Carnegie Mellon University

William Scherlis

Dr. William Scherlis

Director, Professor, Institute for Software Research

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


William L. Scherlis is a full Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. He is director of CMU's Institute for Software Research (ISR) in the School of Computer Science and the founding director of CMU's PhD Program in Software Engineering. Since Jan 2012 he has also been serving as Acting CTO for the Software Engineering Institute. His research relates to software assurance, software analysis, and assured safe concurrency. Dr. Scherlis joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty after completing a Ph.D. in Computer Science at Stanford University, a year at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) as a John Knox Fellow, and an A.B. at Harvard University.

Scherlis has led the Fluid Project for more than a decade, which has focused on techniques and practices for scalable software assurance, leading to a family of tools for "analysis-based verification," based primarily on sound static analysis but also including dynamic and heuristic analysis. Building on the use of fragmentary specifications, the project emphasizes issues of scalability, composability, and usability in the development of techniques to assure safe concurrency. Some of the technologies are commercialized through a Carnegie Mellon spinoff, and these versions have been applied to larger-scale systems including Hadoop, Java system libraries such as java.util.Concurrent, and diverse proprietary and open source systems such as app servers and simulation engines.

Scherlis was principal investigator for the Carnegie Mellon / NASA High Dependability Computing Project (HDCP), in which CMU led a collaboration with five universities (MIT, USC, U Wash, U Md, U Wisc) to help NASA address long-term software dependability challenges.

Scherlis has testified before Congress on innovation and information technology, and, previously, on roles for a Federal CIO. He interrupted his career at CMU to serve at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for six years, departing in 1993 as a senior executive. While at DARPA his responsibilities related to research and strategy in software technology, computer security, information infrastructure, and other topics. He was involved in the initiation of the high performance computing and communications (HPCC) program (now NITRD) and in creating the concept of operations for CERT-like organizations, several hundred of which are now in operation world-wide.

Scherlis chaired the National Research Council (NRC) study committee on defense software producibility, which recently released its final report Critical Code: Software Producibility for Defense. He served multiple terms as a member of the DARPA Information Science and Technology Study Group (ISAT). He also chaired a NRC study on information technology, innovation, and e-government, and has led or participated in other national studies related to cybersecurity, crisis response, analyst information management, Ada, and health care informatics infrastructure. He has been an advisor to major IT companies and is a founder of SureLogic and Panopto. He has served as program chair for a number of technical conferences, including the ACM Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) Symposium. He has more than 80 scientific publications. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a lifetime National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences.