World Ranking of Top Computer Scientists in 2021 (7th Edition)

World Ranking of Top Computer Scientists in 2021 (7th Edition)
Imed Bouchrika by Imed Bouchrika
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

On May 10, 2021, Guide2Research released the 7th edition of the annual ranking for top scientists in the area of computer science and electronics. This list of leading scholars is designed to offer the academic community more visibility and exposure to the influential research contributions made by those at the forefront of computer science.

What is more, we hope it will inspire researchers, decision-makers, and entrepreneurs around the world to find out where leading experts are heading. It is a great opportunity for all of us to learn who are the leading experts in different research areas, in different countries, as well as within different universities and research institutions.

For the 2021 7th edition of the ranking, more than 6300 scientist profiles have been examined with several indicators and metrics reviewed in order to consider each scientist’s inclusion in the ranking. The position in the ranking was based on H-index value from Google Scholar. Only scientists with an H-index >= 40 were considered. The second verification step included a manual examination of each scientist’s list of publications on DBLP to ensure they are indeed authors of a significant number of computer science-related publications. The final step involved verification of awards and fellowships of each researcher. 

The key findings for the 7th edition of top computer scientist ranking

  • Scholars from the United States are still dominating the ranking with 614 scientists representing 61.4% of all leading scientists. The other countries with leading positions in the ranking are the United Kingdom (60 scientists or 6%), China (41 scientists or 4.1%), Germany (37 scientists or 3.7%), Canada (34 scientists or 3.4%), and Switzerland (29 scientists or 2.9%).
  • China has seen a significant increase in the number of scientists present on the list with 41 scientists listed in 2021 in comparison to 22 in 2020, becoming the third country with the highest number of leading computer scientists in the world.
  • Countries in which the number of leading scientists has decreased significantly include Switzerland (34 scientists in 2020 and 29 in 2021) and Italy (a decrease from 16 in 2020 to 12 in 2021)
  • In 2021 Stanford University was the research institution hosting the highest number of leading computer scientists with as many as 40 of them working there this year which represents 4% of all world’s leading scientists. Stanford University took the leader’s position from MIT, which topped the ranking for computer science in 2020.
  • Private companies saw a significant rise in the number of leading scientists affiliated with them in 2020. Google, the highest-ranking private company, jumped from 17 researchers in 2020 to 24 in 2021. Microsoft Research, saw an even higher increase, from 12 scholars listed in 2020 to 21 in 2021, almost doubling its pool of leading scientists.
  • 14 leading scientists are recipients of the Alan Turing Award, the most prestigious distinction in the field of computer science. 273 scientists were elected as ACM Fellows, and 401 were promoted to IEEE Fellows in recognition of their scientific achievements. AAAI Fellowship for contributions in the field of artificial intelligence has been awarded to 87 scientists.
  • The average h-index for the top 1% of scientists is 176.5 against an average of 90.8 for all 1000 scientists included in the ranking.

The full ranking for the 2021 list of top computer scientists can be found here:



Professor Imed Bouchrika, a computer scientist responsible for making sure all data in the ranking remained unbiased, accurate, and up-to-date said: “The academic year 2020/2021 was a remarkably difficult time for the research community due to the COVID pandemic. Whilst most academic institutions were closed forcing students and lecturers to work remotely, leading scientists are still devoting unmatched efforts to disseminate their knowledge which is pivotal to the advancement of science and prosperity in our world. The list of leading scientists in computer science is and will always be an inspiration to us to acknowledge the dedication and contributions of those highly respected scientists worldwide.”

Countries with the highest number of leading computer scientists

Scientists from the United States continue to dominate the list with 614 scholars included in 2021 which represents 61.4% of the whole ranking. Similarly to the situation in 2020, 8 out of 10 scientists in the top 1% are from the United States (the other two are from Canada and United Kingdom). The dominant position of the US hasn’t changed much since 2018 when they had as many as 621 scientists on the list, although a small, but steady decline in the number of US scientists can be observed. 

The United Kingdom continues to rank second with 60 scientists, although it has 5 more ranking scientists than last year. The third spot, however, was taken by China, which currently has 41 ranking scientists. This is a significant increase from only 22 ranking scientists in 2020.  The other leading countries are Germany with 37 scientists, and Canada with 34 scientists. Switzerland with 29 leading scientists in 2021, has seen a significant decline in the number of leading scientists since last year when they had 34 ranking researchers listed. The number of Italian scientists also decreased by 25%, from 16 in 2020 to 12 in 2021. For other leading countries, the numbers have stayed consistent across the last 3 years with only minor, insignificant fluctuations.

