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IIT Madras Faculty wins 'SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award'

IIT Madras Faculty wins 'SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award'

  • 20th Oct 2023
  • Press Release

Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) Faculty Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan has been conferred the 'SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award' recently. Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at IIT Madras. He works on building robust, secure and scalable systems using programming language technology.

The Award is given by ACM Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN), to an institution or individual(s) to recognize the development of a software system that has had a significant impact on programming language research, implementations, and tools. The impact may be reflected in the widespread adoption of the system or its underlying concepts by the wider programming language community either in research projects, in the open-source community, or commercially.

Many programming languages such as C++, Java, GoLang, etc., have 'multicore support,' which refers to the ability to run multiple tasks at the same time on different cores on the same processor. Unlike many of these languages, the unique challenge that Multicore OCaml project was trying to address is the fact that multicore support was being added to a programming language that is more than 25 years old, one which is favoured for its correctness, with millions of lines of industrial strength code out there.

Congratulating Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan on the recognition, Prof. V. Krishna Nandivada, Head, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras, said, "Task parallel languages that let the programmer express the program logic in a parallel manner is the mantra for exploiting the power of the current multi-core era. Extending OCaml with parallelism is an important step towards this, especially considering the increasing interest among academics and industry practitioners in OCaml. And the current award attests to that."

Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan along with a team of students and project staff at IIT Madras, and collaborators from University of Cambridge, INRIA and Jane Street, worked on retrofitting native support concurrency and parallelism to the OCaml programming language. The effort was started originally in the University of Cambridge in 2014, where Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan was a Senior Research Fellow and continued for 8 years. During the course of the work, the team published several seminar papers including award winners.

Highlighting the importance of this project, Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan, Adjunct Professor, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, IIT Madras, said, "OCaml is an expressive, safe and pragmatic programming language favoured for critical writing critical software such as formal program verification tools and fintech software where software bugs can lead to catastrophic failures. The success of Multicore OCaml project is that it added fundamental capabilities to the OCaml language while preserving its favoured qualities."

Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan added, "The award is a testament to the importance of open-source software development. OCaml is a truly international project with core developers belonging to France, UK, India and Japan, spanning multiple institutions both in academia and the industry and many other individual contributors from all over the world."

Dr. KC Sivaramakrishnan's research focusses on designing better ways to write programs for modern multicore processors and distributed systems. There are several aspects to this such as correctness, efficiency and oft overlooked aspect - the maintainability of such programs as part of a large software project.