PhD Alum Charlie Curtsinger Wins Honorable Mention for Dennis Ritchie Doctoral Dissertation Award

Charlie Curtsinger

Charlie Curtsinger, a 2016 graduate of the UMass CICS PhD program advised by Professor Emery Berger and now a faculty member at Grinnell College, has been awarded an Honorable Mention for the Dennis Ritchie Doctoral Dissertation Award.

The Dennis M. Ritchie Doctoral Dissertation Award, named after the creator of the C programming language and co-creator of the Unix operating system, was created to recognize research in software systems and to encourage the creativity that Dennis Ritchie embodied, providing a reminder of Ritchie's legacy and what a difference one person can make in the field of software systems research. This is an annual award presented in alternating years at SOSP and OSDI. Only two dissertations a year from around the world receive the award itself or an honorable mention.

According to Landon Cox, professor of computer science at Duke University, "Charlie's dissertation describes three systems that collectively represent a major advance in how we monitor and understand a computer program's performance. Charlie's work on performance evaluation and profiling exemplifies the best of our field: the work is elegant, insightful, and practical."

Todd Mytkowicz, a researcher at Microsoft Research, says "Charlie's dissertation is a huge step forward in this sense: he provides practical, useful, and important methods which are rooted in sound experimental science in addition to actual tools that developers can download."

Kaushik Veeraghavan, a researcher at Facebook, notes that Charlie's dissertation has already had an impact on how Facebook develops and optimizes the performance of its systems. Veeraghavan says that Charlie's dissertation "has influenced how he approaches performance optimizations in Facebook's systems," and that one of Charlie's systems, "Coz", which received a Best Paper Award at SOSP 2015, the premier conference in software systems, "has influenced how several teams at Facebook are approaching performance profiling and optimization."

Curtsinger received the award on Nov. 2 at the USENIX  Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation in Savannah, GA.