Chuchu Fan of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is the recipient of the 2020 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award for her dissertation, “Formal Methods for Safe Autonomy: Data-Driven Verification, Synthesis, and Applications.” Fan’s dissertation makes foundational contributions to verification of embedded and cyber-physical systems, and demonstrates applicability of the developed verification technologies in industrial-scale systems. Her dissertation also advances the theory for sensitivity analysis and symbolic reachability and develops verification algorithms and software tools (DryVR, Realsyn). Key contributions of her dissertation include the first data-driven algorithms for bounded verification of nonlinear hybrid systems using sensitivity analysis.

Honorable Mentions for the 2020 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award went to Henry Corrigan-Gibbs (also from MIT) and Ralf Jung of the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems and MIT. Corrigan-Gibbs’s dissertation, “Protecting Privacy by Splitting Trust,” improved user privacy on the internet using techniques that combine theory and practice. Jung’s dissertation, “Understanding and Evolving the Rust Programming Language,” established the first formal foundations for safe systems programming in the innovative programming language Rust.

The 2020 Doctoral Dissertation Award recipients will be formally recognized at the annual ACM Awards Banquet on October 23 in San Francisco. The Doctoral Dissertation Award is accompanied by a prize of $20,000, and the Honorable Mention Award is accompanied by a prize totaling $10,000.