June 24, 2019

Purdue University launches new research center on programming principles and software systems

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In a move that recognizes deep changes underway in the construction of computer software, Purdue University’s Office of the Executive Vice President for Research and Partnerships on Monday (June 24) announced the launch of a new research center that aims to connect fundamental research in programming languages (PL) and software engineering with domains such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. 

The new Purdue Center for Programming Principles and Software Systems (PurPL) gathers researchers from the Department of Computer Science and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

“The way software is built is fundamentally changing” said computer science professor Tiark Rompf, who is co-directing the new PurPL center with his colleague, electrical and computer engineering professor Milind Kulkarni. “There is a big shift away from hand-coded rules based on logic toward algorithms that are learned from data. This is sometimes described as Software 2.0.

 “At the same time, software must be built from the start with resilience against adversarial actors in mind. Efficiency considerations demand a shift toward novel hardware architectures, which are hard to program.”

“PL research can provide answers to some of the essential questions,” Kulkarni said. “Be it safe and robust AI, formal verification for smart contracts, or compilers for emerging hardware architectures, PL research cannot solve these problems alone, but it will inevitably be part of the solution. Hence, we are excited to set up the new PurPL center as a home for collaborations with our colleagues in these other domains.”

Supported by large government grants from various agencies and an industry consortium including Facebook, Microsoft, and AI chip startup SambaNova Systems, the PurPL center will work with its partners in industry and academia to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face. The founding group of affiliated faculty includes 10 experts in PL, covering all areas from theory to systems, as well as eight experts in domains spanning AI, machine learning, security, cryptography, as well as computational science and engineering, with a proven track record of successful collaboration and tech transfer.

“Our industry partners appreciate the early access to cutting-edge research, opportunities for knowledge-sharing, as well as structured interactions with faculty and students.” Rompf said. “Companies are constantly looking to hire the best and brightest, so interacting with students and finding the right ones for internships and full-time positions is a key reason why companies participate in centers like PurPL.”

PurPL Fest, a kick-off symposium at Purdue University, will be hosted concurrently with the annual Midwest PL Summit Workshop on Sept 23-24. A number of world-class experts on programming languages, artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and computer architecture have been confirmed as speakers. 

Writer: Emily Kinsell, 765-494-0669, emily@purdue.edu 

Media Contact: Brian Huchel, 765-494-2084, bhuchel@purdue.edu 

Sources: Milind Kulkarni, milind@purdue.edu

Tiark Rompf, tiark@purdue.edu

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