Laura Kovacs

Titel

Associate Professor of Computer Science at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Adjunct Associate Professor of Computer Science at TU Wien, Austria

Geburtsjahr und -ort

1980, Resita, Romania

Studium/Studienrichtung

Mathematics and Computer Science
- Bachelor studies at the West University of Timisoara, Romania
- Master studies, jointly, at the West University of Timisoara, Romania and Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria

Interviewdatum

29. Dezember 2014

My research focuses on applying automated reasoning for program analysis and verification, proving that a software system is correct and error-free.
Analyzing and verifying programs with millions lines of code is important for taming complexity of modern systems and making them safe, reliable, and secure. Banks, hospitals, companies, organizations and individuals heavily depend on very complex computer systems, such as Internet, networking, online payment systems, and autonomous devices. Technically, these systems rely on software implementing complicated arithmetic and logical operations over the computer memory. If this software is not reliable, the costs to the economy and society can be huge.
In my research, I combine computer algebra and computer theorem proving techniques, and develop new approaches both for the generation and proving program properties describing the program behavior.
I became interested in program analysis and verification during my master studies at the Research Institute for Symbolic Computation (RISC) at the Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria. After my Master degree, I started my PhD studies at RISC and mainly focused on the use of mathematical methods for program analysis. After my PhD, during my postdoctoral stays at EPFL Lausanne and ETH Zurich, I started to apply computational logic in combination with mathematic to automate two main steps in the program analysis: generation of program properties and proving such properties in a fully automated way, with no user guidance. I started to work, and then co-develop, the award-winning theorem prover Vampire, which opened new challenges and possibilities for using logic and math in software engineering.

 

I am very grateful to my professors, Viorel Negru and Dana Petcu, at my home university in Timisoara. Thanks to them, I became interested in scientific research and started my PhD at RISC.
I am also grateful to my PhD advisor Tudor Jebelean (RISC) and to Bruno Buchberger (RISC) for all their guidance and support during my PhD. In the last year of my PhD, I learned very much from Deepak Kapur (U. of New Mexico). I am especially thankful to Andrei Voronkov (U. Manchester) - thanks to him, I became interested in automated reasoning and computational logic, a new research topic in addition to my PhD work. I was very lucky to work with Tom Henzinger (that time EPFL, now IST Austria) and apply my work on concrete problems of model checking. I would also like to thank Peter Müller (ETH Zürich) and Jens Knoop (TU Wien) for their cooperation, and Ewa Vesely (TU Wien) for her kindness.
I am lucky to have great colleagues both at Chalmers at the TU Wien, and I am very happy to be part of the Austrian Society for Rigorous System Engineering - ARiSE, working together with great people and researchers.
I am also thankful to the funding agencies (FWF, EU, Swedish VR, Wallenberg Foundation, Austrian-Hungarian Foundation), for providing financial means for my work.
Last, but not least, I am very grateful to my family - they supported me throughout all this year. My daughter is the best thing that has happened to me, and I could have not combine family and career without having all this great people supporting and helping me! 

Since I have my daughter (born in 2014), combining work with family became more challenging. Every working mother has this challenge. It is not easy but definitely worth to try! Having fun at work is a plus to having fun with my daughter. I could not however live a working and family life if I would have not people supporting me. My family stays behind me, my colleagues are kind and understand if I cannot make it to a meeting. We live in Sweden where the parental leave system is very different, much more family-oriented, so sharing parental leave is possible on a daily basis. This is of enormous help!