Paulo Veríssimo named ACM Fellow 2009

Paulo Verissimo 2010 Paulo Veríssimo, a professor and researcher at the Universidade de Lisboa’s Faculdade de Ciências (FCUL), was named 2009’s ACM Fellow (Association for Computing Machinery) for his contributions to dependable and secure distributed computing. Two years ago, Veríssimo was awarded with the title of IEEE Fellow (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). For Veríssimo these distinctions are a sign that in his 20 years of hard work, he and his team have made important advancements in the field of dependable and secure distribute computing.  

Q. What is the importance of this distinction?
According to ACM, the ACM Fellowship is awarded for “outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology, and/or outstanding service to ACM and the larger computing community.” So, this is an enormous honor to me, especially after having been named IEEE Fellow two years ago.

Q. What have been your contributions to dependable and secure distributed computing areas? Could you give some examples?
Judging from the opinion of the colleagues who were kind enough to propose and back me, I guess that works like Delta-4, that probably launched the field of modular and distributed fault tolerance, and later MAFTIA, which I guess advanced intrusion tolerance pretty much, being in essence one of the first comprehensive attempts at distributed trustworthy computing. And some other things in between...


“I have been extremely lucky with the people that I have recruited over the years, not only people who are with us now, but others who left and made extremely well.”


Q. In some interviews, you said that your team is very important in all the work you are developing. Why are they also important?
Well, for two things actually. Firstly, because these fields are complex, my group has actually been moving on a hinge between theory and systems, and we love to do proofs-of-concept of almost everything we conceive or predict theoretically. If you don't have a dream team, then your chances are smaller. They are a dream team. I have been extremely lucky with the people that I have recruited over the years, not only people who are with us now, but others who left and excelled extremely well - like for example Werner Vogel’s, Chief Technology Officer and Vice-President of Amazon. Secondly, because one of my mottos has been to show that you can have Portugal-based teams, with people trained in Portugal (be they Portuguese or foreigners) working at the highest world level, peer-to-peer with the best groups. If you get the point, the successes of the individual team members at international level are my proof of concept. And the greatest fun was doing all this while living in Portugal: good weather, food and wine, sea and sailing...

Q. What will be the next step in your career? New research projects? Developing new areas?
Oh, you never stop. I try to have one great idea every x years (the x is because in between you generate a lot of lousy ideas...), one that will feed our imagination and inspire us to do a thread of research. This is better than doing impulse or opportunity papers, because the sequence of projects and papers makes sense and we, a small team, may ambition to make the difference in a niche. Yes, we have quite a few new projects accepted and a few others proposed, national and international. But we are currently in such a change point after a very successful decade, so, about new areas: yes, but it´s a secret for now.