LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 16 October 2012 – Mary Lou Soffa of the University of Virginia will receive the ACM-IEEE Computer Society Ken Kennedy Award for contributions to detecting and managing software security flaws. She developed software tools for debugging and testing programs to eliminate or reduce false alarms and improve operating efficiency. Her research produced automatic, practical solutions in software engineering, systems and programming languages for improving software reliability, security and productivity. Soffa will receive the Kennedy award on 13 November in Salt Lake City at SC12, the international conference on high-performance computing.
A leading researcher in programming languages, Soffa provided analytical and experimental models for understanding, predicting, and verifying the optimization of software. In her recent work, she developed a unifying framework for optimizations which included code, optimization, and resources models. Her model-based strategies enabled optimizing compilers to produce higher-quality code, and to employ different paradigms than those previously in use.
The Kennedy Award cited Soffa for "contributions to compiler technology and software engineering, exemplary service to the profession, and life-long dedication to mentoring and improving diversity in computing." She is the Owen R. Cheatham Professor at the University of Virginia.
Soffa was elected an ACM Fellow in 1999, and received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring from the White House the same year. In 2006, she received the Computing Research Association (CRA) Nico Habermann Award for contributions toward increasing the numbers and successes of underrepresented members in the computing research community.
She has held leadership roles in prominent national and international organizations, among them CRA and CRA-W, the committee on the status of women in computer science and engineering of CRA, and ACM Special Interest Groups on Software Engineering (SIGSOFT) and Programming Languages (SIGPLAN). Soffa currently serves on the ACM Publications Board and was elected in 2008 and 2012 as a Member-at-Large of the ACM Council. A highly regarded speaker, she has also published more than 150 papers in computing journals and conferences.
A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a BS degree in Mathematics, Soffa received an MS degree in Mathematics from Ohio State University before earning a PhD degree in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh. Before joining UVA, she was a professor and Graduate Dean in Arts and Sciences at Pitt.
ACM and the Computer Society co-sponsor the Kennedy Award, which was established in 2009 to recognize substantial contributions to programmability and productivity in computing and significant community service or mentoring contributions. It was named for the late Ken Kennedy, founder of Rice University's computer science program and a world expert on high-performance computing. The Kennedy Award carries a US $5,000 honorarium endowed by the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Architecture (SIGARCH) and the Computer Society.