Photo of Daniel Jackson

Daniel Jackson

Professor, Computer Science; MacVicar Fellow
Software Design Group
Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab
Dept. of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Contact | Directions to CSAIL | MIT map | Floor map | Finding my office | Local hotels

Research Interests. I'm interested in finding ways to make software more dependable and easier to use, and to reduce the cost of development. My research to date has focused on lightweight formal methods, in particular Alloy, a language for modelling software that is supported by a fully automatic analyzer based on SAT. I am currently working with my students on design analysis, checking code against designs, generating code from models, constructing end-to-end dependability cases, and the role of conceptual models in ensuring good design.

Quick Links
My book: MIT Press catalog entry, resources, buy from
Alloy: website, workshop, Scientific American article
Software Design Group: publications, projects, people, my talks

University Activities. I am an associate director of CSAIL, president of MIT Hillel and the faculty director of MISTI-MEET. 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.

Professional Activities. Recent keynotes at ISSTA 2015 and SATURN 2016 (great sketchnote by MJ Broadbent), and upcoming award lecture at FSE 2016. 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; most recently, I worked with Protom International on the design of a new proton therapy machine, and am working with MIT Professional Education and Accenture Solutions on training programs for software engineers. I am a member of IFIP Working Groups 2.9 (Requirements Engineering) and 2.3 (Programming Methodology).

Community Activities. I am a trustee of Gann Academy. I was a member of the Crystal Lake Working Group in Newton from 2013-15. I started Todah VeZimrah with Joshua Jacobson and was a founder of Yedid Nefesh.

Recent thoughts on teaching: What I learned from a nanoquiz
From 6.170 (Fa13): A fast (and live) introduction to JavaScript
Fa16, Fa15, Fa14, Fa13, Sp13, Fa12, Sp12, Fa11: 6.170: Software Studio
Sp14: 6.813: User Interface Design and Implementation
Sp10, Fa09, Fa08, Sp08, Fa07: 6.005: Elements of Software Construction; Paper about 6.005's design
Sp06: 6.826: Principles of Computer Systems
Sp05: 6.894: Lightweight Formal Methods
Sp01, Sp03, Sp09: 6.033: Computer Systems Engineering
Fa01, Fa02, Fa04, Fa05, Fa06: 6.170: Lab in Software Engineering; Lecture Notes
Sp02: 6.898: Advanced Topics in Software Design
Fa97, Fa99: 6.001: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

Photography. My current project is Soulstrong: Portraits of Resilience, a series of images and stories about depression and related challenges in the MIT community. I also recently 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. A photo from this series was included in the annual auction of the Boston Photographic Resource Center. Blog 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.