John Hennessy
Hennessy at Stanford, June 2007
10th President of Stanford University
In office
September 1, 2000[1] – August 31, 2016[2]
Preceded byGerhard Casper
Succeeded byMarc Tessier-Lavigne
11th Provost of Stanford University
In office
July 1999 – September 2000
Preceded byCondoleezza Rice
Succeeded byJohn Etchemendy
Personal details
John Leroy Hennessy

(1952-09-22) September 22, 1952 (age 71)
Huntington, New York, U.S.
Alma mater
Known forReduced instruction set computer
MIPS Technologies
Scientific career
FieldsComputer architecture[5]
ThesisA real-time language for small processors: design, definition and implementation (1977)
Doctoral advisorRichard Kieburtz
Doctoral students

John Leroy Hennessy (born September 22, 1952) is an American computer scientist who serves as chairman of Alphabet Inc. (Google).[8] Hennessy is one of the founders of MIPS Technologies and Atheros while also serving as the tenth President of Stanford University. Hennessy announced that he would step down in the summer of 2016. He was succeeded as president by Marc Tessier-Lavigne.[9] Marc Andreessen called him "the godfather of Silicon Valley."[10]

Along with David Patterson, Hennessy was a recipient of the 2017 Turing Award for their work in developing the reduced instruction set computer (RISC) architecture, which is now used in 99% of new computer chips.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17]

Early life and education

Hennessy was raised in Huntington, New York, as one of six children.[10] His father was an aerospace engineer, and his mother was a teacher before raising her children.[10] He is of Irish-Catholic descent, with some of his ancestors arriving in America during the potato famine in the 19th century. [18]

He earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Villanova University, and his master's degree and Doctor of Philosophy in computer science from Stony Brook University.[6][19][20]

Career and research

Hennessy became a Stanford faculty member in 1977. In 1981, he began the MIPS project to investigate RISC processors, and in 1984, he used his sabbatical year to found MIPS Computer Systems Inc. to commercialize the technology developed by his research. In 1987, he became the Willard and Inez Kerr Bell Endowed Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.[20]

Hennessy served as director of Stanford's Computer System Laboratory (1989–93), a research center run by Stanford's Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments. He was chair of the Department of Computer Science (1994–96) and Dean of the School of Engineering (1996–99).[20]

In 1999, Stanford President Gerhard Casper appointed Hennessy to succeed Condoleezza Rice as Provost of Stanford University. When Casper stepped down to focus on teaching in 2000, the Stanford Board of Trustees named Hennessy to succeed Casper as president. In 2008, Hennessy earned a salary of $1,091,589 ($702,771 base salary, $259,592 deferred benefits, $129,226 non-tax benefits), the 23rd highest among all American university presidents.[21]

Hennessy has served as a board member of Google (later Alphabet Inc.),[22] Cisco Systems,[23] Atheros Communications,[24] and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.[25] He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2008.[26]

On October 14, 2010, Hennessy was presented a khata by the 14th Dalai Lama before the latter addressed Maples Pavilion.[27]

In December 2010, Hennessy coauthored an editorial with Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust urging the passage of the DREAM Act;[28] the legislation did not pass the 111th United States Congress.

In 2013, Hennessy became a judge for the inaugural Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. He has remained on the judging panel for the subsequent awards in 2015 and 2017.

In June 2015, Hennessy announced that he would step down as Stanford president in summer 2016.[29]

In 2016, Hennessy co-founded the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program; he serves as its inaugural director. The program has a $750 million endowment to fully fund graduate students at Stanford for up to three years.[30][31] The inaugural class of 51 scholars from 21 countries arrived at Stanford in the fall of 2018.[32]

In February 2018, Hennessy was announced as the new Chairman of Alphabet Inc., Google's parent company.[33]

Hennessy has a history of strong interest and involvement in college-level computer education. He co-authored, with David Patterson, two well-known books on computer architecture, Computer Organization and Design: the Hardware/Software Interface and Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach,[5] which introduced the DLX RISC architecture. They have been widely used as textbooks for graduate and undergraduate courses since 1990.[citation needed]

Hennessy also contributed to updating Donald Knuth's MIX processor to the MMIX. Both are model computers used in Knuth's classic series, The Art of Computer Programming. MMIX is Knuth's DLX equivalent.

Awards and honors

Selected publications

Personal life

Hennessy is married to Andrea Berti, whom he met in high school.[10]


