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.