Remembering Sang Lyul Min


Sang Lyul Min, a Professor of CSE at Seoul National University (SNU), passed away on February 24th after bravely fighting pancreatic cancer for over two years. He served on many program committees including RTSS, RTAS, and ECRTS. He also has chaired or organized many conferences and workshops. For example, he co-organized the first RTCSA in 1994 at Seoul National University and ESWEEK 2006 in Seoul. He was a program co-chair of EMSOFT 2016 and LCTES 2000. Also, he was a general co-chair of ISCA 2016 held in Seoul, South Korea, and subsequently served on the steering committee of ISCA. With deep sadness, I am writing this post to remember his life and legacy.

Sang Lyul Min was a dedicated leader with great contributions to the real-time community. His frontier work on architecture-aware timing analysis led a new research field that bridges the real-time community and the computer architecture community. As the most detail-oriented person I know of, every cycle surely counted to him! So, it’s not surprising that he came up with techniques to accurately count the number of worst-case execution cycles even in the presence of dynamic events such as pipeline stalls and cache misses (“An Accurate Worst Case Timing Analysis for RISC Processors” in RTSS ’94, and the sequel). His team also published the first work to accurately analyze the effect of cache contention on preemption delay in a multi-tasked real-time system. This work eventually led to the foundation of a new subfield of scheduling, known as Cache-Related Preemption Delay (CRPD) analysis, which is still an active area of research today.

Sang Lyul Min is an early pioneer who started research on flash management software in the late 90’s, now known as Flash Translation Layer (FTL), long before the flash-based SSD became mainstream. Among his numerous innovations, he is perhaps best known for his log-based flash management scheme (cited nearly 1200 times at the time of this writing), which soon became the basis for most commercial flashcard products back then.  More importantly, his academic descendants went on to become industry innovators in major flash vendors such as Samsung and SK Hynix as well as startups (e.g., MTRON, Indilinx, and FADU), to build highly successful SSD and flashcard products. He is widely recognized as one of those “godfathers” whose contributions were pivotal for South Korea to establish itself as a global top player in the flash-based storage device market today.

While pursuing global impact, his life was always devoted to building a strong local community.  As a Ph.D. graduate of University of Washington under Jean-Loup Baer, he was one of the first to start real-time and computer architecture research in Korea in the early 90’s, back when a very few researchers were active in the fields. After three decades, South Korea has established itself as a major contributor to the real-time and computer architecture communities. Thanks to his devotion, today, the Korea’s real-time community grows to a major contributor of the global real-time community (e.g., 5% ~ 11% share of overall RTSS participants in the recent 5 years) actively contributing to RTSS, RTAS, ECRTS and RTCSA. Along with that, the Korea’s computer architecture community flourishes more than ever before–this year South Korea is the second most represented country in the upcoming ISCA 2020 program (based on the first author’s affiliation), contributing 10 out of 77 all accepted papers. 

When I think about him, I remember a brilliant researcher and selfless leader who pursued true excellence in whatever he did. I also remember a warm-hearted man whose generosity was infectious to all around him. I feel the world without him is a bit less warm, less orderly place than it used to be. He will be dearly missed and remembered by all who knew him.

Author bio: Chang-Gun Lee is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea.

Disclaimer:  Any views or opinions represented in this blog are personal, belong solely to the blog post authors and do not represent those of ACM SIGBED or its parent organization, ACM.

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