Kevin Sullivan

Kevin SullivanTitle:

Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Research Role: Research Council

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Kevin Sullivan joined the SERC as a researcher through the University of Virginia, where he serves as an Associate Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He received his undergraduate degree from Tufts University in 1987 and the MS and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington in 1994. His PhD advisor was David Notkin. Dr. Sullivan received an NSF Career Award in 1995, the (first) ACM Computer Science Professor of the Year Award from undergraduate students in 1998, a University Teaching Fellowship in 1999, the Harold Morton Jr. Teaching Prize in 2000, and a Virginia Engineering Foundation Endowed Faculty Fellowship in 2003. Dr. Sullivan ‘s research  interests are in software-intensive systems, in general, and in software engineering and languages. more specifically. He recently served as associate editor for the Journal of Empirical Software Engineering and the ACM Transactions on Software Engineering & Methodology, and on the program and executive committees of conferences including the ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE), the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE), Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AOSD) and ACM SIGPLAN-SIGACT Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages (POPL). In addition, Dr. Sullivan is currently serving as a member of the SERC Research Council, providing guidance and insight for SERC’s growth of the Trusted Systems research area.


Dr. Sullivan’s students and he are broadly interested in the design and engineering of software-intensive systems, with an emphasis on the need for a value-based theory and practice of system design.  They have two relatively independent areas of research activity under this theme.

  • They are particularly interested in value-based software engineering, with a particular focus on the nature and value of modularity in design. In this regard, they are working on formal theories and representations of modularity, models of the option-like economic value of modularity, technical models of software components and component integration, large-scale reuse, design evolution, and novel approaches to modular design, including aspect-oriented development.
  • They are also interested in improving our ability to assure the trustworthiness of software-intensive systems. In this regard, they collaborate with Joanne Dugan in the area software tools for reliability modeling and analysis of fault-tolerant computer-based systems. The experimental evaluation of formal methods of software specification and verification is a key software engineering component of that project, with efforts in specification-based testing as a particular emphasis.

Dr. Sullivan also leads a major new (2004) multidisciplinary initiative funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the University of Virginia’s Vice President for Research. While the specific formulation of the center theme is evolving, it can be said that in general the focus is on failure avoidance in next-generation, software-intensive systems, with a particular emphasis on anticipating, avoiding, and managing failures due to malicious environments.

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