Dad photo

Dad photo

In Memory

A living site in memory of Ashok K Chandra to remember and honor him. A man with a golden heart and an extraordinary mind. A cherished father, husband, and friend. And a doting grandfather. He left us November 15, 2014 after a brave battle with cancer.

The site features the sentiments and memories shared by friends and family. Feel free to send this site to others. We will keep adding to it; if you have something you’d like to share, please click here to send it to me.

Click below to see a category of posts such as Remembrances or Talks from the memorial event. See pictures of Ashok.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Summary: Accomplishments

Shared by: Ted Selker, Neel Sundaresan. Sanjiv Sahay, Dinesh

(also see: Summary of Accomplishments by Prabakhar Raghavan)

Ashok came to Almaden in October of 1993.  The Computer science department had many long term projects that hadn't been particularly productive and some that had.

He worked tirelessly to treat people well as he reformed the department into a powerhouse that had impact on IBM's  Database , continued impact on check processing, invented the linked concept ideas in Cleaver ideas that google used (in Myron Dom's group  headed by John Klienberg ) USER proposed and prototyped, tools that helped explore intelligent searchon the Web createdthe first p3p protocol for w3c, created many tools for web offerings for IBM, created the ibm agents center of competence, made the os2 disabilities package, made smartguides the help system for Os/2, many profitable  innovations for the Thinkpad,  many innovations for the PC line,  created shapewriter, interactive displays, blueeyes eyetracking, the memory hierarchy model, The group created webfountain which was a profetic websearch system, hardware and firmware to improve disk drives. the productiveity of the CS group produced several IBM fellows as well.


His early work on "Program Schemas" was central to computer science theory in the 1970s. His advisor, Zohar Manna, is still at Stanford. (Ashok was only the 2nd student of Zohar Manna who then was a young assistant professor). His paper on Program Schemas is considered to be one of the most beautifully written theory papers.

Ashok introduced the notion of Turing Machine Alternation. He is considered to be the co-inventor of this concept (along with another famous theorist Larry Stockmeyer). Here is a link to the original abstract from IEEE. (
Alternatiing Turing Machines (here is a wikipedia entry for the concept

The concept of ATM is fundamental to computational complexity in time and space and to parallel processing theory. This might quite be one of the most cited research works in theoretical computer science.
In the next decade Ashok came up with the idea of "Multi-party protocols" along with Richard Lipton and Merrick Furst. This is fundamental to a number of modern algorithms and theories in cryptography.

One area worth mentioning regarding his research management is the "eraser-head mouse" for IBM laptops/thinkpads. Ted Selker is counted as the inventor of this work which made both Ted and IBM quite famous. Ted will be able to say a lot about how Ashok helped him as a manager with this key contribution to the area of hardware.

As for Patents, the best place to find them is at the USPTO ( I did a search and found 4 issued ones. His early patents in the late 1970s is related to magnetic bubble memory in which they invent a method for layout of access channel file. I don't know much about this (memory systems are a very different beast these days but this must have been key to IBM which ruled the magnetic memory space 30+ years ago).
His latest patent is in Search which likely all of us understand well. This one talks about integrating social network data into search results. The general idea is once you know the searcher's social network information it provides a method to incorporate that information into web search that the user might do.
From: IIT - through 1997

Ashok Kumar Chandra (BT/EE/1969) 

For Outstanding Contributions in Computer Science Research.
Dr Ashok Chandra is one of the most respected persons in the world of computer science research. Personally he is known for several path breaking concepts and results, some of which are now text book material (e.g. the nation of alteration). What possibly is unique about is achievements, in the context of computer science research, is that he has done fundamental work basing himself in an industry. He has demonstrated that it is possible to do research which is excellent both in academic standard, as well as in the standard of industry. His organization has found him to be very valuable, he has made several contributions which have been of immense benefit to IBM; and at the same time, his work has put him amongst the very top people in the theoretical computer science, usually considered an abstract area far from practice. 

Dr Chandra graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 1969 earning Bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering. He was the winner of the prestigious President’s Gold Medal. Subsequently, he obtained the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Sciences from the Stanford University in 1973. Since than, he has been with IBM, currently he is a Director of that organization. 

Dr Chandra has rendered very valuable service to the profession through his professional activities. He has been the editor of an important journal (SIAM J of Computing), was responsible for starting what is now a very prestigious annual conferences (IEEE Symposium on Logic in Computer Science), has chaired on several occasions the programme, committees/conference committees of top conferences. Further, he is a member of Board of Directors of Computer Research Association, a body which acts as a liaison between the US Government and PhD granting computer science departments in USA. For granting computer scientists, in India his contributions as a member of the Advisory Committee of the Annual Conference on Foundations of Software Technology and Theoretical Computer Science Conference has immensely helped in attaining the international repute that is enjoyed today. 

Dr Chandra has always been very supportive to the Computer Science and Engineering Department of IITK and has visited the department on several occasions. The CSE faculty and students have always found him to be a source of inspiration and help. 

Dr Ashok Chandra is nominated for the Distinguished Alumnus Award of the Indian Institute of Technology for the outstanding contributions made in the Computer Science Research and realization of the fact that in these days of painful transition, when doubts are often raised whether IITK can keep up its motto of excellence in the face of the compulsions imposed by the new economy, by reminding ourselves through highlighting the achievements of Dr Chandra which prove beyond doubt that excellence can indeed be coupled with relevance.

From Microsoft Research

Dr. Ashok Chandra is General Manager of ISRC Incubations in Microsoft Research in Mountain View, CA. Earlier, as director IBM’s Almaden Research Center, Computer Science, he managed a world class team of about two hundred researchers who made major advances in CS theory, databases, multimedia and user interfaces; and also built major products for IBM, including the new database system (DB2 UDB), the Trackpoint device in IBM’s Thinkpad laptops, and storage management products. He also established a major center in Human Computer Interaction at Almaden. Between IBM and his current job, he was the Sr. V.P. for R&D at Verity, with responsibility for all products, and was responsible for starting a research division. He also served as CEO of a startup in software lifecycle management.
His personal research career spans many areas in Computer Science where he has made seminal contributions spanning over 60 published papers, including the invention of Alternation (in complexity theory), Computable Queries and Conjunctive Queries (in database research), self-testing chips that check themselves, the use of symbolic execution to find design flaws in processor designs, and more. Ashok is an IEEE fellow. He founded the Bay Area Research Directors council (BARD) of CTOs and Research Directors of top Silicon Valley companies. He served as chairman of numerous IEEE and ACM conferences, and founded the IEEE LICS conference. And, he was influential in setting up IBM’s Research Center at IIT Delhi in 1998. More recently, he has founded ICORE to help raise the level of research in India. He received his PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University, an MS from U.C. Berkeley, and a B. Tech. from IIT Kanpur in India, where he was awarded the prestigious President’s Gold Medal, and subsequently, the Distinguished Alumni Award.
He has a wife and two children, enjoys hiking, skiing, tennis, table tennis, bridge, and visiting new locations.
About four and a half years ago, I was managing a project where Microsoft was mentioned, and I spoke of Ashok's name. The CTO on my team excitedly jumped at that--that he was a huge fan of Ashok Chandra. Considering that the CTO had never met Ashok, I asked "why?" And he educated me of Ashok's achievements. One of them was the Red Tracking button on most laptop keyboards (especially IBM) of early years. Till then, I didn't know that Ashok was the patent holding brain behind it. Many months later when I relayed this story to Ashok, he just smiled and shrugged his shoulders with the modesty we all have come to know.