Carnegie Mellon University

William Scherlis

Dr. William Scherlis

Professor of Computer Science, Director, Institute for Software Research

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


William L. Scherlis is a Professor of Computer Science and director of CMU's Institute for Software Research (ISR), one of seven academic departments in the School of Computer Science (SCS). ISR research and educational programs relate to software development, cybersecurity, privacy engineering, Internet of Things, network analysis, mobility, systems assurance, and other topics. ISR is home to two PhD programs and three professional Masters programs. Scherlis founded the PhD Program in Software Engineering in 1999 and directed it for more than a decade. During 2012 and early 2013 he was the Acting CTO for the Software Engineering Institute, a Department of Defense FFRDC at CMU.

Scherlis joined the Carnegie Mellon faculty after completing an A.B. magna cum laude at Harvard University in applied mathematics, a year in the Department of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland) as a John Knox Fellow, and a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University (Zohar Manna advisor). His research relates to software assurance, cybersecurity, software analysis, and assured safe concurrency. His team has developed analysis tools based on techniques to verify safe concurrency, information flow, and other properties that tend to defy conventional testing and heuristic analysis. He has led several large research projects including the National Security Agency Science of Security Lablet at CMU since its inception in 2011 and, previously, the Carnegie Mellon / NASA High Dependability Computing Project (HDCP).

Scherlis has testified before Congress on federal software sustainment, on computing technology and innovation, and on roles for a Federal CIO. He interrupted his career at CMU to serve at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for more than six years, departing in 1993 as a federal senior executive. At DARPA his responsibilities related to research and strategy in software technology, computer security, information infrastructure, and other topics. He participated in the initiation of the high performance computing and communications (HPCC) program (now NITRD) and in defining the concept for CERT-like security organizations, hundreds of which now operate in more than 90 countries world-wide.

Scherlis has led multiple national studies including the National Research Council (NRC) study committee that produced the report Critical Code: Software Producibility for Defense in 2010. He served multiple terms as a member of the DARPA Information Science and Technology Study Group (ISAT). He has been an advisor to major technology firms, defense companies, and venture investors, and is a co-founder of Panopto, a CMU spin-off. He has served as program chair for a number of technical conferences including the ACM Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) Symposium and the ACM Symposium on Partial Evaluation and Program Manipulation (PEPM).

He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Lifetime National Associate of the National Academy of Sciences.