Huang receives prestigious NSF CAREER Award

Jeffhuang -tamu -webDr. Jeff Huang, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, has received a five-year National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for his research in debugging concurrency related software defects.

The NSF awards the prestigious CAREER grants to outstanding junior faculty members to help them advance their research and teaching activities. Huang’s project, “Scalable and Maximal Concurrency Debugging,” will continue through January 2021.

“Concurrency related software defects, or bugs, are among the most expensive and dangerous in practice, and have become a major threat to the reliability and security of safety-critical systems and the nation’s critical infrastructure,” said Huang. "However, detecting and fixing these defects are very challenging. I aim to develop new theoretical and algorithmic advances and build practical automated tools to help developers detect and understand concurrency bugs earlier, and fix them safer and faster.”

Huang’s CAREER research will investigate solutions to four major research questions on concurrency debugging: how to reproduce failures in long running concurrent programs with minimal runtime perturbation and overhead; how to detect concurrency bugs at the maximum ability and with no false alarms, even under limited observation; how to accurately identify the failure’s root cause and how to effectively simplify concurrency bugs and speed up their reproduction; and how to fix concurrency bugs without introducing deadlocks or unnecessary performance degradation and how to effectively validate the correctness of fixes.

The broader significance and importance of this project is to help produce more reliable, secure and economical software systems and infrastructure, remove concurrency related vulnerabilities and strengthen science, technology, education and mathematics (STEM) education on software debugging, which is a critical, but lacking aspect of today’s software engineering education.

Huang joined the faculty at Texas A&M in fall 2014. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, after completing his Ph.D. in computer science from Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2012 and his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from National University of Defense Technology, China, in 2008.

Among Huang's many honors are a 2015 Google Faculty Research Award, a 2013 Distinguished Paper Award from ACM SIGPLAN conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), which was selected as one of the nine ACM SIGPLAN Research Highlights papers in 2013, and the 2013 ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Dissertation Award, which recognizes the author of one outstanding doctoral dissertation in the area of Software Engineering annually.

The NSF established the CAREER program to support junior faculty within the context of their overall career development, combining in a single program the support of research and education of the highest quality in the broadest sense. Through this program, the NSF emphasizes the importance of the early development of academic careers dedicated to simulating the discovery process in which the excitement of research is enhanced by inspired teaching and enthusiastic learning.

For more on the NSF and the CAREER program visit the NSF website.