Friday, December 23, 2016

Mariangiola Dezani-Ciancaglini: 70, but still going strong

Mariangiola Dezani-Ciancaglini, one of the most influential Italian (theoretical) computer scientists, turned 70 yesterday. As witnessed by her DBLP entry, Mariangiola is still very active in research and is a prime example of a scientist who continues to challenge herself, to produce excellent work and to mentor young researchers at an age at which many are retired.

The purpose of this post is to celebrate Mariangiola's 70 birthday, hoping that some of the readers of this blog who are not familiar with her work will be tempted to read it and to spread it amongst their students.

Mariangiola Dezani has been one of the leading researchers in the foundations of programming languages and, in particular, of their type systems for about 40 years. She has offered seminal contributions to that field, introducing new type systems that deeply influenced theoretical developments and its practical applications.

In addition to her outstanding research activities, she has been a mentor and role model for young researchers, many of whom now have leading positions at high-class universities. Moreover, she has tirelessly supported female students and researchers in computer science at all stages of their career. She has turned the Department of Computer Science at the University of Turin, Italy, into a hotbed of research on the theory of programming languages. The group led by Simona Ronchi Della Rocca and her is one of the largest research teams in that field in the world, and is one of those with largest percentage of female researchers and students.

Mariangiola's research activity over the years has followed a path in which theoretical developments have been inspired by the evolution of programming languages: from lambda-calculus models in the 1980s, providing foundations for functional programming languages, to object orientation in the 1990s, to dynamic and distributed contexts with behavioural types for web services and session types since the year 2000.

Mariangiola's main scientific achievement in the first phase of her research career was the introduction of intersection type assignment systems, which were largely used as finitary descriptions of models of the lambda-calculus. Intersection types are one example of a theoretical concept developed by Mariangiola Dezani that has later had profound influence on the practice of programming languages. Indeed, their use in the typing discipline for a language has allowed compilers to generate more efficient code for different instantiations. In object-oriented languages, intersection types are employed, amongst other things, in expressing mixins (constructs that permit code reuse avoiding the ambiguities of multiple inheritance). They have also been advocated and are used for manipulating XML and semi-structured data in languages such as CDuce.

Since the year 2000, Mariangiola's research has been mainly devoted to the study of self-adapting types for ensuring safety and liveness of communication protocols also in presence of unexpected events. This work has offered seminal contributions to the study of session types and has led to practical applications whose impact will be felt for years to come. Mariangiola first proposed a formalisation of Java with session types, which was later applied to the design and implementation of SJ (Session Java). These contributions initiated a flurry of research activity aiming at applying session types to many real-world programming languages. She also first studied a theory of progress in the session types for the pi-calculus, whose core theory was later extended to multi-party session types. This formalism became the core of the current version of an open-source protocol description language, Scribble, which is developed at Red Hat and Imperial. This language is used in the multi-million-USD Ocean Observatory Initiative project, whose purpose is to build an infrastructure of sensors and other computing devices located on the ocean floor so that oceanographers to get data about the health of the marine ecosystem. This is an example of the effectiveness and practical impact of the deep and elegant theoretical work carried out by Mariangiola Dezani.

A belated happy 70th birthday, Mariangiola!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Great hiring opportunities for female researchers at the University of Groningen

Jorge A. Pérez asked me to post this very interesting opportunity for tenure-track positions at the University of Groningen, targeted to talented female researchers (see Feel free to contact Jorge if you work in areas related to "Fundamental CS" (using the terminology in the call) and are interested in applying.

Rosalind Franklin Fellowships at the University of Groningen

The University of Groningen (The Netherlands) initiated the prestigious Rosalind Franklin Fellowship programme to promote the advancement of talented international researchers at the highest levels of the institution. The ambitious programme has been running since 2007 and has financed over 90 Fellows.

The Rosalind Franklin Fellowship programme is aimed at women in industry, academia or research institutes who have a PhD and would like a career as full professor in a European top research university. The Fellowship is only awarded to outstanding researchers. New Fellows are given:
  • A tenure track position to work towards full professorship within a period of ten years;
  • Budget for a PhD student to enable them to make a flying start.
Successful candidates will be expected to establish an independent, largely externally funded research programme in collaboration with colleagues at
our University and elsewhere.

The University of Groningen has 13 tenure track positions available in this programme, currently co-funded by the European Union.
Within these, the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences (FMNS) has five Rosalind Franklin Fellowships to offer, including positions on
  • Fundamental Computer Science (Data Management, Theory of Computing, Algorithms, Networks, Security)
  • Artificial Intelligence (logic, neuromorphic computing, cognitive modelling or robotics)
  • Fundamental Mathematics (Algebra, Geometry, Analysis), Mathematical Data Analysis, Complex Systems
Ambitious female academics are invited to apply for these positions before February 1, 2017.

