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Kloeckner and Xie join CS

9/16/2013 4:49:00 AM By Tom Moone, CS @ ILLINOIS

This fall, CS @ ILLINOIS welcomed two new faculty members: Andreas Kloeckner and Tao Xie. The addition of these faculty members will help ensure that the department remains among the top computer science departments in the country.

A native of Germany, CS Assistant Professor Andreas Kloeckner brings an expertise in high-performance scientific computing and the numerical solution of partial differential equations to the department. He joins the CS Department from Courant Institute at New York University, where he was a Courant Instructor. He received his PhD from Brown University in 2010. “Most of my work has involved computer simulations of complicated wave problems,” he said. “These occur in many engineering applications, ranging from fluid flow and weather prediction to simulations of electromagnetic interference.”

In support of his research, Kloeckner has released numerous open-source software packages, some of which have grown to have large and thriving user bases. His software interests are centered around resolving the perceived conflict between high-performance and human friendly, abstract code, using run-time code generation and code transformation techniques.

This semester, Kloeckner is teaching CS 598AK: Integral Equations and Fast Algorithms. “Integral equations enable extremely efficient solution algorithms for a large and important class of simulation problems. With recent developments, which I will be discussing in the class, these approaches are becoming more broadly applicable and easier to use,” said Kloeckner.

As one may expect, a lot of Kloeckner’s work involves a heavy dose of mathematics. In fact, he was in the math department while at Courant. As he explains, lines become blurred in the area of his research interest: “There’s always a math component, there’s always a CS component, and there’s always an application component,” he said. “And I think that’s fantastic. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of my work means that there’s a great variety of interesting things to work on, drawn from computation, mathematics and the application area. It certainly keeps life interesting.”

Kloeckner particularly looks forward to working in a strong engineering college at Illinois. “My work is in numerical mathematical methods that on their own are not terribly useful until they are connected to an application,” he said. “Engineering is very strong here, and there are many possible applications of my work, each providing a potential opportunity for having an impact on numerical and engineering practice.”

Associate Professor Tao Xie
Associate Professor Tao Xie

Originally from China, CS Associate Professor Tao Xie received his PhD in computer science from the University of Washington in Seattle in 2005. He then joined North Carolina State University as a faculty member, where he taught and performed research until joining Illinois this year.

Xie is an expert in software engineering. In particular, he focuses on software testing, debugging, program analysis, software analytics, and software security. “The ultimate goal of my research is to improve software dependability,” said Xie.

At Illinois, Xie will lead his research group to continue work on tool automation for improving software dependability. He received an NSF CAREER award in 2009 to study cooperative testing and analysis: how to enable tools and users to cooperate for better accomplishing the ultimate goal. This involved bringing human factors into the process of tool automation. “We want to engage software engineers, the typical users of our software engineering tools, to work with the tools to produce better results, such as better effectiveness of software testing and analysis,” said Xie.

Another research focus would be on extending the scope of dependability attributes targeted by his research. While previous research has focused on functional correctness or robustness (whether a software system crashes or not), Xie would like to expand the focus to attributes such as performance and security along with their impact on dependability, by collaborating with other engineering faculty members from diverse fields.

Xie had a vibrant research group at NC State, and several of his students will be following him to Illinois. Some will transfer to the university’s graduate program, and some will complete their education as NC State students who are visiting students at Illinois.

This fall, Xie is teaching CS 527: Topics in Software Engineering. He is working with other faculty members to look at ways to include software testing topics into existing courses. “It is a very important topic, an important skill set,” said Xie. “These days software engineers commonly find themselves doing testing. So this topic will be increasingly important.”

In addition to the NSF CAREER award, Xie was also the recipient of an IBM Jazz Innovation Award in 2008; IBM Faculty Awards in 2008, 2009, and 2010; and a Microsoft Research Software Engineering Innovation Foundation Award in 2011.