Baskin Engineering professor wins 2019 most influential paper award

Friday, July 19, 2019

Cormac Flanagan, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering in the Baskin School of Engineering at UC Santa Cruz, was recognized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) with a Most Influential Paper Award. Papers are judged by their influence over the past decade. 

The paper, FastTrack: Efficient and Precise Dynamic Race Detection, described a new, order-of-magnitude more efficient race detection algorithm for multithreaded programs. 

The paper was presented by Flanagan and co-author Stephen Freund of Williams College at the 2009 ACM Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN) Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI) conference. (Awards are given to the authors of the most influential paper presented at the PLDI conference held ten years prior.)

“In both theory and practice, the FastTrack algorithm became the baseline against which all subsequent dynamic data-race detectors are judged,” wrote members of the selection committee for the award. 

The selection committee also noted in the award citation that “FastTrack had both an immediate and a permanent impact on how dynamic data-race detection is done … it contributed an algorithm and implementation that was truly the best of both worlds in most cases: a set of a natural and elegant choices for optimizing data structures and algorithms for dynamic data-race detection leads to a system that is as fast as lock-set algorithms whenever lock-set algorithms would not produce false positives but that gracefully falls back to slower approaches for objects where lock-set algorithms would lead to false positives.” 

The 2009 paper is available at