Frank Thomson “Tom” Leighton

Panelist on the Innovation Panel

2023 IEEE John von Neumann Medal Recipient “for fundamental contributions to algorithm design and their application to content delivery networks”.

Tom Leighton is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and technology leader—and extraordinarily successful in all those endeavors. Early in his career, as a computer scientist and algorithm designer at MIT, he made important contributions to the analysis and design of parallel and network algorithms. He became one of the foremost experts on algorithms for network applications and discovered a novel way to untangle web congestion using applied mathematics and distributed computing. This solution addressed the issue of slow downloads on the internet. Recognizing the power of this technology, he launched a company based on it: Akamai, which is now one of the world’s largest distributed computing platforms, delivering and securing tens of millions of requests per second for billions of users around the globe. Under his leadership, Akamai has evolved from its origins as a content-delivery network into one of the most essential and trusted cloud-delivery and cybersecurity platforms. Akamai delivers enormous volumes of online media, both live and on-demand, accelerates dynamic and secure web applications, and protects applications from cyberattacks. Leighton’s achievements have had a far-reaching societal and economic impact. He’s made fundamental innovations in the field of network routing, developed them into practical applications that benefit billions of internet users, and built a thriving company to produce and deliver those innovations. Parallel to this, he’s also made significant contributions as an educator and mentor. He created the Akamai Technical Academy, which trains diverse students for careers in computing. He’s greatly advanced the cause of STEM education, supporting Girls Who Code, the USA Math Olympiad, and the Intel Science Talent Search, among other worthy groups through his Foundation.

An IEEE Member, Leighton is the chief executive officer, Akamai Technologies, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.