Google Research

Alfred Z. Spector


Alfred Spector retired from Google in early 2015. In his 7+ years at Google, Alfred Spector was responsible for research at Google and also Google’s open source, university relations, internationalization, engineering, and many education initiatives.

Dr. Spector spoke widely on research and innovation, and he devoted much time to helping Google connect to the university research community. He advocated Google’s Hybrid Approach to Research, which is based on

  1. having a flexible organization that makes technology transfer easier,
  2. smaller teams which are better able to quickly create, launch and iterate products, and
  3. a belief that researchers should strive for impact that scales, allowing discoveries to benefit the world through rapid and broad dissemination.

Dr. Spector also spoke widely about “CS+X,” which is short-hand for the argument that the hybridization of computer science with every other discipline (x) would increasingly impact education, research, products, and even societal structures. While he began discussing CS+X in 2004, the exponential progress in CS and the advent of big data has made it an ever more important tenet.

Previously, Dr. Spector was vice president of strategy and technology at IBM’s Software Business, and prior to that, he was vice president of services and software research across IBM. He was also founder and CEO of Transarc Corporation, a pioneer in distributed transaction processing and wide area file systems, and was an associate professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in highly reliable, highly scalable distributed computing.

Dr. Spector received his Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford and a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the IEEE and the ACM. Dr. Spector is also the recipient of the 2001 IEEE Computer Society’s Tsutomu Kanai Award for work in scalable architectures and distributed systems.

Personally, Alfred is married to Rhonda and has 3 children. He plays the piano a bit and runs persistently.

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