Mitchell Wand

Professor

Current Research Projects

  • Probabilistic Programming Languages: This work aims to apply the benefits of modern programming-language technology to machine-learning systems that manipulate probability distributions as values.
  • Binding-Safe Programming: This work aims to create tools and techniques for writing meta-programs that are guaranteed to respect the scope of all bound variables.

Research Interests

  • Continuations: Wand was one of the early explorers of the concept of continuations. He was the first to establish the now-standard connection between the mathematical notion of a continuation and the operational notion of a thread.
  • Compiler Correctness: His work of the early 80’s established a flexible method for the correctness of semantics-based compilers. In the early 90’s, in a cooperative project with the Mitre Corporation, he applied this technique to prove the correctness of a compiler for PreScheme, a dialect of Scheme tailored for systems programming, as part of a verified implementation of Scheme called VLisp. At the time, this was the largest compiler-correctness project ever attempted.
  • Analysis-Based Programming: This work aims to understand just how a program analysis justifies the program transformation that is typically based upon it. Wand and his students have studied a sequence of analysis-based transformations, including offline partial evaluation, lightweight closure conversion, useless variable elimination, and destructive update introduction.
  • Bisimulations and Contextual Equivalence: This work aims to develop techniques for the contextual equivalence of higher-order imperative programs independent of their type systems.

Education

  • SB | Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • PhD | Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Google Scholar Page

Biography

Mitchell Wand is Professor of Computer Science in the College of Computer Science at Northeastern University. He earned his Ph.D. degree in 1973 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He began his academic career in the Computer Science Department of Indiana University, where he was promoted to Full Professor in 1982. In 1985 he joined Northeastern University, where he served as Associate Dean of the College of Computer Science until 1991.

Professor Wand’s interests center around the semantics of programming languages and issues of compiler correctness.

For the past five years, Wand has been developing the course “Program Design Paradigms,” which aims to teach systematic program design and functional programming to incoming students at the Master’s level. He has developed a large body of online materials, which enables the College to give this experience to a broad audience of students.

He is the author of over 120 published papers and three books, including “Essentials of Progamming Languages,” co-authored with Daniel P. Friedman and Christopher T. Haynes of Indiana University, which is now in its third edition. Professor Wand is currently on the editorial boards of Logical Methods in Computer Science and the Journal of Higher-Order and Symbolic Computation.  He is a Fellow of the ACM and a Senior Member of IEEE.

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