This is the third in a series of four pieces that feature personal profiles of the new faculty at UT Computer Science.
For new UTCS professor Işil Dillig, computer science didn’t cross her mind until her sophomore year in college. Her realization would allow her to obtain her Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate all at Stanford University, and eventually lead her to work for UT.
“I didn’t know I would end up majoring in computer science,” Işil said. “I took my first programming course at Stanford and discovered that I was attracted to the unique combination of math and engineering that computer science had to offer.”
Işil joined UTCS last January, and she has been teaching the freshman honors class CS311H (Discrete Mathematics for CS) this semester. She says that the best part of being a part of the department is the combination of good colleagues and students.
Outside of teaching, she focuses on her research in static program analysis, software verification and synthesis, and automated logical reasoning. Within this area, her general goal is to develop tools and techniques to make software systems more reliable, secure, and easier to build.
“Programs unfortunately often crash,” Işil said. “Our goal is to develop techniques to automatically identify program bugs and prevent software from crashing.”
One of the projects Işil is currently very excited about is on program synthesis. The goal of the project is to bring programming to the fingertips of non-experts and allow users to automate tasks that would otherwise be too tedious.
“When you try to Google something it autocompletes, so think of this project as auto complete for programming,” Işil said. “It will in a way read programmers mind while they are programming and automatically synthesize programs from informal specifications.”
Traveling and relocation have played a large role in Işil’s life and career. After leaving California, she worked as an assistant professor at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. She then worked as researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Aside from traveling for work, Işil enjoys traveling leisurely and experiencing different outdoor activities. She specifically likes to hike, explore the outdoors, and scuba dive. Her favorite place that she has been diving was the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
During her travels Işil likes to photograph her adventures. She picked up photography in high school and has been taken photographs ever since. She particularly enjoys taking landscape shots while hiking.
In the future, Işil hopes to continue her research on program verification and also work towards the goal of making programming more accessible to end-users.
“I’m really excited about the potential of my research to transform the way that most software is built.”