Azer Bestavros is the Inaugural Associate Provost for Computing & Data Sciences at Boston University and the William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor in the Computer Science Department, which he joined in 1991 and chaired from 2000 to 2007.
Prior to his appointment in 2019 to lead the Faculty of Computing & Data Sciences, he was the Founding Director of the Hariri Institute for Computing, set up in 2010 to nucleate "a community of scholars who believe in the transformative potential of computational perspectives." In that capacity, he led major university initiatives, including chairing the Data Science Initiative launched in 2014 to "leverage BU’s strength and expand its capacity to lead in the Big Data revolution", co-chairing the Data Science Task Force charged in 2018 with development of "a vision that further advances BU as a research and education leader in computing and data sciences", co-chairing the Council on Educational Technology & Learning Innovation tasked in 2012 with "development of BU's strategy for leveraging on-line technology in residential programs", and leading BU's role in the conception of the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center and advancing its research, education, and outreach mission since 2010.
Specializing in networking, distributed systems, and trustworthy computing research, Azer made seminal contributions to studies of web push caching through content distribution networks, self-similar Internet traffic characterization, game-theoretic cloud resource management, and safety certification of networked systems and software. His currently active projects are focused on design, development, and real-world deployment of Scalable Secure Multi-Party Computation in support of privacy-preserving analytics. As of 2019, funded by over $40M from government and industry sponsors, his research yielded 19 PhD theses, 8 patents, 2 startups, and hundreds of refereed papers with over 23,000 citations.
Praised by students for his engaging teaching style and his use of memorable analogies, Azer is recognized for his signature CS-350 course, which he developed in the mid 1990s and taught for over 25 years. A nationally-unique course, CS-350 covers fundamental concepts, which underlie the design and implementation of all types of computing systems, and yet are immune to technological churn. Azer is also credited for many other innovative curricular contributions, most notably his conception of CS-109, a course that introduces non-majors to the "art and science" of quantitative and computational thinking.
Azer has a long track record of service to the computing community. Most recently, he chaired the 2019 and co-chaired the 2014 NSF/CISE Committee of Visitors charged by NSF to evaluate the portfolio and review processes of the CISE Directorate; served on the inaugural advisory board of the Cloud Computing Caucus set up in 2013 to raise public awareness and educate lawmakers on cloud technologies; and served for seven years until 2012 as chair of the IEEE Computer Society TC on the Internet. He is currently on the editorial board of Communications of the ACM as co-editor of its Research Highlights, which publishes the most-influential articles in CS. He is frequently tapped for plenary presentations, federal and local government agency briefings, and media coverage related to contemporary issues at the nexus of computing, society, and public policy.
In recognition of distinguished teaching, research, and service, Azer received a number of awards, most notably the ACM Sigmetrics Inaugural Test of Time Award for 1996 work "whose impact is still felt 15 years after its initial publication" and the 2010 United Methodist Scholar Teacher Award for "outstanding dedication and contributions to the learning arts and to the institution." In 2017, he was named a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, the highest distinction bestowed upon senior faculty members at BU for “representing our community with distinction, enriching the academic experience for our students, and raising our stature as a major research university.”
A native of Alexandria, Egypt, and a resident of Wayland, Massachusetts, Azer held visiting appointments at Harvard University, Institut Eurecom in Sophia Antipolis (France), Deutsche Telekom in Berlin (Germany), Telefonica Research in Barcelona (Spain), KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm (Sweden), American University in Cairo (Egypt), and American University in Beirut (Lebanon). He obtained his B.Sc. (1984) and M.Sc. (1987) in Computer Science from Alexandria University, and his A.M. (1988) and PhD (1992) in Computer Science from Harvard University, under Thomas E. Cheatham, one of the "roots" of the academic genealogy of applied computer scientists.