Following is the tribute I paid to my PhD advisor, Ken Kennedy, at the dinner of the special Workshop at Rice on December 7, 2007 organized in his memory.
First, I would like to thank CITI (or should I say KITI or KII?) for organizing this workshop and giving all of us a chance to speak a few words about Ken.
We have heard many people talk about Ken's unquestionable contributions and legacy in compilers, high performance computing, computer sciences, and sciences, in general. But I would like to talk about something else. I am an introverted person by nature. So, it was quite an effort for me to volunteer to take the microphone. However, with the depth of my feelings about Ken ... this was the least I could do. Being introverted also means that I don't have any stories to tell of my first meeting with him. It takes me some time to warm up to people. Instead, I would like to share with you what happened on my last day at Rice.
On my last day at Rice I met with Ken. I said to him, “Ken, I have the deepest respect for you. I say this with utmost sincerity. I consider you my role model.” Ken smiled. By now he knew that I was going to join an academic position. Ken smiled and said, “I will let you in on a secret. Always keep your students' interest at the top.” I think this was the best advice that I could have received. Ken was a great advisor and mentor, and that is what I wanted to highlight.
I would like to share a little secret of my own with you. I shared Ken's passion for computer sciences. But there is another passion that I shared with him and that is running. It used to happen very often that while jogging around the campus I would run into Ken and Carol running around the campus. Of course, I never dared to join them. Ken once told me that his doctor wanted him to stop running because of his knee problem, but he was passionate about running and was not going to give it up so easily. Typical Ken!
I do feel a bit weird talking about running today. Because earlier this evening Chen beat me in a run around the campus, by a wide margin. In my defense I would say that I was wearing inappropriate shoes and I did run a longer distance than Chen. May be I am the slow and steady kind. May be I take longer, but go a long way. May be if I keep at it I will be able to reach a fraction of the heights that Ken did.