Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha
B.Tech., 1990, Computer Science & Engineering

Dr. Dharmendra S. Modha is an IBM Fellow and also a Chief Scientist, Brain-inspired Computing at IBM. Dr. Modha is a cognitive computing pioneer who envisioned and now leads a highly successful effort to develop brain-inspired computers. The groundbreaking project, SyNAPSE, funded by DARPA to the tune of $53.3M, is multi-disciplinary, spanning over several countries and involving many institutions, and has made a worldwide scientific impact. Its revolutionary non-von Neumann computing architecture and ecosystem break from the prevailing von Neumann paradigm and constitute a foundation for new classes of ultra-low power, compact, real-time, multi-modal sensorimotor information technology systems. Dr. Modha has also made significant contributions to IBM businesses via innovations in caching mechanisms for storage controllers, clustering algorithms for services and coding theory for disk drives.

Dr. Modha has primarily been associated with IBM but only few people know that he has also been an entrepreneur for a brief period. In the year 1990-1991 he started a company S.O.L.U.T.I.O.N.S in Mumbai which was an instant success. After his Ph.D., though he joined IBM in 1997 as a research staff member, he left the organization in 2000 to start his own company Treelet, Inc. in Silicon Valley. The company somehow couldn’t garner positive feedback and was unsuccessful. Dr. Modha joined IBM back in 2002 and since then there has been no looking back for him. Over the years he has worked with IBM at various levels and won accolades for his commendable work, from all quarters.

Dr. Modha did his B.Tech. in Computer Science and Engineering in the year 1990 from IIT Bombay and went on to pursue his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of California, San Diego, United States. He has been recipient of many awards and honors which include IBM’s Outstanding Innovation Award 2004 and IBM’s Pat Goldberg Best Paper Award in Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Mathematics in 2010; ACM Gordon Bell Prize in 2009; Washington Posts’s Best Innovation Moments 2011; EE Times 40th Anniversary – 10 electronics visionaries to watch 2012; and the USENIX Test of Time Award in 2014, to mention prominent ones. He was also a Runner-up for 2014 ‘Breakthrough of the year’ by Science Magazine.

In December 2014, Dr. Modha received a thank you note from the American President Mr. Barack Obama. He has been featured in a large number of articles in reputed publications like the Science, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Bloomberg, Forbees, MIT Technology Review, Business Week, The Guardian and many more.

Dr. Modha’s pastimes include reading about creativity and global economy. He is also a health freak and regularly practices Yoga.

Special Memories

Working late nights in CSE, tutoring first-year programming course of J.R. Issac, evening walks at the lakes, my batch mates in CSE, Prof. Shivashankar and Prof. Phatak are some special people and memories that I cherish about IIT Bombay.