Professor, Computer Science
My software design book is out! It's the result of my last eight years of research, trying to figure out what conceptual clarity really is, and how to achieve it. Thank you to all my colleagues and students whose encouragements and feedback have helped me reach this milestone.
Research. My main projects nowadays are: ongoing work on concept design; new programming paradigms with Geoffrey Litt (eg, Wildcard); languages and tools for drawing diagrams, with Josh Pollock; achieving policy compliance (for things like GDPR) using concepts, on an NSF-funded project with Danny Weitzner and Joan Feigenbaum. I'm an advocate of lightweight formal methods and the role of design thinking in software. Alloy, the language I developed with my students, continues to grow in popularity and was extended with temporal logic operators in the latest version (Nov 2021). Some recentish cool things: exploiting Spectre/Meltdown, game design, memory models, peer-to-peer, storm surge protection, radiotherapy.
University Activities. I am an associate director of CSAIL, and faculty director of MISTI-MEET, and was president of MIT Hillel from 2012-16. I am a member of the editorial board of the MIT Press, and the advisory board of MEET. I ran Dinner@6 for several years with Irwin Pless, chaired a task force on learning environments for MITx, and was previously the chair of graduate students in computer science. I was honored to receive the 2017 Arthur C. Smith Award and the 2018 MLK Leadership Award.
Professional Activities. Upcoming lectures at 9th Summer School on Formal Techniques. Keynotes at SPLASH 18, ABZ 18, ICSE 2017, FSE 2016, SATURN 2016 (great sketchnote by MJ Broadbent), ISSTA 2015, and distinguished lectures in 2016 at UIUC and UMass Amherst. I chaired a National Academies study on software dependability and certification, and was a member of another study investigating unintended acceleration. I have consulted for many companies; I worked with Protom International on the design of a new proton therapy machine, and am currently working with MIT Professional Education and Accenture Solutions on security education for software architects. I am a member of IFIP Working Group 2.3 (Programming Methodology). I received the 2016 ACM SIGSOFT Impact Award with Mandana Vaziri for our 2001 paper on verifying code with SAT, and the 2017 ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award. I am an ACM Fellow.
Why competition is toxic and other postcards (signup here).
Photography. Site here. My recent project Portraits of Resilience, a series of images and stories about depression and related challenges, has its own website and was published as book by MIT Press. I made a book of portraits of the administrative assistants of CSAIL, which was printed by Edition One but can also be bought from Blurb. Recent portfolios include images of the Stata Center, the building I work in, and Dark Machines, a series of images of laboratory machines commissioned (and now acquired) by the MIT Museum. Blog here. Sries of immigrant professors here.
Personal. My father Michael Jackson is a software engineering researcher whose ideas have influenced my work greatly. My mother is a cookery writer and novelist. My brother David is the founder of Seeking Alpha; Tim is an entrepreneur and writer; and Adam is a classicist turned business strategist. My wife Claudia is a member of the class of 2018 in Yeshivat Maharat. I started Todah VeZimrah with Joshua Jacobson.