Photo of Daniel Jackson

Daniel Jackson

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

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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.

Book website here; discussion forum; publisher page here; ACM tech talk.

Places to buy it:
Independent bookstores
Barnes & Noble

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 Electrum's temporal logic operators in the latest version (see new online book by the Electrum team). Some recentish cool things: exploiting Spectre/Meltdown, game design, memory models, peer-to-peer, storm surge protection, radiotherapy.

Quick Links
Design book: book website, buy from independent bookstores, buy from Amazon
Alloy book: MIT Press catalog entry, resources, buy from independent bookstore, buy from
Alloy: website, Intro and video (CACM, 2020), Scientific American
Software Design Group: website, publications, projects, people, my talks
Photography: galleries, resilience book

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. With Sanjay Sarma and colleagues, I am an author of a proposal for a new kind of university.

Talks. Recent keynotes and distinguished lectures: CMU S3D (Dec 2022), SEKE (July 2022), NASA Formal Methods Conf (May 2022), Princeton (Mar 2020), SPLASH 18, ABZ 18, ICSE 2017, FSE 2016, UIUC (2016), UMass Amherst (2016), SATURN 2016 (great sketchnote by MJ Broadbent), ISSTA 2015. Recent summer schools: EROSS 2020, SSFT 2019. More talks with slides & videos here.

Professional. 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, with MIT Professional Education and Accenture Solutions on security education for software architects, with Toyota on autonomous cars, and with NASA on air-traffic control. I am a member of IFIP Working Group 2.3 (Programming Methodology). I received the 2016 ACM SIGSOFT Impact Award with Mandana Vaziri (for the first paper on verifying code with SAT), and the 2017 ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award. I am an ACM Fellow.

Teaching. Why competition is toxic and other postcards (signup here).
An advanced (and live) intro to JavaScript. A podcast series made a while back for Accenture.
Fa23, Fa22: 6.1040: Software Design Studio
Fa21, Fa20, Fa19, Fa18, 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. 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. Series 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 received her rabbinical ordination from Yeshivat Maharat. I started Todah VeZimrah with Joshua Jacobson.