Zvi Galil

Zvi Galil (Hebrew: צבי גליל; born June 26, 1947) is an Israeli-American computer scientist and mathematician. He was from 2010 to 2019 the dean of the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing.[3] His research interests include the design and analysis of algorithms, computational complexity and cryptography. He has been credited with coining the terms stringology and sparsification.[4][5] He has published over 200 scientific papers[6] and is listed as an ISI highly cited researcher.[7]

Zvi Galil
Galil in 2010
Born (1947-06-26) June 26, 1947[1]
Alma mater
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorJohn Hopcroft[2]
Doctoral students

Early life and education

Zvi Galil was born in Tel Aviv in 1947. He completed both his B.Sc. (1970) and his M.Sc. (1971) in Applied Mathematics, both summa cum laude, at Tel Aviv University before earning his Ph.D. in Computer Science at Cornell in 1975 under the supervision of John Hopcroft.[2] He then spent a year working as a post-doctorate researcher at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York.[8]

Academic administrator

From 1976 until 1995 he worked in the computer science department of Tel Aviv University, serving as its chair from 1979 to 1982. In 1982 he joined the faculty of Columbia University, serving as the chair of the Computer Science Department from 1989-1994.[1][8] From 1995-2007, he served as the dean of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science.[9] In this position, he oversaw the naming of the school in honor of Chinese businessman Z. Y. Fu after a large donation was given in his name.[10] At Columbia, he was appointed the Julian Clarence Levi Professor of Mathematical Methods and Computer Science in 1987, and the Morris and Alma A. Schapiro Dean of Engineering in 1995.[1]

From 1983 to 1987, Galil served as the chairman of ACM SIGACT, an organization that promotes research in theoretical computer science.[11]

Galil served as the President of Tel Aviv University starting in 2007,[12] but resigned and returned to the faculty in 2009.[13] He was named as the dean of Georgia Tech's College of Computing on April 9, 2010.[3] At Georgia Tech, together with Udacity founder Sebastian Thrun, Galil conceived of the College of Computing’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMSCS) program, and he led the faculty creation of the program.[14] OMSCS went on to become the largest online master’s program in computer science in the United States.[15] In June 2018, Galil announced he would be stepping down as dean and returning to a regular faculty position in June 2019.[16][17]


Galil's research is in the areas of algorithms, particularly string and graph algorithms, complexity, cryptography and experimental design. Among his most highly cited work are the following:

  • Gabber, O.; Galil, Z. "Explicit constructions of linear-sized superconcentrators". Journal of Computer and System Sciences. 22 (3). doi:10.1016/0022-0000(81)90040-4.
  • Gabow, H. N.; Galil, Z.; Spencer, T.; Tarjan, R. E. "Efficient algorithms for finding minimum spanning trees in undirected and directed graphs". Combinatorica. 6 (2). doi:10.1007/BF02579168.
  • Galil, Z. "Efficient algorithms for finding maximum matching in graphs". ACM Computing Surveys. 18 (1). doi:10.1145/6462.6502.
  • Galil, Z.; Park, K. "An improved algorithm for approximate string matching". Proceedings of 16th International Colloquium on Automata, Languages and Programming. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 372. Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/BFb0035772.

Awards and honors

In 1995, he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, for "fundamental contributions to the design and analysis of algorithms and outstanding service to the theoretical computer science community,"[18] and in 2004 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for "contributions to the design and analysis of algorithms and for leadership in computer science and engineering."[19][20] In 2005 he was selected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[21] In 2008, Columbia University established the Zvi Galil award for student life.[22] In 2009 the Columbia Society of Graduates awarded him the Great Teacher Award.[23] In 2012, The University of Waterloo awarded Galil with an honorary Doctor of Mathematics degree for his "fundamental contributions in the areas of graph algorithms and string matching."[24]


  1. Eppstein, David; Italiano, Giuseppe F. (March 1999). "PREFACE: Festschrift for Zvi Galil". Journal of Complexity. 15 (1): 1–3. doi:10.1006/jcom.1998.0492.
  2. Zvi Galil at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. "Institute names next College of Computing Dean" (Press release). Georgia Institute of Technology. 2010-04-09. Retrieved 2010-04-09.
  4. "Introduction to Stringology". The Prague Stringology Club. Czech Technical University in Prague. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  5. Zvi, Galil; David Eppstein; Giuseppe F. Italiano; Amnon Nissenzweig (September 1997). "Sparsification - a technique for speeding up dynamic graph algorithms". Journal of the ACM. 44 (5): 669–696. doi:10.1145/265910.265914. Retrieved May 14, 2012.
  6. "Zvi Galil". The DBLP Computer Science Bibliography. Digital Bibliography & Library Project. Retrieved 2016-03-24.
  7. "ISI Highly Cited Researchers Version 1.1: Zvi Galil". ISI Web of Knowledge. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  8. "Zvi Galil Named Dean of Columbia's Engineering School" (Press release). Columbia University. July 14, 1995. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  9. McCaughey, Robert (2014). A Lever Long Enough: A History of Columbia's School of Engineering and Applied Science since 1864. Columbia University Press. p. 238.
  10. Arenson, Karen W. (1997-10-01). "Chinese Tycoon Gives Columbia $26 Million". New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-20.
  11. "Front matter". ACM SIGACT News. 19 (1). Fall 1987.
  12. "Computer expert nominated for TAU presidency". Jerusalem Post. November 5, 2006.
  13. Ilani, Ofri; Kashti, Or (2009-07-02). "Tel Aviv University president quits / Sources: Galil was forced out of office". Haaretz. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  14. Lewin, Tamar (August 13, 2013). "Master's Degree Is New Frontier of Study Online". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-10-09.
  15. "OMSCS: The Revolution Will Be Digitized". Georgia Tech College of Computing. April 4, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  16. Ivy, Susie (June 12, 2018). "Dean Zvi Galil to Step Down After 18-19 Academic Year". Georgia Tech News Center.
  17. "College's Skyrocketing Stature, Global Impact Highlight Galil's Legacy". Georgia Tech College of Computing. April 16, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  18. ACM Fellow Award / Zvi Galil
  19. "Dr. Zvi Galil". NAE Members. National Academy of Engineering. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  20. "Zvi Galil Elected to National Academy of Engineering". Columbia News. Columbia University. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
  21. Academy Elects 225th Class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members, American Association for the Advancement of Science, April 26, 2005.
  22. "Zvi Galil Award". Columbia College. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  23. "Quigley, Galil To Receive Great Teacher Awards". Columbia College Today. September 2009. Retrieved 2019-06-05.
  24. Smyth, Pamela. "University of Waterloo to award eight honorary degrees at spring convocation". Waterloo Communications. University of Waterloo. Retrieved May 11, 2012.
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