UCLA Computer Scientist Receives Three Best Paper Awards at Top Conferences

Todd Millstein
UCLA Samueli

Dec 8, 2020

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

UCLA Samueli School of Engineering computer science professor Todd Millstein has recently won distinguished paper awards at three Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) conferences: OOPSLA 2020 — Object-Oriented Programming, Systems, Languages and Applications, PLDI 2020 — Programming Language Design and Implementation and SIGCOMM 2020 — Special Interest Group on Data Communication. Well known for their competitiveness, the ACM conferences’ top paper awards recognize groundbreaking research in advancing computing technology.

Millstein’s papers center around three separate concepts in the field of automated verification. He co-authored the papers with UCLA graduate students Steven Holtzen, Siva Kakarla and Saswat Padhi; fellow UCLA Samueli faculty Guy Van den Broeck and George Varghese; and collaborators from other organizations.

Presented at OOPSLA 2020 with Holtzen and Van den Broeck, the first paper received the conference’s Distinguished Paper Award for advancing the state of the art in probabilistic programming. The paper shows a flexible approach to creating machine-learning applications, including a new technique that can support larger orders-of-magnitude programs than previous methods.

The second paper, presented at SIGCOMM 2020 with Kakarla, Varghese and colleagues from Microsoft, received the Best Student Paper award. The authors detailed the verification of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS), which translates human-readable internet URLs, such as www.ucla.edu into system-required IP addresses (e.g. The paper outlined an approach that can automatically verify the accuracy of an organization’s DNS configuration in order to prevent websites and online services from becoming inaccessible due to small errors.

Finally, the third paper, presented at PLDI 2020 with Padhi and colleagues from Princeton University, received the conference’s Distinguished Paper Award. Millstein and his co-authors introduced an algorithm to reduce the manual effort required of programmers to prove key program correctness.

Aside from his work in automated verification, Millstein’s other research interests lie in programming language design and concurrent programming. In addition to serving as the computer science department’s vice chair of graduate studies, he also regularly teaches CS30: Principles and Practices of Computing and CS231: Types and Programming Languages.

Sarah Wang contributed to this story.