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Anant Agarwal

CEO, edX

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

CEO, edX

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Anant Agarwal
CEO, edX
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Director, Open Learning Enterprise

Dr. Agarwal is the founding CEO of edX, the online learning destination established in 2012 as a joint partnership by MIT and Harvard University. He taught the very first edX course from MIT, on circuits and electronics, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries.  He has served as the director of CSAIL, the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT.

A self-described serial entrepreneur, he led the development of Alewife, a cache coherent multiprocessor, and he co-founded several successful companies including: Tilera, Virtual Machine Works, and Oxygen.

Dr. Agarwal holds a bachelor’s degree from the Indian Institute of Technology at Madras and a Ph.D from Stanford University.

Highlights of this interview include:

  • Childhood growing up in Mangalore, India.  Dreams of becoming a fighter pilot shifted to electronics and admission to India Institute of Technology.
  • Decided to pursue a career in research and went to Stanford for a Ph.D.
  • Began working on the MIPS computer while working as a research assistant at Stanford.
  • Applied for a professorship after Stanford and was accepted by MIT.
  • Developed his own style of teaching using in class demos and choreographing the lay out of the material.
  • Built a parallel computer called Alewife and a chip called Raw.
  • His first start-up company out of MIT was Virtual Machine Works, followed by Tilera and Oxygen.
  • Became Director of CSAIL, and built WebSim and online computer laboratory.
  • Proposed the idea of a “virtual MIT” to spread the reach of MIT around the world.  Harvard came on board and edX was formed.  Agarwal became CEO.
  • The development of edX as a platform and a consortium of schools around the world.
  • Goal of educating a billion people. 

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