Jeff Dean biography: 13 things about computer scientist, software engineer born in Hawaii

Jeffrey Adgate “Jeff” Dean is an American computer scientist and software engineer. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States and the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington, USA.

In the U.S., Dean has lived in various places including Seattle; Boston, Massachusetts; Little Rock, Arkansas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Atlanta, Georgia and Palo Alto, California. Outside the U.S., he has lived in Manila, Philippines; West Nile District, Uganda; Mogadishu, Somalia and Geneva, Switzerland.

Dean and his wife Heidi Hopper have two daughters. Here are 13 more things about him:


  1. He was born in 1968 in Hawaii to tropical-disease researcher Andy Dean and medical anthropologist Virginia Lee.
  2. In 1981, he skipped the last three months of eighth grade to help his parents at a refugee camp in Somalia.
  3. In 1990, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering.
  4. From 1990 to 1991, he worked for the World Health Organization‘s Global Programme on AIDS. He developed software to do statistical modelling, forecasting and analysis of the HIV pandemic.
  5. At the University of Washington, he worked as a teaching assistant and instructor from September 1991 to September 1992 and a research assistant from September 1992 to September 1996. He earned his master’s degree in computer science in 1993 and his Ph.D. in computer science in 1996 both from the university.
  6. From September 1996 to January 1999, he worked for Digital Equipment Corporation‘s Western Research Lab in Palo Alto as a member of the research staff.
  7. From February 1999 to August 1999, he worked for mySimon, Inc. as a senior member of the technical staff.
  8. In August 1999, he became a Google Senior Fellow. He went on to become the head of Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) division.
  9. He and Sanjay Ghemawat are the authors of the research “MapReduce: Simplified Data Processing on Large Clusters,” which was published in December 2004. The two co-authored “Bigtable: A Distributed Storage System for Structured Data,” which was published in October 2006, with Fay Chang, Wilson C. Hsieh, Deborah A. Wallach, Mike Burrows, Tushar Chandra, Andrew Fikes and Robert E. Gruber.
  10. In 2009, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and named a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
  11. In 2011, he and Hopper started making philanthropic grants through their Hopper-Dean Foundation. In 2016, the University of California, Berkeley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology received $1 million each from the foundation to support programs that promote diversity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Also in 2016, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS).
  12. In 2012, he received the ACM-Infosys Foundation Award and the ACM SIGOPS Mark Weiser Award.
  13. On December 5, 2020, he took to Twitter to explain the controversial termination of Timnit Gebru from her position as staff research scientist and co-lead of ethical AI team at Google. As the head of Google’s AI unit, he told staff in an email that he rejected her demand to be told which colleagues deemed a draft paper she wrote was unpublishable, otherwise she would resign. However, she clarified that she was fired and did not resign.

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