David Farber

David Farber

Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy in the School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Former Member, Internet Society Board of Trustees


Prof. Farber has long been a prominent defender of the Internet and has been involved in both critical policy and technology deliberations, including his role as Chief Technologist for the FCC; mentor to many Internet pioneers and as an adviser to companies and governments. He organized and moderates the IP mailing list, a key forum where both the immediate issues and the long-term consequences of the Internet are first discussed in public. A staunch promoter of personal freedoms, he is a long time Trustee of the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and he serves on the advisory board of EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) and is a member of the Markle Task Force on National Security in the Information Age.

Dave Farber came to his important role in guiding the development of the Internet as a technologist. His tenure at the Moore School at Univ. of Penn., where he was also appointed to the Wharton business school, and his later role in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon, put him in the middle of the key debates and in worldwide touch with many Internet pioneers. His students, including Jon Postel, Paul Mockapetris and David Sincoskie, among others, have contributed much towards making the Internet a vital economic and political force. Farber played a key role in many systems that converged into today's Internet, including the National Science Foundation's CSNet, in addition to helping to plan and develop NSFNet and NREN, efforts that led to the development of the current commercial Internet. Farber was a co-instigator of the NSF Gigabit Test bed effort. His efforts to introduce CSNet into Japan led Prof. Jun Muri to dub him the "grandfather of Japanese networking."

Currently, Prof. Farber is the Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, with a secondary appointment to the Heinz School of Public Policy and the Engineering Public Policy Group. He is the Alfred Fitler Moore Professor Emeritus of Telecommunication Systems at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also held appointments as Professor of Business and Public Policy at the Wharton School of Business and as a Faculty Associate of the Annenberg School of Communications.

His early academic research work, at the ICS Department of the University of California at Irvine, was focused on creating the worlds first operational Distributed Computer System (DCS). After moving to the University of Delaware (Department of Electrical Engineering), Farber helped conceive and organize CSNet, chairing its Executive Committee. A pioneering project of the National Science Foundation, CSNet made then-experimental networking technology available to academic computer scientists and was instrumental in spreading the technology globally, to both industry and academia.

At Penn, Farber was Director of the Distributed Systems Laboratory, where he managed bleeding-edge research in Ultra-High Speed Networking. Farber also co-directed the Penn Initiative on Markets, Technology and Policy.

Farber graduated from the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1956, after which he started an 11-year career at Bell Telephone Laboratories. There he helped design the first electronic switching system – the ESS. He also co-designed the SNOBOL programming language.

At both Bell Labs and a later stint at Rand Corporation, Farber had the privilege, at a young age, of working with and learning from the founding practitioners of our field. Farber worked at Scientific Data Systems prior to entering academia, joining the University of California at Irvine.

In 2000, he took leave from UPenn to serve for one year as Chief Technologist of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, at a crucial time in the history of the Internet. Previously he was appointed by U.S. President Clinton to serve on the Presidential Advisory Board on Information Technology.

Farber served for over 10 years on the National Research Council’s CSTB and Telecom Boards, and he served for eight years on the NSF Computer Science Advisory Board.

A Fellow of both the ACM and the IEEE, Farber was awarded the Sigcomm Award for life-long contributions to communications. He also received Philadelphia’s John Scott Award for Contributions to Humanity (past recipients include Albert Einstein and Marie Curie).

Farber was in 1999 awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Engineering from the Stevens Institute of Technology.