Rajeev Alur Named 2016 AAAS Fellow

Ten professors from the University of Pennsylvania have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Rajeev Alur

Among them is Rajeev Alur, Zisman Family Professor in Penn Engineering’s Department of Computer and Information Science. He was recognized “for fundamental contributions to logics, models and analysis techniques for real-time and hybrid systems.”

Alur’s research is focused on developing tools for computer-assisted programing. He is the leader of ExCAPE, or Expeditions in Computer Augmented Program Engineering, a $10 million NSF project for making computer programming faster, easier and more intuitive.

“Computers have evolved at a dramatic pace, but the technology that’s used to develop programs and software is evolving comparatively slowly,” Alur says. “What it means to ‘code’ hasn’t changed much in the last 20 to 30 years. It’s still done by expert programmers and is quite time-consuming, expensive and error-prone.”

The tools that Alur and his colleagues are developing would allow humans and computer systems to essentially collaborate on a piece of code. Provided higher-order goals for a given program, such as one that would help a self-driving car to parallel park, these tools would be able to give feedback to the programmer about errors in the program and even propose corrections.

The same approach could also find uses in teaching programming or advanced mathematics, showing students not just whether they’ve gotten an answer wrong, but where errors have crept into their logic.

As a 2016 AAAS Fellow, Alur joins a class of 391 members honored for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Election as a Fellow of AAAS, the world’s largest scientific society, is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

“We are delighted that Rajeev Alur has been elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science,” says Sampath Kannan, Henry Salvatori Professor and chair of the Department of Computer and Information Science. “Rajeev is a world leader in the area of Formal Methods, which has had an enormous positive impact on the safety and correctness of the computational systems we use, through his work and the work of others.”

Alur is also the recipient of a 2016 Alonzo Church Award and was named a 2013 Simons Investigator.

The rest of Penn’s class of 2016 AAAS Fellows can be found here.