Dr. XIA Peisu, a renowned computer scientist and educator, one of the pioneers of computer research and education in China, Professor of the Institute of Computing Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), an Academician of CAS, passed away at 11:10am of August 27th, 2014, at the age of 91, at China-Japan Friendship Hospital, in Beijing.
Dr. XIA Peisu graduated from the Department of Electrical Engineering of National Central University in 1945, and then pursued her study at the Telecom Institute of National Chiao Tung University from 1945 to 1947. She went to Great Britain in 1947 and received her PhD from Edinburg University in 1950. For the next two years, she continued her research as a Post-Doc researcher. Dr. XIA returned to China in the autumn of 1951, to serve the position of Assistant Professor, and later, Associate Professor, at the Lab of Telecom Network, affiliated to the Department of Electrical Engineering of Tsinghua University. She started her career of digital computer research in 1952. She moved to work at the Institute of Mathematics of CAS, and then, the Institute of Modern Physics of CAS the following four years. Ever since 1956, she has been working at the Institute of Computing Technology of CAS.
Together with MIN Naida and WANG Chuanying, Dr. XIA was enlisted in the first electronic computer research team of China in 1952, which ushered the development of computer technology in China. Four years later, she participated in the founding of the Institute of Computing Technology of CAS, which was one of the Four National Emergency Response Measures. Training abundant computer specialists was the top priority for the fledging institute, for itself and for the whole nation. As the tech lead of all computer training programs, she had trained more than 700 computer professionals, who were pilots of computer research and development in China. Principles of Electronic Computer, written by Dr. XIA when she was teaching Principles of Electronic Digital Computer for the training classes, is the first textbook in this field in China. The Chinese translations of many computer terminologies and concepts were introduced right in this book and are still in use.
Dr. XIA has been consistently stressing the importance of independent innovation and making computers by our own. She led the design of a general-purpose digital computer, Machine 107, in 1958, which is the first home-made one. She demonstrated that Chinese had the capability of designing and building our own computers, through her courage and achievement.
Dr. XIA devoted her whole life at the frontline of scientific research and lived a prolific and distinguished career. She proposed the Maximum Time Difference Pipeline theory to boost computer performance by reducing the clock cycle of a pipelined computer significantly. The peak performance of the high-speed array processor, 150-AP, which was designed by Dr. XIA, reached 14 megaflops, while that of the host computer, 150, was only 1 megaflops. The 150-AP broke the performance ceiling laid by US through embargo of similar products, in a low cost way. This achievement generated considerable impacts in the world, and made great contributions to oil exploration in China. She led the research and development of functionally distributed computer systems and successfully delivered the GF10 series computers, which later had been one of the key research projects in ICT for a long period.
Dr. XIA had envisioned as early as in 1990’s that the development and application of high performance computers (HPC) is of paramount importance to our national competitiveness. When pushing forward HPC related research activities, she also proposed that our country should vigorously promote the design and fabrication of Very Large-Scale Integrated circuits (VLSI), otherwise our fate will be in the hands of others. Her students all made remarkable contributions in these two fields.
Ever since the 1960’s, Dr. XIA has taken the responsibility of mentoring graduates. She supervised her students according to their specialties and interests, leading and influencing them to take a career path of research. She set a high notch for her students both on research and on morality, not only through her persuasive and patient words, but also through her deeds. She had supervised more than 60 graduates, including two winners of National Outstanding Doctoral Dissertations and three winners of China Youth Science and Technology Awards.
Besides doing research and education, Dr. XIA also founded, and had been acting as Editor in Chief of, the Chinese Journal of Computers, which is one of the most influential Chinese journals in computer science and technology, and the Journal of Computer Science and Technology, an English computer journal. Cooperating with Mr. XU Kongshi, she led the editing of English-Chinese Computer Dictionary. She was the Vice Editor in Chief of Encyclopedia of Computer Science and Technology.
Dr. XIA was a member of the National People's Political Consultative Conference (5th and 6th session). She received an honorary doctorate degree from Heriot-Watt University in 1985. She became an Academician of CAS in 1991, and was the winner of the first Life Achievement Award from China Computer Federation (CCF) in 2010.
Approachable, self-effacing, and indifferent to fame and fortune, Dr. XIA worked diligently throughout her life. Her guiding behavior principles were “Do unto others, do not impose on others” and “Injustice even though rich and noble, just floating cloud in my eyes”.
As a founding member of the cause of computer research and development in China, Dr. XIA had embodied a remarkable spirit of exploration that are proactive and diligent, a brilliant mind of innovative thoughts combined with rigorous thinking, a virtue of indifference to fame and fortune and generosity when helping late-comers, and a role model of excellence on being humane, doing things and studying, for generations to come to learn and follow. She had dedicated her whole life to the cause of science and education in China. Her prominent contributions are immortal and will always be cherished. In deep grief, we mourn Dr. XIA. In deep grief, we mourn the tragic loss of our nation.
Dr. XIA’s mourning hall, set up in Meeting Room 301 of the ICT Zhongguancun campus, will be open to public for condolence activities from August 28 to September 1. Her farewell ceremony is scheduled at 9:00am in the morning of September 2, 2014 in the East Hall of Babaoshan Funeral Home.
Dr. XIA Peisu’s Funeral Committee
Institute of Computing Technology, CAS
August 27, 2014