Please note that the country associated with a scientist is based on their affiliated research institution according to Google Scholar, not on their actual nationality.

Institutions with the highest number of leading computer scientists

In the 2021 edition of our ranking, Stanford University is once again back as the leader, with 40 scientists affiliated with that university included in the ranking, which is the same number of researchers as in 2020. It replaced MIT, who topped the ranking last year, but 5 of their scientists didn’t make it to the list this year, and with 35 researchers listed in 2021 is now ranked fourth, after the University of California, Berkeley with 38 scientists and Carnegie Mellon University with 37 scholars.

It is worth noting though, that no scientists from Stanford University or MIT made it to the top 1% of the ranking, where the only institution with more than one scholar is Carnegie Mellon University (with 2 scholars).

University of California, Berkeley saw an increase in the number of ranked scientists from 35 in 2020 to 38 in 2021. A similar increase was observed for scholars from the University of California, Los Angeles which had 17 ranking researchers in 2021, in comparison to 14 last year.

The most significant increase in the number of ranking scientists was noted for private companies. Google, the highest-ranking private company, jumped from 17 researchers in 2020 to 24 in 2021. Microsoft Research, saw an even higher increase, from 12 scholars listed in 2020 to 21 in 2021, almost doubling its pool of leading scientists.

Among 22 leading institutions 16 are universities based in the US, three are based in Europe (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and ETH Zurich from Switzerland, KU Leuven from Belgium, and the University of Oxford from the UK) and two are private American companies (Google and Microsoft).

H-index ranking – leaders, averages, and distribution

For the fourth consecutive time, Professor Anil Jain, from the Michigan State University, US, tops the list of leading scientists with a high H-index of 196. Professor Jain is famously known for his seminal work in biometrics. This year though, the second place taken by a Canadian Professor Yoshua Bengio from the University of Montreal, with an H-index of 182.

For Europe, Professor Andrew Zisserman from the University of Oxford, UK is once again ranked the first in the region, but this time he’s also listed in the top 1% with a world ranking of 9. 

Professor Guanrong Chen from City University of Hong Kong continues to leads the top list in Asia with an H-index of 154 and world ranking at 18. 

For Oceania, Professor Rajkumar Buyya from the University of Melbourne in Australia, is on top of the list with a world ranking of 23, a significant increase from spot 27 in 2020. 

Professor Carlos A. Coello Coello who is affiliated with the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute (CINVESTAV-IPN) in Mexico is the first in Latin America with a world ranking of 284, also a huge rise from place 314 last year.

The average H-index for the top 1% of scientists is 176.5 (an increase from 167 in 2020) against an average of 90.8 for all 1000 scientists included in the ranking (an increase from 85 in 2020). 

The scholar with the lowest index value who made it to the ranking in 2021 has an H-index of 72, which shows a consistent upward trend from 56 in 2018 and 66 in 2020, suggesting an overall development of the scientific community.

The average number of articles indexed in DBLP for the 1% scientists in the ranking is 592 against an average of 300 for all 1000 scholars.

The average number of citations for the top 1% of scientists is 232,120 against an average of 49,673 for all 1000 scholars. The highest cited scientist is Professor Geoffrey Hinton from the University of Toronto, Canada with 438,777 citations.

The 7th edition of our ranking is dedicated to the memory of Professor Ronald Graham who passed away on the 6th of July, 2020. He was a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement which he received in 2003.

You can learn more about the methodology used to create the ranking here.

About Guide2Research

All research was coordinated by Imed Bouchrika, PhD, a computer scientist with a well-established record of collaboration on a number of international research projects with different partners from the academic community. His role was to make sure all data remained unbiased, accurate, and up-to-date.

Guide2Research is the number one research portal for computer science. Our mission is to make it easier for professors, research fellows, and those studying for a PhD or a master’s degree to progress with their research and to ensure they are always up-to-date with the latest conferences around the world and publications related to their work. Guide2Research is also involved in the publication of an annual ranking of leading scientists in the field of computer science and electronics.

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