Who's Who of Professional Women


Joefon Jann

By the time she was a teenager, Joefon Jann was at the top of her class in mathematics and dreamt of someday working for the best computer company in the world. Receiving a scholarship from Wellesley College, she graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics and a minor in physics from the MIT-Wellesley cross-registration program. From there, she went on to earn a Master of Arts in mathematics from the City University of New York in 1972, and a Master of Science in computer science from Columbia University in 1977. Ms. Jann taught mathematics at Lehman College for three years and worked one year as technical staff in the Network Analysis Corporation, a respected consultant firm for AT&T, before achieving her dream of joining IBM, first as an APL programmer, and later as a systems programmer in the IBM headquarters building in White Plains, New York.

Today, Ms. Jann is an accomplished computer scientist and distinguished engineer with the famous IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center at Yorktown Heights, New York. Her work involves developing and deploying computer systems with the goal of bettering the world and improving the quality of life for individuals. Throughout the years, her contributions to IBM server and high-performance computing (HPC) systems have been used in research for finding cures for cancers and diseases, for the study of drugs and genes, for weather forecasting, financial analysis and artificial intelligence. She has developed many useful applications in the areas of reliability, system virtualization and security.

Most notably, Ms. Jann spent almost three years as the only systems person operating the Deep Blue Computer, the chess system that famously beat the human chess champion, Garry Kasparov, in 1997. Following this success, the system was renamed Deep Thunder and used for weather forecasting. Since then, Ms. Jann has gained significant expertise in working with the scalable-parallel (SP) POWER systems that evolved into generations of the ASCI supercomputers, then into the most powerful Summit and Sierra supercomputers nowadays.

Ms. Jann’s accomplishments include roughly 40 patents in the field, including inventions such as Dynamic Logical PARtitioning (DLPAR), featured in the Encyclopedia of Parallel Computing and widely used in POWER systems worldwide for the past two decades, and the autonomic health adviser filesystem (AHAFS), which enables improved security notifications and simplifies systems management in an operating system (OS). Other notable inventions include concurrently pageable page-sizes in an OS instance; home-node migration for a distributed shared-memory system; and contributions to graphBLAS, a sparse matrix library useful for speeding up and studying social graphs.

An accomplished author as well, Ms. Jann has published dozens of articles in professional journals, both within IBM and externally, and was invited to author the forward of a book titled “AIX Performance.” She has been cited in more than 1,150 scholarly publications as a result of her exemplary research. One of her most prominent projects is “The Jann Model of Massively Parallel Workloads.” Having achieved much over the course of her career, Ms. Jann attributes her success to her passion, wisdom, perseverance, and her goal to make the world a better, more peaceful and pleasant place than the one she was born into.

Over the course of her career, Ms. Jann has been greatly inspired by the work of the many other inventors, scientists and engineers who have contributed to the goal of making the world a safer, cleaner, healthier, more peaceful and equal place. She also feels greatly indebted to the kindness and support of the teachers she has had throughout her education, from the nuns at her Catholic high school, to her professors at Wellesley College, which she considers to be the best women’s college in the world. Her work ethics can be described with the motto of Thomas Edison, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” Ms. Jann would advise young and aspiring professionals to follow their passion, work hard with wisdom and integrity, and be considerate of others and the world. In support of her fellow professionals, she co-founded an internal group at IBM to nurture East and Southeast Asian scientists and technologists, especially women, for improved leadership and success in their fields.

For her excellence, Ms. Jann has been the recipient of a number of honors and accolades. She has received several Best Paper Awards over the years, including one for a conference paper titled “Lazy Home-Migration for Distributed Shared Memory Systems,” another titled “Towards an Immortal Operating System in Virtual Environments” from the Elsevier Journal of Parallel Computing, plus a few other papers. She has also received three IBM Corporate Outstanding Technical Awards, one IBM Corporate Outstanding Innovation Award, and 10 Division Awards that include contributions to POWER10, POWER9, POWER8, SDN (Software-Defined-Networking), reliability, security, scalability and performance in products of IBM. Furthermore, she is an esteemed Marquis listee, and has previously been presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award, named a Marquis Who’s Who Top Scientist, and was featured on the cover of Marquis Who’s Who Millennium Magazine. Ms. Jann considers the highlight of her career to be her recognition as a Distinguished Engineer at the IBM Watson Research Center, and she is continuously evolving and contributing to the technical community, as well as encouraging the women technologists and scientists of the community.


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