After undergraduate work at Michigan State University, James L. Peterson received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1974. He then joined the faculty of the Department of Computer Sciences of the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught courses on operating systems, assembly language programming, and data structures. He remained at Texas until 1985, with leaves at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1978-1979) and the Information Technology Center of Carnegie-Mellon University (1983-1985). In 1985, he joined the Software Technology Program of MCC. From there, he went to IBM.
Dr. Peterson has published four books: Computer Organization and Assembly Language Programming (a lower-level undergraduate text), Petri Net Theory and the Modeling of Systems (a graduate text), Computer Programs for Spelling Correction (a research mongraph), and Operating Systems Concepts (an upper-level undergraduate text). His research spans a wide range of practical and theoretical topics in systems programming. He likes to program too much to ever amount to anything.