  1. ^ Robinson, James (April 5, 2000). "Provost John L. Hennessy named Stanford's 10th president". Stanford News. Retrieved December 1, 2023.
  2. ^ Lapin, Lisa (June 21, 2016). "Stanford President-elect Marc Tessier-Lavigne is preparing to take office Sept. 1". Stanford News. Retrieved December 1, 2023.
  3. ^ "John L. Hennessy, Stanford University".
  4. ^ "John Hennessy".
  5. ^ a b c Patterson, David; Hennessy, John H.; Arpaci-Dusseau, Andrea C. (2007). Computer architecture: a quantitative approach. San Diego: Morgan Kaufmann. ISBN 978-0-12-370490-0.
  6. ^ a b c d John L. Hennessy at the Mathematics Genealogy Project Edit this at Wikidata
  7. ^ Paulson, Lawrence Charles (1981). A Compiler Generator for Semantic Grammars (PhD thesis). Stanford University. OCLC 757240716. ProQuest 303229537.
  8. ^ Haselton, Todd (2018-02-01). "John Hennessy named as Alphabet's new board chairman". CNBC. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  9. ^ "Stanford University President John L. Hennessy to step down in 2016". Stanford News. 2015-06-11. Retrieved 2016-05-16.
  10. ^ a b c d Auletta, Ken (April 30, 2012). "Get Rich U." The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 25 March 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013.
  11. ^ "Computer Chip Visionaries Win Turing Award". The New York Times. 2018-03-21.
  12. ^ John L. Hennessy, Stanford Website
  13. ^ The Secret of Silicon Valley, John Hennessy speaks at Stanford
  14. ^ Interview with John Hennessy
  15. ^ Interview with John Hennessy, concerning the video game industry (audio and text) - 2009-06-22
  16. ^ John L. Hennessey Papers
  17. ^ John Hennessy's higher learning, strategy+business interview (2019)
  18. ^ University, © Stanford; Stanford; California 94305. "John Hennessy : An Oral History". Retrieved 2023-10-20.((cite web)): CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Hennessy, John Leroy (1977). A real-time language for small processors: design, definition, and implementation (PhD thesis). State University of New York at Stony Brook. OCLC 31799595. ProQuest 302854127.
  20. ^ a b c "Curriculum Vitae". Office of the President. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  21. ^ "Million-Dollar College Presidents". The Daily Beast. November 14, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  22. ^ "Board of Directors". Google Investor Relations. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  23. ^ "Governing Board". Cisco Systems. Archived from the original on 2007-10-15. Retrieved 2006-10-25.
  24. ^ "Governing Board". Atheros Communications. Archived from the original on 2006-11-05. Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  25. ^ "Board of Trustees". Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
  26. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2021-04-28.
  27. ^ "President Hennessy salutes the Dalai Lama, and is honored in return". Stanford University Report. October 14, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  28. ^ "Deserving of the DREAM". Politico. December 8, 2010. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
  29. ^ "Stanford University President John L. Hennessy to step down in 2016". 2015-06-11.
  30. ^ Frequently Asked Questions | Knight-Hennessy Scholars Archived 2016-08-26 at the Wayback Machine Stanford, Retrieved 15 August 2016
  31. ^ Amini, Mariam (2018-03-03). "Alphabet's John Hennessy talks about helping international students with scholarships". CNBC. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  32. ^ Chang, Annie (16 Feb 2018). "Inaugural Knight-Hennessy Scholars selected". The Stanford Daily.
  33. ^ "Alphabet Names New Executive Chairman to Replace Eric Schmidt". Fortune. Retrieved 2018-02-02.
  34. ^ "IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award Recipients" (PDF). IEEE. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 24, 2010. Retrieved March 20, 2021.
  35. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  36. ^ "Jeffrey P. Bezos Biography Photo". 2001. A discussion on the future of technology at the 2001 Summit. Bezos is joined by Bell Labs President Dr. Jeong Kim, Microsoft's Dr. Charles Simonyi, Stanford President Dr. John L. Hennessy, and tech entrepreneur Dr. Kenan Sahin.
  37. ^ Przybylski, S.; Horowitz, M.; Hennessy, J. (1989). "Characteristics of performance-optimal multi-level cache hierarchies". ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News. 17 (3): 114–121. doi:10.1145/74926.74939.
  38. ^ Kuskin, J.; Horowitz, M.; Gupta, A.; Rosenblum, M.; Hennessy, J.; Ofelt, D.; Heinrich, M.; Heinlein, J.; Simoni, R.; Gharachorloo, K.; Chapin, J.; Nakahira, D.; Baxter, J. (1994). "The Stanford FLASH multiprocessor". ACM SIGARCH Computer Architecture News. 22 (2): 302–313. CiteSeerX doi:10.1145/192007.192056.
  39. ^ "John Hennessy". Computer History Museum. Archived from the original on 2012-10-03. Retrieved 2013-05-23.
  40. ^ "Stanford President Hennessy wins IEEE's highest honor". December 2011.
  41. ^ "IEEE Medal of Honor Recipients" (PDF). Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-22.
  42. ^ "John L. Hennessy elected to Royal Academy of Engineering". 2017-09-07.
  43. ^ "John Hennessy and David Patterson will receive the 2017 ACM A.M. Turing Award". Retrieved 2018-03-21.
  44. ^ BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards 2020
  45. ^ "History of the Clark Kerr Award | Academic Senate". Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  46. ^ "Recipients of the Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering".
  47. ^ "Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering".

Academic offices Preceded byCondoleezza Rice Provost of Stanford University 1999–2000 Succeeded byJohn Etchemendy Preceded byGerhard Casper President of Stanford University 2000–2016 Succeeded byMarc Tessier-Lavigne