Mark Allen Weiss

Mark Allen Weiss, professor and associate director of Florida International University’s School of Computing & Information Sciences, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

“It’s a tremendous honor,” said Weiss, who also serves as the undergraduate program director for the school. “It’s very exciting to be recognized for the work that I’ve been doing at FIU.”

As part of the Section on Education, Weiss was elected as an AAAS Fellow for his distinguished contributions to the advancement of computer science education through his seminal books and curricular innovations that have impacted both high schools and colleges. His interests include data structures, algorithms, and education, and he is most well known for his acclaimed Data Structures textbooks, which have been used at hundreds of universities worldwide.

Weiss has been at FIU since 1987 and was promoted to professor in 1996. That year he was among the first in the world to teach Data Structures using the Java programming language, which is now the de facto standard. From 1997-2004 he served as a member of the Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science Development Committee, chairing the committee from 2000-2004. The committee designed the curriculum and wrote the AP exams that were taken by 20,000 high school students annually. Weiss is the recipient of FIU’s Excellence in Research Award in 1994, Excellence in Teaching Award in 1999, the School of Computing and Information Sciences’ Excellence in Teaching Award in 2005, Excellence in Service Award in 2007, and FIU’s Top Scholar Award in 2012. He was also recognized as an ACM Distinguished Educator in 2011.

“Mark Weiss is a distinguished scholar and an educator of international repute at FIU, and this elevation to AAAS Fellow places the School of Computing & Information Sciences as a prominent flagship school in the state of Florida,” said S. Sitharama Iyengar, Ryder Professor of Computer Science and chair of FIU’s School of Computing & Information Sciences, who is also an AAAS Fellow.

Writing books has presented a continuous challenge for Weiss as programming languages such as Java and C++ add new features that are “wonderful and interesting and sometimes complicated,” he said. He strives in his writing to use the programming language features to illustrate important data structures concepts without letting the complications become a hindrance to the students’ understanding of those concepts. “That’s been a tricky aspect of writing the book, to find the right balance,” he explained.

“When you see that people are using the book, that’s always nice,” he added. “As a writer, I think that you want to do work that’s going to be used by somebody, so this work has had that effect.”

Weiss received his Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from The Cooper Union in 1983, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Princeton University in 1987.

The tradition of AAAS Fellows began in 1874. This year, 702 members were awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 8 to 10 a.m. at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass.

This year’s AAAS Fellows will be formally announced in the AAAS News & Notes section of the journal Science on Nov. 30, 2012.