Van Horn Wins Most Influential Paper Award at ICFP 2020

Aug 26, 2020

A University of Maryland expert in programming languages was recognized this week for the lasting impact of an academic paper he published 10 years ago.

David Van Horn, an associate professor of computer science with an appointment in the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, received the Most Influential Paper award at the 25th ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP).

The conference, held online this year, provides a forum for researchers and developers to hear about the latest work on the design, implementations and uses of functional programming. It covers the entire spectrum of work, from practice to theory, including its peripheries.

An ICFP committee chose “Abstracting Abstract Machines,” which Van Horn co-authored with Matt Might, currently director of the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as having had significant influence in the field of programming languages over the past decade.

The paper describes a derivational approach to abstract interpretation that yields novel and transparently sound static analyses when applied to well-established abstract machines—a model of a computer system constructed to allow a detailed and precise analysis of how the computer system works.

A tutorial on this work can be found here.