Computer Science

Contact Information

Fuller Laboratories, 144
Phone: +1-508-831-5493
Fax: +1-508-831-5776

View Personal Website

Hugh C. Lauer

I came to WPI after more than 30 years in industry. Prior to my industrial career, I earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie-Mellon University and spent five years as a member of the faculty at University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in Great Britain. I joined the WPI Computer Science Department in 2006, initially on a course-by-course basis and later as a regular part-time member of the teaching faculty. This is a realization of my lifelong goal to "retire" into teaching. Of course, teaching at WPI is, in no sense, "retirement."

Why WPI? Many years ago, Peters and Waterman wrote in their book In Search of Excellence that a characteristic of an excellent organization is one that gets extraordinary results from ordinary people. WPI does exactly that -- it routinely turns ordinary students into extraordinary graduates, adults who are able to make significant impacts in their workplaces after graduation.

In CS, I am considered a "systems" person. My early research was in operating systems, networks, and distributed systems. I am one of the few faculty members in this or any CS department who can claim end-to-end experience of developing a production operating system from its conception all the way through shipment as a product. Later, I branched out into volume graphics, surgical simulation, and surgical navigation.

I like to build stuff -- interesting stuff. My proudest accomplishment was the development of VolumePro(tm), the world's first volume-rendering engine for PC-class machines that could do real-time, interactive rendering of 3D data such as MRI and CT scans. My team and I shipped two generations of semiconductors, boards, and software. Our second generation (2001) out-performed the best graphics engines in our market by a wide margin, and we set the modern standard for 3D medical image quality.

My current favorite topics are related to the architecture of digital computers, particularly around the boundary between hardware and software. Who could possibly have imagined 30 years ago what digital processors and graphics chips would look like today? They change so rapidly from year to year that it keeps us on our toes, just to be able to present something directly relevant to our students. Our big challenge today is how to harness the inherent parallelism in these computing engines. In that vein, my research interest is in dataflow representations of programs and in "function-level parallelism" -- i.e., the ability of a function and its caller to execute concurrently without the intervention of an operating system. I am inventor or co-inventor on 21 US Patents, and I was one of the founding members of MERL (Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratory) in Cambridge. I am also a Senior Member of the IEEE and a member of the ACM.

At home, I have been a volunteer in my local municipal government for many years. I served on the Public Works Commission and the Finance Committee of my town, Concord, Massachusetts, and I represented the town at the MBTA Advisory Board. I currently serve as the chairman of the board of the town's municipal electric utility where we have adopted an aggressive policy to transitioning our power supply portfolio from fossil fuels to renewable sources. I have also served as Scoutmaster of the local Boy Scout troop, overseeing 55 boys and graduating 14 Eagle Scouts.

Research Interests

  • Computer Architecture
  • "Systems"


  • B.Sc. Antioch College, Mathematics
  • M.Sc. Carnegie-Mellon University, Mathematics
  • Ph.D. Carnegie-Mellon University, Computer Science

Featured Publications

View a Complete List      

  • Email a Friend
  • Bookmark this Page
  • Share this Page