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​Michael Smith ’83

Michael Smith ’83
John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, 
Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor

A member of the Faculty at Harvard University since 1992, Smith began his academic career pursuing innovative work on computing systems, particularly on issues involving a detailed knowledge of both the hardware and software in these sophisticated systems. His research interests included dynamic optimization, machine-specific and profile-driven compilation, high-performance computer architecture, and practical applications of security. This work helped Smith co-found the data security company Liquid Machines Inc. in 2001.

Liquid Machines' enterprise rights management products gave companies the ability to easily control and manage access to valuable documents and other digital assets. In June 2010, Liquid Machines was acquired by Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., an Israeli Internet and data security company best known for its ZoneAlarm firewall software.

Beginning in July 2007, Smith put his research interests aside to lead Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences. During his 11 years in the dean’s office, his leadership was characterized by a deep commitment to undergraduate teaching, to a tenure-track system, and to research, both fundamental and applied.

Smith is currently on sabbatical leave, during which he plans to explore a range of interdisciplinary activities that involve the interplay of technology with other fields, from the life sciences to business to education.

Smith received a B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University in 1983, an M.S. in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1985, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1993. He began at Harvard in 1992 as an instructor and rose through the tenure-track ranks. In 1994 he received a prestigious National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award, and in 1999 the Alpha Iota Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

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