News 2017

Maria Christakis receives Facebook Faculty Research Award

December 2017
Maria Christakis, an MPI-SWS faculty member, has received a Facebook Faculty Research Award. The award is given in recognition of Maria's work on combining static and dynamic program analysis, which is of particular relevance to Facebook as they are developing sophisticated program analysis tools to handle real-world code.

Multiple Tenure-Track Faculty Openings

September 2017
Applications are invited for faculty positions at all career stages in computer science, with a particular emphasis on systems (broadly construed). We expect multiple positions to be filled in systems, but exceptional candidates in other areas of computer science are also strongly encouraged to apply.

A doctoral degree in computer science or related areas and an outstanding research record (commensurate for the applicant's career stage) are required. Successful candidates are expected to build a team and pursue a highly visible research agenda, both independently and in collaboration with other groups.

MPI-SWS is part of a network of over 80 Max Planck Institutes, Germany's premier basic-research organisations. MPIs have an established record of world-class, foundational research in the sciences, technology, and the humanities. The institute offers a unique environment that combines the best aspects of a university department and a research laboratory: Faculty enjoy full academic freedom, lead a team of doctoral students and post-docs, and have the opportunity to teach university courses; at the same time, they enjoy ongoing institutional funding in addition to third-party funds, a technical infrastructure unrivaled for an academic institution, as well as internationally competitive compensation.

The institute is located in the German cities of Saarbruecken and Kaiserslautern, in the tri-border area of Germany, France, and Luxembourg. We maintain an international and diverse work environment and seek applications from outstanding researchers worldwide. The working language is English; knowledge of the German language is not required for a successful career at the institute.

Qualified candidates should apply on our application website ( To receive full consideration, applications should be received by December 1st, 2017.

The institute is committed to increasing the representation of minorities, women, and individuals with physical disabilities. We particularly encourage such individuals to apply. The initial tenure-track appointment is for five years; it can be extended to seven years based on a midterm evaluation in the fourth year. A permanent contract can be awarded upon a successful tenure evaluation in the sixth year.

Derek Dreyer receives Robin Milner Young Researcher Award

September 2017
MPI-SWS faculty member Derek Dreyer has received the 2017 Robin Milner Young Researcher Award, which is given by ACM SIGPLAN to recognize outstanding contributions by young investigators in the area of programming languages.  The award citation reads as follows:

"Derek Dreyer has made deep, creative research contributions of great breadth. His areas of impact are as diverse as module systems, data abstraction in higher-order languages, mechanized proof systems and techniques, and concurrency models and semantics. He has refactored and generalized the complex module systems of SML and OCaml; devised logical relations and techniques that enabled advances in reasoning about higher-order imperative programs; and developed novel separation logics for modular verification of low-level concurrent programs. His research papers are a model of clarity and depth, and he has worked actively to translate his foundational ideas into practice – most recently with the RustBelt project to provide formal foundations for the Rust language. Additionally, Dreyer has contributed leadership, support, and mentorship in activities such as the PLMW series of workshops, which are instrumental in growing the next generation of PL researchers."

Previous recipients of the award have included Stephanie Weirich, David Walker, Sumit Gulwani, Lars Birkedal, and Shriram Krishnamurthi.

Amaury Pouly wins Ackermann Award

July 2017
Amaury Pouly, a postdoc in Joël Oukanine's Foundations of Automatic Verification Group, has received the 2017 Ackermann Award for his PhD thesis, “Continuous-time computation models: From computability to computational complexity.” The Ackermann Award is an international prize presented annually to the author of an exceptional doctoral dissertation in the field of Computer Science Logic.

Amaury Pouly's thesis shows that problems which can be solved with a computer in a reasonable amount of time (more specifically problems which belong to the class P of the famous open problem “P = NP?”) can be characterized as polynomial length solutions of polynomial differential equations. This result paves the way for reformulating certain questions and concepts of theoretical computer science in terms of ordinary polynomial differential equations. It also revisits analog computational models and demonstrates that analog and digital computers actually have the same computing power, both in terms of what they can calculate (computability) and what they can solve in reasonable (polynomial) time.

Two new faculty to join MPI-SWS

June 2017
We are pleased to announce that two new faculty will join MPI-SWS.

