Awards and Honors
Computer scientist Cormac Flanagan wins Sloan
By Tim Stephens
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded a Sloan Research
Fellowship in computer science to Cormac Flanagan, assistant
professor of computer science at UCSC.
Flanagan, whose research focuses on new techniques for ferreting
out the bugs in computer software, is among 116 young scientists,
mathematicians, and economists selected this year to receive
the prestigious fellowships. The Sloan Research Fellowships
are intended to provide crucial and flexible funds to outstanding
young researchers early in their academic careers. They include
a grant of $45,000 that provides largely unrestricted support
The primary goal of Flanagan's research is to develop tools
for finding software defects and ensuring software reliability.
According to a recent estimate from the National Institute of
Standards and Technology, software defects cost the U.S. economy
about $60 billion annually.
"This is an issue that is just crying out for more research,"
One area of software validation where Flanagan has made significant
contributions is in addressing the challenges posed by computer
systems that run multiple operations simultaneously. "Multithreaded"
software in which different parts of a program are executed
concurrently is increasingly common, but programmers must be
careful to ensure that all the threads can run at the same time
without interfering with each other.
"I sometimes tell people there are leprechauns running
around inside the computer, and I make sure the leprechauns
don't trip over one another," Flanagan said.
Flanagan earned a B.S. in computer science and mathematics
at University College Dublin and worked as a software engineer
in Ireland for a year before coming to the United States for
graduate school. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science
from Rice University and worked in Silicon Valley for six years
as a principal research scientist at the Systems Research Center
(now run by Hewlett-Packard).
In 2003, Flanagan joined the Computer Science Department at
UCSC, where he is part of a growing group of faculty conducting
research in software engineering.
"UCSC is increasingly prominent in the area of software
engineering, and the growth of the engineering school as a whole
has been remarkable. I think this award is illustrative of the
growing recognition of this campus as a research powerhouse,"
The Sloan Research Fellowship Program is one of the oldest
fellowship programs in the country. It began in 1955 as a means
of encouraging research by young scholars at a critical time
in their careers when other support is difficult to obtain.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropic nonprofit institution,
was established in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan Jr., then-president
and chief executive officer of the General Motors Corporation.
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