Prof. Reps honored with SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award

Prof. Tom Reps, a member of the UW-Madison Computer Sciences faculty since 1985, has been honored with the Programming Languages Achievement Award.  The award is given by ACM SIGPLAN (the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Programming Languages) to recognize those who have made significant and lasting contributions to the field of programming languages.

At UW-Madison, Reps holds the Rajiv and Ritu Batra Chair in Computer Sciences and is also J. Barkley Rosser Professor of Computer Sciences.

The honor was announced this month at POPL 2018, ACM SIGPLAN’s 45th Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages, held in Los Angeles.

The citation honoring Prof. Reps reads:

Thomas Reps has made exceptional contributions to the field of programming languages, on a diverse range of topics that include incremental computation, program slicing and dataflow analysis, shape analysis, and analysis of binary code.

Tom’s dissertation research on generating language-based environments applies incremental attribute grammar evaluation to problems such as name analysis and type checking, and is broadly applicable to a wide range of languages. This work has been commercialized successfully by Grammatech and it has deeply influenced research on integrated development environments. Tom’s work on program slicing and dataflow analysis builds on an elegant framework for solving context-free reachability problems. This work has been extremely influential in the academic community, and it has had huge impact in industry (e.g., IBM products for security analysis and Microsoft’s tools for verifying device drivers). Tom’s work on shape analysis relies on three-valued logic to solve difficult problems in shape analysis, and has had major impact on the verification community. His more recent work on analyzing x86 binary code has applied techniques from his previous work on dataflow analysis and slicing to the intensely challenging problem of analyzing machine code with significant success, and has been commercialized by GrammaTech.

A common thread in all of Tom’s research is that it provides elegant solutions to deep foundational problems. Many of these solutions have become widely adopted, resulting in an unusual level of practical and industrial impact. His publications exhibit an exemplary degree of scholarship, with precise exposition that facilitates adoption by the community. He has received numerous significant awards throughout his career, starting with the 1983 ACM Dissertation Award, and his citation impact is among the highest in the entire field of programming languages.