ISR Distinguished Speaker

Jan Vitek

Professor, College of Computer and Information Science
“The Case for the Three R's of Systems Research: Repeatability, Reproducibility, and Rigor”
Friday, February 20, 2015 - 3:00pm to 4:00pm
Faculty Host: 

RSVPs are not required.

Donald Bren Hall (building #314), room 6011

No cost to attend.

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Computer systems research spans sub-disciplines that include embedded systems, programming languages, networking, and operating systems. In this talk my contention is that a number of structural factors inhibit quality systems research. Symptoms of the problem include unrepeatable and unreproduced results as well as results that are either devoid of meaning or that measure the wrong thing. I will illustrate the impact of these issues on our research output with examples from the development and empirical evaluation of the Schism real-time garbage collection algorithm that is shipped with the FijiVM -- a Java virtual machine for embedded and mobile devices.  I will argue that our field should foster: repetition of results, independent reproduction, as well as rigorous evaluation. I will outline some baby steps taken by several computer conferences. In particular I will focus on the introduction of Artifact Evaluation Committees or AECs to ECOOP, OOPLSA, PLDI and soon POPL. The goal of the AECs is to encourage author to package the software artifacts that they used to support the claims made in their paper and to submit these artifacts for evaluation. AECs were carefully designed to provide positive feedback to the authors that take the time to create repeatable research.

About the Speaker: 

Jan Vitek is a Professor of Computer Science at Northeastern University.

Over the years, Vitek worked on a number of topics related to programming languages, their design, use, and implementation. With Noble and Potter, he proposed the notion of flexible alias control which became know as Ownership Types.  Vitek led the Ovm project which produced the first real-time Java virtual machine to be flight tested on a ScanEagle drone (he is sure no one was harmed). Outcomes of this project include the Schism real-time garbage collection algorithm and the FijiVM -- a production VM for embedded systems. More recently, Vitek worked on dynamic languages, trying to make sense of JavaScript and to design a new language called, Thorn. Nowadays, he spends his time with statisticians and data scientists.

Vitek believes that he was elected Chair of SIGPLAN by accident in 2012. Since then he has been busy trying to rock the boat to make sure this does not happen again.

In his spare time, Vitek enjoys organizing conferences and sitting on PCs (over 25 in the last decade). He founded the MOS (mobile objects), IWACO (alias control), STOP (gradual typing), and TRANSACT (transactional memory) workshop series. He was the first program chair of VEE and chaired ESOP, ECOOP, Coordination and TOOLS. He was the general chair of PLDI (in Beijing!), ISMM and LCTES.  He may still be sitting on the steering committees of ECOOP, JTRES, ICFP, OOPLSA, POPL, PLDI, LCTES, and ESOP.