Robert Walker

Robert Walker

Professor of Computer Science
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Robert A. Walker is a former Chair of the Kent State Computer Science Department, a strong supporter and Lifetime Distinguished Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a "serious amateur" photographer, a social media aficianado, a fan of figure skating, and Dr. Ellen Walker's husband.

Dr. Walker joined the Computer Science Department at Kent State University in 1996, where served one year as Interim Department Chair and four years as Department Chair (2006-2010). In April 2011 he became the founding Director of Kent State University's new School of Digital Sciences.

Dr. Walker's early research interests were in the field of high-level synthesis, in particular the scheduling and design space exploration problems. He wrote two dozen papers on these topics, and was the co-author of Algorithmic and Register-Transfer Level Synthesis: The System Architect's Workbench and A Survey of High-Level Synthesis Systems. Most of this work was supported by the National Science Foundation.

His more recent work has focused on novel architectures for embedded systems. Building on the KSU CS Department's historical strength in parallel computing, he and many of his students have explored the use of associative SIMD computing techniques on FPGAs, demonstrating their suitability for embedded systems running such applications as data mining, image processing, etc. With another student (now an alumnus), he is exploring techniques for improving instruction cache performance in embedded systems.


Dr. Walker received his Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University in 1988. He joined the faculty of the Computer Science Department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1989, and moved to the Computer Science Department at Kent State University in 1996.

Dr. Walker is very active in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), where he served six years as one of three Representatives from the SIG Governing Board to the ACM Council. He also serves on the ACM Council's Awards Committee as Chair of the Senior Member Committee. More recently, he has joined the ACM Women's Council (ACM-W), leading an effort to increase recognition of women in computing. He received the Outstanding Contribution to ACM Award in June 2008 "for a sustained record of dedicated and conscientious leadership within the ACM Special Interest Groups, including service as Chair of the SIG Governing Board, Chair of SIGDA, SGB Representative to Council, as well as leadership in ACM conference organization".

For 18 years (1992 to 2009), he was deeply involved with the ACM Special Interest Group on Design Automation (ACM/SIGDA), serving as Secretary / Treasurer, Newsletter Editor, Chair, and Past Chair. He received the SIGDA Meritorious Service Award in 1997, and the SIGDA Distinguished Service Award in 2006 "for dedicated service as SIGDA Chair (2001-2005) and over a decade of service to SIGDA, DAC, and the EDA profession".

He is a Lifetime Member and Distinguished Member of the ACM, a Senior Member of the IEEE, and a member of ACM/SIGDA, ACM/SIGARCH, ACM/SIGCSE, IEEE Computer Society, IEEE Circuits and Systems Society, and Sigma Xi. He has served on over 120 conference steering, organizing, and program committees, including 7 years on the DATE Sponsors' Committee, 4 years on the DAC Executive Committee, and 7 years on the the ICCAD Executive Committee. He has a strong interest in teaching, and received the Lilly Endowment Teaching Fellowship in 1990 and the Rensselaer Distinguished Teaching Fellowship in 1992.


Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Carnegie-Mellon University, 1988


Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Enterprise Architecture


  • Algorithmic and Register-Transfer Level Synthesis: The System Architect's Workbench
  • A Survey of High-Level Synthesis Systems


Association for Computing Machinery, Embedded Systems, Hardware/Software Co-Design, Computer Architecture, Parallel Computing, Multiprocessor


  • Lilly Endowment Teaching Fellowship, 1990
  • Rensselaer Distinguished Teaching Fellowship, 1992
  • SIGDA Meritorious Service Award, 1997
  • SIGDA Distinguished Service Award, 2006
  • Outstanding Contribution to ACM Award, 2008