Brian Mathews


Meet Brian

Brian is a technology futurist who has spent three decades architecting cloud and desktop software for designers and engineers. Most recently, he led a 500-person platform group at Autodesk that was responsible for software development, cloud operations, product security and compliance. Previously, he led software teams developing 3D reality capture, computer graphics, augmented reality, data compression and other products. Brian holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in electrical engineering, both from Cornell University.

What’s not in his bio

Who is your hero in real life?
The Woz (Steve Wozniak).  Why?  While Steve Jobs is better known, the other Apple co-founder was a creative engineer who used Software Defined Hardware from the beginning.  For example, here is a picture of Woz’s floppy disk controller that he designed in 1978 when Apple was a small company.  Compare that to this picture of a disk controller IBM designed with a larger engineering team, and several extra years (1983)!  Woz’s design is simpler, cheaper, more reliable, flexible, and initially stored more data!  How did he do it?  He used software to perform the timing, counting, and pulse coding rather than a large set of hardware chips as IBM did.  That wasn’t his only innovation: he used similar Software Defined Hardware tricks to make a joystick game controller with a single chip (a 558 timer IC), and a DRAM refresh circuit using the video decoder process.  Bright thinking!

What/who inspires you?
Software, and specifically the surprising complexity that results from the simple ideas of indirection and emergence when utilized by software systems.

Best book you’ve read in the last year?
It’s an oldie: “The Goal” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt, after reading “The Phoenix Project” which is based on it, but for the Cloud Computing generation.

Favorite robot?
TARS (from the movie Interstellar), because it is so unique in how it works physically and interactively.  Is that 10% “I don’t know” or 90% “I don’t know”?