Alumni Profiles

Alumni of Illinois computer science are truly amazing.  They form the foundations of the IT economy, create technologies that change the way computing affects our lives, and lead the way in acdemia, labs, and industry.

Meet just a few of our alumni:

Ray Ozzie

Ray Ozzie, an industry visionary and pioneer in computer-supported cooperative work, is Microsoft's chief software architect. In his role as CSA Ozzie is responsible for oversight of the company's technical strategy and product architecture, and is also directing development of the company's next-generation software services platform.

Ozzie was first exposed to the nature and significance of collaborative systems and computer-supported cooperative work while working on the university's seminal PLATO project. This work significantly influenced his perspective on collaborative systems and the projects he has undertaken throughout his career. 

Max Levchin

Max Levchin the CEO and visionary behind Slide, the largest social entertainment company in the world and developer of the most engaging applications on social networks. Max is also renowned as the co-founder of PayPal, an expert in combating online fraud and one of the hardest working entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Before starting Slide, he incubated several other start-ups, including Yelp, where he currently sits as Chairman of the Board. Max started PayPal in 1998, took the company public in 2002 and then sold it to eBay for more than $1.5 billion at the age of 26. Originally from Kiev, Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), Max moved to Chicago at the age of 16 and later received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Max sits on the board of several other companies.

Andrew Yao

Andrew Yao received the Turing Award, the most prestigious award in computer science, in 2000, "in recognition of his fundamental contributions to the theory of computation, including the complexity-based theory of pseudorandom number generation, cryptography, and communication complexity".  Yao used the minimax theorem to prove what is now known as Yao's Principle.  The principle states that the expected cost of any randomized algorithm for solving a given problem can be no better than the expected cost of the deterministic algorithm that performs best against that distribution.

Jawed Karim

Jawed Karim is the co-founder of the popular video sharing website YouTube. YouTube is the 3rd most-popular website in the world and one of the fastest-growing websites in the history of the Internet. Prior to YouTube, Jawed worked as an early employee of PayPal, where he designed and implemented many of the core components of PayPal, including its real-time anti-fraud system.  Jawed launed Youniversity Ventures to help talented teams with innovative products to take the next step with mentorship, expertise, contacts, and access to capital. Youniversity Ventures focuses on the internet consumer space and works primarily with students and first-time entrepreneurs.

Lynn Reedy

As the Senior VP of Product, Development and Architecture at eBay, the number one consumer e-commerce site in the world, Lynn Reedy was responsible for all of the initiatives that pertained to the company's work in software development, product specification, user interface design, usability testing, architecture and release management. Lynn earned her B.S. in mathematics and computer science from the University of Illinois in 1977 and her MBA from Santa Clara University in 1991.

Dan Atkins

Dan Atkins is the Kellogg Professor of Community Information in the School of Information and is a professor in the Division of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan. He has developed high-speed arithmetic algorithms now widely used in the computer industry, conducted pioneering work on special-purpose architecture including collaboration with the Mayo Clinic on development of computer-assisted tomography (CAT), and chaired the committee at Michigan that developed one of the earliest computer engineering undergraduate degree programs.  He recently served as the Director of the Office of Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation.

Scott Banister

Scott Banister is a pioneer in the email business, and started his career as Founder and Vice President of Technology at ListBot - the largest ASP for business email list hosting. After ListBot was acquired by Microsoft, he founded eVoice (creator of the first email-enabled home voicemail service), which was acquired by AOL in 2001. Banister was Vice President of Ideas at idealab!, where he contributed numerous innovations, including the unique bid-for-placement search engine model that powers Overture. His latest venture, Iron Port, was sold to Cisco for $830 million.

Steven S. Chen

Steven S. Chen made a huge mark on the history of Cray Research, Inc. in the 1980’s when he led his team to develop the Cray X-MP and Y-MP, two of the most influential super parallel vector supercomputers.  He is currently the founder and Chief Scientist of Hcom Technology, where he is focused on building high productivity grid supercomputers that deliver pervasive, high-quality and cost-effective digital healthcare, education, media, logistics, commerce, and financial services in China.

