6 July 2018

Gabriele Keller new Professor of Software Technology in Utrecht

Computer scientist Gabriele Keller has been appointed to the post of Professor of Software Technology at Utrecht University as of 1 September 2018. Keller’s research is extremely influential internationally in the fields of functional programming, type systems, and high-performance computing. Her appointment will help reinforce Utrecht’s tradition of excellence in software technology.

The German-born Keller has spent the past 19 years working at universities in Sydney and Credit Suisse in New York. In Sydney, she was co-founder of the Programming Language and Systems Group at the University of New South Wales. Keller works on the development of programming languages for high-performance computing.

Parallel applications

Gabriele Keller considers her research assignment at Utrecht University to be the development of software that can deal with technology’s changing demands while being as secure, performant, and energy-efficient as possible. She explains: “Since we are storing more and more data in our cars, airplanes, and medical systems, our software needs to be much more secure. And with the rise of artificial intelligence, computers will also have to be able to do more, which will require them to have ever-more computing power. But the processing speed of our current systems is stagnating. The only way to make computers work faster is by developing better parallel applications. Unfortunately, that development is usually coupled with higher energy consumption, which is exactly what we want to avoid.”

Energy-efficient high-performance computers

Keller’s research focuses on programming languages that enable high-performance systems to operate more efficiently, and therefore consume less energy. With her research into associated types and type families, she has contributed to the development of the programming language Haskell. At the moment, she is working on Accelerate, a language based on Haskell used to programme multicore CPU and GPU high performance computers. Keller: “GPUs are among the most energy-efficient architectures for high performance computing, but they are known for being difficult to program. Accelerate simplifies the processes for these types of large parallel systems.”

Making technology accessible

A common thread running through Keller’s research is how to deal with social problems using recent advances in programming language theory, and to make the technology more accessible to laypersons. “Computer systems are omnipresent in our society, which has a direct influence on the economy and on the security of the users of many products and services”, says Keller.

Third Computer Science professor this year

Gabriele Keller is the third new professor to be appointed at Utrecht University’s Department of Computer Science in 2018. As a result of the increasing importance of digitisation and computer science in society, and the related growth in the number of students, the department is currently undergoing rapid expansion. The research conducted by Keller’s group will contribute to Utrecht University’s research focus area of Game Research. Keller will also collaborate intensively with groups outside the Computer Science department and with industry partners.