More information about the positions (including eligibility conditions and conditions of employment) is available on:

See also:
- The applicants guide:

- The Johann Bernoulli Institute for Mathematics and Computer Science:

Martino Lupini receives the 2015 Sacks Prize of the Association for Symbolic Logic

The 2015 Sacks Prize of the Association for Symbolic Logic for the best doctoral dissertation in Logic will be shared by Omer Ben-Neria, University of California, Los Angeles, and Martino Lupini, California Institute of Technology. The prize citations can be found here and are also appended to this post for ease of reference.  Congratulations to the prize recipients!

Omer Ben-Neria received his Ph.D. in 2015 from Tel Aviv University under the supervision of Moti Gitik.

Martino Lupini received his Ph.D. in 2015 from York University, Toronto under the supervision of Ilijas Farah. He received his bachelor degree at the University of Parma (under the supervision of Celestina Cotti Ferrero) and a master degree from the University of Pisa advised by Mauro Di Nasso with a thesis entitled Recurrence and Szemerédi’s Theorem.

Martino Lupini is the second Italian young researcher to receive this accolade; the first was Matteo Viale in 2006. The successes of young Italian logicians witness the quality of the research in logic in Italy. This is yet another vindication of the analysis of the European Commission on the quality of research in Italian universities, compared with the resources available to Italian researchers: "Strong public science base despite an overall underinvestment in research and innovation." The executive report on Italy also states "R&D investment has slightly increased in recent years but the gap with the EU average is still quite significant." I hope that Italy will devote more of its budget to supporting its universities and research in the future. A starved system cannot continue producing young researchers like Martino Lupini for much longer.

Prize citations

Ben-Neria received his Ph.D. in 2015 from Tel Aviv University under the supervision of Moti Gitik. In his thesis, The Possible Structure of the Mitchell Order, he proved the remarkable result that, under suitable large cardinal assumptions on the cardinal $\kappa$, every well-founded partial order of cardinality $\kappa$ can be realized as the Mitchell order of $\kappa$ in some forcing extension. The Prizes and Awards Committee noted that the proof is a tour de force combination of sophisticated forcing techniques with the methods of inner model theory.

Lupini received his Ph.D. in 2015 from York University, Toronto under the supervision of Ilijas Farah. His thesis, Operator Algebras and Abstract Classification, includes a beautiful result establishing a fundamental dichotomy in the classification problem for the automorphisms of a separable unital $C^*\/$-algebra up to unitary equivalence, as well as a proof that the Gurarij operator space is unique, homogeneous, and universal among separable 1-exact operator spaces. The Prizes and Awards Committee noted that his thesis exhibits a high level of originality, as well as technical sophistication, in a broad spectrum of areas of logic and operator algebras.

Alonzo Church Award 2017: Call for Nominations

Gordon Plotkin asked me to post the call for nominations for the 2016 Alonzo Church Award for Outstanding Contributions to Logic and Computation. The first edition of the award was given to Rajeev Alur and David Dill for their invention of timed automata, see: I strongly encourage members of the community to nominate their favourite paper(s) for this accolade. See the call for the rules regarding eligibility and on how to submit your nomination. 

The 2017 Alonzo Church Award for Outstanding Contributions to Logic and Computation

Call for Nominations


An annual award, called the Alonzo Church Award for Outstanding Contributions to Logic and Computation, was established in 2015 by the ACM Special Interest Group for Logic and Computation (SIGLOG), the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science (EATCS), the European Association for Computer Science Logic (EACSL), and the Kurt Gödel Society (KGS). The award is for an outstanding contribution represented by a paper or by a small group of papers published within the past 25 years. This time span allows the lasting impact and depth of the contribution to have been established. The award can be given to an individual, or to a group of individuals who have collaborated on the research. For the rules governing this award, see:

The 2016 Alonzo Church Award was given to Rajeev Alur and David Dill for their invention of timed automata, see:

Eligibility and Nominations

The contribution must have appeared in a paper or papers published within the past 25 years. Thus, for the 2017 award, the cut-off date is January 1, 1992. When a paper has appeared in a conference and then in a journal, the date of the journal publication will determine the cut-off date. In addition, the contribution must not yet have received recognition via a major award, such as the Turing Award, the Kanellakis Award, or the Gödel Prize. (The nominee(s) may have received such awards for other contributions.) While the contribution can consist of conference or journal papers, journal papers will be given a preference.

Nominations for the 2017 award are now being solicited. The nominating letter must summarise the contribution and make the case that it is fundamental and outstanding. The nominating letter can have multiple co-signers. Self-nominations are excluded. Nominations must include: a proposed citation (up to 25 words); a succinct (100-250 words) description of the contribution; and a detailed statement (not exceeding four pages) to justify the nomination. Nominations may also be accompanied by supporting letters and other evidence of worthiness.

Nominations are due by March 1, 2017, and should be submitted to

Presentation of the Award

The 2017 award will be presented at the CSL conference, the annual meeting of the European Association for Computer Science Logic. The award will be accompanied by an invited lecture by the award winner, or by one of the award winners. The awardee(s) will receive a certificate and a cash prize of USD 2,000. If there are multiple awardees, this amount will be shared.

Award Committee

The 2017 Alonzo Church Award Committee consists of the following four members: Natarajan Shankar, Catuscia Palamidessi, Gordon Plotkin (chair), and Moshe Vardi.