David Ross Cheriton

David Cheriton is a professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University in California. His research includes the areas of high-performance scalable distributed systems, Internet architecture and protocols and hardware-software interaction, particularly at the operating system level. His work has made a number of early contributions to the development of the Internet.

Professor Cheriton was born in Vancouver, BC and subsequently moved with his parents to Edmonton. He attended Eastglen High School – experimenting with homeschooling in grade 11 by taking a year off and completing courses by correspondence – and performing in drama and music festivals and occasionally on radio and TV. An avid windsurfer, snowboarder and cyclist, he retains an ongoing interest in the fine arts.

He attended the University of Alberta from 1969 to 1971 before moving to UBC, where he graduated with a B.Sc in Mathematics in 1973. He also spent two summers at the Banff School of Fine Arts in the musical theatre program. With a National Research Council (now NSERC) scholarship, he pursued graduate studies a Masters degree in 1974 and a Ph.D. in 1978 from the University of Waterloo. He accepted a position as assistant professor of Computer Science at UBC, and in 1981 he accepted a position at Stanford.

Professor Cheriton is a recognized leader in computer systems research, having produced a number of widely referenced papers and research systems. His research has received the support of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for over 20 years, and he has played an active role in various government studies and reviews. His Stanford classes are routinely televised in the Silicon Valley area to leading high technology companies for the benefit of their employees.

A technical advisor to numerous companies including Silicon Graphics, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems and Google, Professor Cheriton has also served as an expert consultant and witness in a number of high technology legal cases. He was co-founder of Granite Systems, then a leading developer of gigabit Ethernet products – acquired in 1996 by Cisco Systems – where he served as a technical advisor until 2003. He was also a co-founder of Kealia Inc. – acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2004 – and co-founder of Arista Networks which went public in 2014.

An active investor in high technology, he has worked with leading venture capital firms in the Silicon Valley area, including Kleiner-Perkins, Caufield and Byers and New Enterprise Associates. As a seed investor, he has also helped provide initial funding for a number of important Silicon Valley companies, most notably Google. He holds a number of patents for his work. He has also made numerous philanthropic donations to support education.

David Cheriton's students have gone on to become leaders in various academic institutions and industry – a testament to his success as an entrepreneur and a mentor.

The University of Alberta Senate is donating the following volume to the Bruce Peel Special Collections Library to commemorate the awarding of an honorary degree to David Ross Cheriton:

Rachel Walsh. The Metaphorical Kindle: Explaining the Kindle to Charles Dickens. Cardiff, UK: Walsh, 2011.

Graduate student artist Rachel Walsh made this charming altered book in response to an assignment in her program at the Cardiff School of Art & Design. Students were asked to explain an aspect of today’s technology to a person from the nineteenth century. Her deceptively simple design layers several print formats to create a metaphor which elucidates the basic functionality of an e-book reader while drawing attention to the multi-layered interrelationships between digital and print technologies. This one of a kind artist’s book is made from an altered copy of The Change by Germaine Greer which houses forty miniature facsimiles of Dickens’ novels alongside some of his childhood favorites and some of the artist’s treasured childhood reads.