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F. Thomson (Tom) Leighton PhD ’81

Professor of Applied Mathematics, 1989 - present

Professor of Applied Mathematics, 1989 - present

F. Thomson (Tom) Leighton PhD ’81
Professor of Applied Mathematics, 1989 - present
Head, Algorithms Group (CSAIL), 1996 - present

Professor Tom Leighton is a professor of applied mathematics at MIT who has served as the head of the Algorithms Group in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) since its inception in 1996. In 1998, Professor Leighton co-founded Akamai Technologies, the world’s leading Internet content delivery network, where he currently serves as chief scientist and is a member of the board of directors. He is a preeminent authority on algorithms for network applications, and has published on cryptography, parallel architectures, and distributed computing, among other topics. Professor Leighton is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Sciences. He holds a BS in engineering from Princeton University and a PhD in mathematics from MIT.

Highlights of this interview include:

  • Early interest in math and science
  • Being a Westinghouse Science Talent Search Finalist
  • Coming to MIT
  • Development of the research on networks that eventually led to the founding of Akamai
  • Early attempts to commercialize this research and the founding of Akamai
  • The history of Akamai—early success, dark days following bursting of the tech bubble, and the loss of Daniel Lewin on September 11, 2001
  • Rebounding of the company and its current state
  • Challenges facing the Internet: security
  • The future of the Internet
  • MIT's strength in promoting technology-based entrepreneurship

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