Cornell University
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William Arms

Professor Emeritus

Areas of Interest

Digital libraries, electronic publishing, web information systems


William Arms is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University.

His education is in mathematics and operational research, but his career has been devoted to novel ways of applying computing to academic activities, including early work in educational computing, computer networks, and digital libraries.

In the 1970s he was a member of the mathematics faculty at the British Open University, which was the pioneer in creating degree level courses for what is now called distance education. The team developed the first two computer science courses, making use of the world's the first national computer network designed specifically for education.

From 1978 to 1985, Dr. Arms was in charge of computing at Dartmouth College. Dartmouth is generally acknowledged to have been the first university to provide a really satisfactory computing environment for non-specialist computer users. More than ten years earlier, John Kemeny and Tom Kurtz developed one of the first large time sharing systems and the Basic programming language. This system reached its full maturity in the early 1980s. At the same time they recognized that the future of academic computing was moving from large central computers to networks of personal computers. In a few short years, the team transformed the campus by developing the first campus-wide computer network and, in 1984, introducing a program of universal ownership of personal computers, linked to the network.

From 1985 to 1994, Dr. Arms was Vice President for computing at Carnegie Mellon University. Under President Richard Cyert, the university had a vision of a university that would achieve excellence through universal, high-end computing. Much of the support came from the Andrew project, jointly with IBM. The strategy to achieve this goal had a technical component (a high speed campus network, with powerful workstations linked through a central file system, and distributed applications), sponsorship of innovations in education through interactive computing, and the developments of digital library services.

Dr. Bill Arms's interest in digital libraries dates back to the early 1970s. Dartmouth, while Dr. Arms was there, was the first university to attach an online catalog to a network. At Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Arms led the development of the Mercury Electronic Library, which had its campus-wide deployment in 1991. Since then he has been part of many of the major digital library research programs in the USA, as a principal investigator for DARPA's CSTR program (1992), consultant to the NSF/DARPA/NASA Digital Libraries Initiative (1994), and one of the creators behind the NSF's National Science Digital Library (2000). In recent years, most of his research has been in the Cornell Web Lab, a very large scale project to analyze historic collections of web pages.

Dr. Bill Arms came to Cornell in 1999 as Professor of Computer Science with the goal of establishing an academic program in Information Science, combining Cornell's strengths in digital libraries, computer science, and the social science that study where people and technology converge. He was the first director of that program from 2002 to 2005.


Please see Bill Arms's home page for a complete list of publications. Below is a list of recent works. 

  • "The 1990s: The Formative Years of Digital Libraries". Library Hi Tech, 30(4), 2012. PDF. (with Manuel Calimlim, and Lucia Walle). "EScience in Practice: Lessons from the Cornell Web Lab". D-Lib Magazine, May/June 2009, 15 (5/6).
  • "Implementation and Innovation in the NSDL". Wordpress. September 2008.
  • "Cyberscholarship: High Performance Computing meets Digital Libraries", Journal of Electronic Publishing. January 2008.
  • (with Ronald L. Larsen, co-chairs). "The future of scholarly communication: building the infrastructure for cyberscholarship". NSF/JISC workshop, Phoenix, Arizona, April 17 to 19, 2007.
  • Electronic Text Meets High-Performance Computing: The Cornell Web Lab. CaSTA 2006 , October 2006. MS Word
  • (with D. Huttenlocher, J. Kleinberg, M. Macy, and D. Strang). "From Wayback Machine to Yesternet: New opportunities for social science." Second International Conference on e-Social Science. June 28-30, 2006. Manchester U.K. PDF
  • "Trust and reputation on the web", Nature's peer review debate, doi:10.1038/nature05035. June 2006.
  • (with Aya, S., Dmitriev, P., Kot, B., Mitchell, R., Walle, L.) "Building a Research Library for the History of the Web". Joint Conference on Digital Libraries, 2006. MS Word
  • (with S. Aya, M. Calimlim, J. Cordes, J. Deneva, P. Dmitriev, J. Gehrke, L. Gibbons, C. D. Jones, V. Kuznetsov, D. Lifka, M. Riedewald, D. Riley, A. Ryd, and G. J. Sharp) "Three Case Studies of Large-Scale Data Flows". In Proc. IEEE Workshop on Workflow and Data Flow for Scientific Applications (SciFlow). 2006. PDF.
  • (with Aya, S., Dmitriev, P., Kot, B., Mitchell, R., Walle, L., "A Research Library based on the Historical Collections of the Internet Archive". D-Lib Magazine, February 2006.
  • "A Viewpoint Analysis of the Digital Library", D-Lib Magazine 10th Anniversary Issue, 11(7/8), July/August 2005.
  • "Information Science as a Liberal Art", Interlending and Document Supply, (33) 2, February 2005, pp. 81-84. MS Word
  • (with Caroline R. Arms) "Mixed Content and Mixed Metadata: Information Discovery in a Messy World." In Metadata in Practice, edited by Diane Hillmann and Elaine Westbrooks,ALA Editions, 2004. HTML
  • (with Naomi Dushay, Dave Fulker, and Carl Lagoze) "A Case Study in Metadata Harvesting: the NSDL." Library HiTech Vol. 21, no. 2, 2003. MS Word
  • "What Are the Alternatives to Peer Review? Quality Control in Scholarly Publishing On The Web." Journal of Electronic Publishing, 8(1), August 2002.