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IPA Dissertation Award 2016 for Sung-Shik Jongmans

The Dutch research school IPA has awarded former PhD student Sung-Shik Jongmans with the IPA Dissertation Award 2016. In March of that year, Jongmans received his doctorate degree with the rare distinction ‘cum laude’, describing a new method for parallel programming. ‘I aim to simplify programming and to re-use the interaction protocols for programmers.’

Parallel programming

Due to the increase of multicore processors used in smart phones, game consoles and other computers, parallel programming has become increasingly important. To prevent software errors, concurrent calculations must always exactly be executed in the correct order. This is not easy, because existing programming techniques for enforcing such orders - interaction protocols - are complex. During his PhD research, Jongmans investigated a new programming method to simplify this. His results are interesting for researchers and software engineers.

Sudden software crash

Jongmans: ‘Sometimes parallel software has been running fine for many years but then suddenly crashes after five years due to a certain sequence of calculations. You do not want this to happen, for instance, in an airplane. The programming method that I contributed to, aims to simplify programming and reusing interaction protocols for programmers. This improves the quality of parallel software.’

New programming language

For his research Jongmans used formal methods, a mathematical-logical way to describe software to demonstrate the correctness of his method. The researcher developed a new programming language aimed at programming interaction protocols. Programmers can use this new programming language in addition to an existing one such as Java. In NASA benchmarks Jongmans showed empirically that his approach can lead to software that is as fast as software developed with classical programming techniques, but without the current problems.

Jury report

The IPA jury explained its choice for Jongmans’ dissertation, entitled ‘Automata-Theoretic Protocol Programming’, as follows: ‘The thesis of Sung-Shik Jongmans contains theoretical contributions, novel ideas, and practical implementation results. The results have been impactful and are deemed to be of high quality and significance. Also the results have received significant attention from the researchers of the field, e.g., witnessed by the high number of citations.’

Second winner from LIACS

Jongmans had been appointed in the Formal Methods research group at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) and in the Theory group at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). IPA, the Institute for Programming Research and Algorithmics, is an inter-university Dutch research school recognized by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW). The research was carried out under the supervision of Farhad Arbab (CWI and UL). Sung-Shik Jongmans is now working at the Open University, and at Imperial College London via a Rubicon grant. The winner of the IPA Dissertation Award 2015 was Jurriaan Rot, also a former PhD student at both CWI and Leiden University, from the same research groups. 

Text: CWI