Press release
December 10, 2013

UC Irvine professors honored by ACM for transforming science and society

Rina Dechter and Padhraic Smyth named 2013 ACM Fellows; André van der Hoek named 2013 ACM Distinguished Scientist

Irvine, Calif., Dec. 10, 2013 — The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, has announced three faculty members from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences at UC Irvine have earned prestigious honors.

Computer science professors Rina Dechter and Padhraic Smyth have been named 2013 ACM Fellows. Informatics professor André van der Hoek has been named a 2013 ACM Distinguished Member.

Established in 1993, the ACM Fellows Program recognizes the top members of the association for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology. This year, only 50 of ACM’s more than 100,000 members worldwide were named fellows. The total number of fellows in the association is limited to 1 percent of its members.

“We recognize these scientists and engineers, creators and builders, theorists and practitioners who are making a difference in our lives,” said ACM President Vinton G. Cerf. “They’re enabling us to listen, learn, calculate, and communicate in ways that underscore the benefits of the digital age.”

Dechter earned her fellowship for contributions to the algorithmic foundations of automated reasoning with constraint-based and probabilistic information. She is the author of the book Constraint Processing (2003) and has authored more than 150 papers. She was awarded the Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1991; has been a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) since 1994; was a Radcliffe Fellow in 2005-2006; and received the 2007 Association for Constraint Programming (ACP) Research Excellence Award. She has been co-editor in chief of the journal Artificial Intelligence since 2011.

Smyth was honored for his contributions to probabilistic and statistical approaches to data mining and machine learning. He is the director of the Center for Machine Learning and Intelligent Systems at UCI and has published more than 150 papers. He received the ACM Special Interest Group on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (SIGKDD) Innovation Award in 2009 and was named AAAI Fellow in 2010. He is co-author of Modeling the Internet and the Web: Probabilistic Methods and Algorithms (2003) and Principles of Data Mining (2001).

The ACM Distinguished Member Recognition Program recognizes ACM members with at least 15 years of professional experience and five years of continuous professional membership who have achieved significant accomplishments or have made a significant impact on the computing field. This recognition is intended for the top 10 percent of Association members. ACM president Cerf described the recipients as “the problem solvers, prophets, and producers who are powering the future of the digital age. They demonstrate the advantages of ACM membership, which empowers self-improvement and inspires a bold vision for their own careers as well as their impact on the future.”

Van der Hoek, who was named a 2013 ACM Distinguished Scientist, serves as chair of the Department of Informatics at the Bren School. He heads the Software Design and Collaboration Laboratory, which focuses on understanding and advancing the roles of design, collaboration and education in software development. He has authored and co-authored more than 100 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications; in 2006 he received an ACM Special Interest Group on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) Distinguished Paper Award. He is the principal designer of the B.S. in informatics degree program at UCI and in 2005 was honored as UC Irvine Professor of the Year for his outstanding and innovative educational contributions.

About the UC Irvine Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences: As the only computing-focused school in the University of California system, the Bren School is providing computer science and information technology leadership for the 21st century through its innovative and broad curricula, research and development of emerging technologies, and collaborations to address societal concerns. For more information, visit:

About the University of California, Irvine: Located in coastal Orange County, near a thriving employment hub in one of the nation’s safest cities, UC Irvine was founded in 1965. One of only 62 members of the Association of American Universities, it’s ranked first among U.S. universities under 50 years old by the London-based Times Higher Education. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UC Irvine has more than 28,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $4.3 billion annually to the local economy.

Rizza Barnes
Director of Communications
Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences
University of California, Irvine

Media interested in interviewing ICS faculty, students or alumni should contact Matt Miller at (949) 824-1562 or via email at