to schools with well-regarded computer science departments. I felt very much at home during my visit to Rochester, and that was the deciding factor. The computer science department here is relatively small, so I've had the opportunity to work with several excellent faculty and graduate students in a research context. The computer science and mathematics courses I've taken prepared me well for this."
In addition to being an excellent theoretician, Eisenstat is a skilled programmer and has a near-perfect GPA. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior and is president of the student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery chapter. His computer science interests are complemented with a keen interest in choral singing, as well as music theory and composition.
"I've sung bass in several vocal ensembles here at Rochester," says Eisenstat. "For two years, I lived on the Music Interest Floor, whose residents cook and serve an annual Thanksgiving meal for themselves and alumni of the floor. After eating, a group of us would inevitably find a nice, resonant stairwell and sing barbershop pieces."
The Computing Research Association is a nonprofit organization whose members are nearly all the doctorate-granting computer science departments in the United States and Canada. Each member institution nominates its best male and female students, and a single male and female award is given.
The award will be presented at CRA's Conference at Snowbird, Utah, on June 25, 2006. The two first-prize winners receive financial assistance toward their travel to the conference. Eisenstat will begin graduate work at Princeton University this fall.