Maria Christakis is joining us from the University of Kent, England, where she is a Lecturer at the School of Computing. Maria’s goal is to develop theoretical foundations and practical tools for building more reliable and usable software and increasing developer productivity. She is primarily interested in software engineering, programming languages, and formal methods. Maria joins the institute as a tenure-track faculty member, effective Oct 16, 2017. Maria was previously a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research Redmond. She received her Ph.D. from ETH Zurich and her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. Maria is the recipient of the ETH medal and the EAPLS Best PhD Dissertation Award.
Adish Singla is joining us from ETH Zurich, where he has completed his Ph.D. in computer science. His research focuses on designing new machine learning frameworks and developing algorithmic techniques, particularly for situations where people are an integral part of computational systems. Adish joins the institute as a tenure-track faculty member, effective Oct 1, 2017. Before starting his Ph.D., he worked as a Senior Development Lead in Bing Search for over three years. Adish received his Bachelor's degree from IIT Delhi and his Master's degree from EPFL. He is a recipient of the Facebook Fellowship in the area of Machine Learning, the Microsoft Research Tech Transfer Award, and the Microsoft Gold Star Award.

Peter Druschel receives EuroSys Lifetime Achievement Award

April 2017
Peter Druschel has received the 2017 EuroSys Lifetime Achievement Award for his numerous and valuable contributions to research in computer systems. It is the highest honor accorded by EuroSys to systems researchers.

Real-Time Systems group wins 3 best-paper awards in a row

April 2017
The MPI-SWS Real-Time Systems group, led by Björn Brandenburg, has won the best paper award at ECRTS’16, the best paper award at RTSS’16, and the best paper award at RTAS’17. These are the three main conferences in real-time systems.  This is the first time a group has won best paper awards in all three consecutive top real-time systems conferences. Congratulations to Björn and the postdocs and students in the real-time systems group!

Paul Francis to give keynote at Oakland '17 Workshop on Privacy Engineering

April 2017
Paul Francis will give the keynote address at the Oakland (IEEE S&P) Workshop on Privacy Engineering. The talk, entitled "The Diffix Framework: Revisiting Noise, Again", presents the first database anonymization system that exhibits low noise, unlimited queries, simple configuration, and rich query semantics while still giving strong anonymity.

The workshop will be held May 25 in San Jose, CA.

Talk Abstract:

For over 40 years, the holy grail of database anonymization is a system that allows a wide variety of statistical queries with minimal answer distortion, places no limits on the number of queries, is easy to configure, and gives strong protection of individual user data.  This keynote presents Diffix, a database anonymization system that promises to finally bring us within reach of that goal.  Diffix adds noise to query responses, but "fixes" the noise to the response so that repeated instances of the same response produce the same noise.  While this addresses the problem of averaging attacks, it opens the system to "difference attacks" which can reveal individual user data merely through the fact that two responses differ.  Diffix proactively examines queries and responses to defend against difference attacks.  This talk presents the design of Diffix, gives a demo of a commercial-quality implementation, and discusses shortcomings and next steps.

Girls' Day 2017

March 2017
MPI-INF and MPI-SWS jointly participated in Girl's Day this year.

The Max Planck Institutes for Informatics and Software Systems pursue basic research in many areas of computer science. But what exactly is computer science? And what does a day in the life of a scientist look like in computer science? We addressed these questions by way of hands-on examples and demonstrated, for instance, how a computer learns, how the car navigation system knows how to get from A to B, and also how one doesn’t always need a computer for doing computer science. Along the way, the school girls were able to ask our students and researchers all sorts of questions about what it is like to work in research.


Die Max-Planck Institute für Informatik und Software Systeme betreiben Grundlagenforschung in vielen Bereichen der Informatik. Aber was genau ist Informatik? Und wie sieht ein Tag im Leben einer Wissenschaftlerin in der Informatik aus? Genau dies haben wir anhand von Beispielen zum Anfassen und Ausprobieren gezeigt und dabei z.B. illustriert, wie ein Computer lernt, wie das Navi weiß wie man von A nach B kommt, und auch dass man für Informatik nicht immer einen Computer braucht. Nebenbei hatten die Schülerinnen die Gelegenheit unseren StudentInnen, DoktorandInnen und WissenschaftlerInnen allerlei Fragen zu stellen, wie es denn ist in der Forschung zu arbeiten.

A week-long school for outstanding undergrad/MS students curious about research in computing. Apply by Feb 7!

January 2017
Outstanding undergraduate and Masters students are invited to learn about world-class research in security and privacy, social systems, distributed systems, machine learning, programming languages, and verification. Leading researchers will engage with attendees in their areas of expertise: the curriculum will include lectures, projects, and interaction with faculty from participating institutions.

Attendees will be exposed to state-of-the-art research in computer science, have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with internationally leading scientists from three of the foremost academic institutions in research and higher learning in the US and in Europe, and network with like-minded students. They will get a sense of what it is like to pursue an academic or industrial research career in computer science and have a head start when applying for graduate school.

Applications are due by February 7, 2017. Travel and accommodation will be covered for accepted students.

More info can be found on the CMMRS website.