Rick Schell

Rick Schell has been at the forefront of major technology business transformations for more than thirty years.  As the founding VP of Engineering for Netscape, Rick was responsible for taking the company from start-up to the first major commercial Internet success. Currently a Venture Partner at Onset Ventures, he was most recently at NetIQ where he was Chief Technologist and Senior Vice President for product planning, strategy and process. Before NetIQ, he founded internet start-up, iSharp.

Jeff Holden

Jeff Holden is the co-founder and CEO of Pelago. He started the company in January 2006 with a vision of developing innovative products that bring the power of online information to life in the physical world. Before Pelago, Holden spent 8 1/2 years at in a myriad of roles. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Consumer Websites, Worldwide, where he oversaw the end-to-end consumer experience including search, navigation, personalization, social computing, ordering, merchandising and automated email. He was also responsible for Amazon’s online traffic initiatives, including the Amazon Associates program, search engine optimization and search engine advertising.

Russel Simmons

Russel Simmons has been interested in computer programming since he was about seven years old. He says that that it was a "no brainer" that he went into computer science. After receiving his bachelor's in computer science from Illinois in 1998, Simmons stayed at Illinois for graduate school for a semester, until he was invited by Max Levchin to help start Confinity. He remained at the company, which eventually turned into PayPal as the lead software architect for about four years.  He joined fellow UI and PayPal alumnus Jeremy Stoppleman to start Yelp!, a forum for users to share insights about local businesses that they like, love, dislike, or hate.

Sohaib Abbasi

Sohaib Abbasi and his wife, Sara, established the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Professorship to enable the CS department to maintain its stature as one of the nation's premiere departments and give students the opportunity to learn from a world-renown computer scientist and educator. They have also endowed the Sohaib and Sara Abbasi Fellowship.  Sohaib Abbasi is the president and chief executive office of Informatica Corporation, a leading provider of data integration software. He had been with Oracle Corporation for 22 years beginning in 1982. When he left, he was senior vice president of two major divisions, Oracle Tools and Oracle Education.

Linda Mills

Linda Mills leads the $4 billion IT sector for Northrop Grumman.  As president of the IT sector, Mills leads a premier provider of advanced information technology, engineering, and business solutions for domestic and international government clients, with sales of approximately $4 billion and approximately 18,500 people worldwide. She was honored as one of Profiles in Diversity Journal's "Women Worth Watching in 2007" for her leadership achievements.

Jerry Fiddler

Jerry Fiddler is founder and member of the board of Wind River.  Since its establishment in 1981 in a Berkeley garage, Wind River has grown to become the leading provider of embedded software worldwide. Fiddler sits on several corporate boards, including Tensilica, Axis, Crossbow and Nanochip, and is Chairman of the Board at Solazyme. 

Mike Kulas

Mike Kulas has been working in the game industry since 1981. Throughout the 80’s he worked for Sublogic and BAO on numerous versions of Flight Simulator and related products. He worked briefly for LookingGlass Technologies before cofounding Parallax Software with Matt Toschlog in 1993. In 1996 Mike founded Volition as a spinoff of Parallax Software.  Volition makes popular titles including Saints Row, The Punisher, and Red Faction.

Zao Yang

Sizhao “Zao” Yang was the CEO and co-founder of MyMiniLife.  MyMiniLife allows users to express their physical life on the web by creating virtual homes.  Zao co-created the popular Facebook game Farmville from MyMiniLife technology. Farmville has 80 million monthly active users and won best social games at DICE, GDC, and the crunchies. Zao recently started a new company, BetterWorks

Gordon Stewart

Gordon Stewart, vice president of Northrop Grumman Corporation's Laser Systems programs, oversees all laser systems programs within the company's Land Forces Division. Stewart has responsibility for a program that is at the forefront of applied laser and electro-optics technology for military use. The group is a leader in state-of-the-art military electro-optical equipment, with achievements such as the development of airborne laser target designators for precision munitions delivery.