TU Wien Informatics

20 Years

Maria Christakis Wins ERC Starting Grant

  • 2023-02-24
  • Award
  • Research

With her cutting-edge approach to testing program analyzers, Maria Christakis aims to prevent bugs from potentially leading to catastrophic outcomes.

Maria Christakis Wins ERC Starting Grant

Program analyzers act as guards for ensuring the reliability of modern-day software. But who guards the guards themselves? With her ERC Starting Grant “MirandaTesting: Testing Program Analyzers Ad Absurdum” Maria Christakis will develop the first principled methodology for testing a wide range of program analyzers.

This endeavor is crucial because program analyzers are increasingly advanced, highly complex tools with sophisticated algorithms. Therefore, analyzers will likely contain critical bugs, leading to wrong or misleading results when checking if the software works properly. Such bugs may have detrimental consequences, especially in safety-critical settings such as aerospace, transportation, nuclear power, medical devices, or defense technologies.

Verifying the absence of critical bugs in a program analyzer is prohibitively expensive. Contrary to verification, automated test generation can effectively find such bugs. Existing testing approaches, however, are still in their infancy for this application domain.

MirandaTesting aims to tackle this problem by creating the first systematic approach for testing a broad spectrum of program analyzers. As a result, analyzers will exhibit fewer critical bugs, potentially preventing catastrophic outcomes in high-risk environments where any failure could seriously harm people, the environment, or essential infrastructures.

About Maria Christakis

Maria Christakis is a full professor at TU Wien Informatics, Austria, where she leads the Research Unit for Software Engineering. Her research aims to develop theoretical foundations and practical tools for building more reliable and usable software and increasing developer productivity. Maria is particularly interested in investigating automatic test generation, program analysis, and software verification topics. Before joining TU Wien, she researched at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems in Germany, the University of Kent in England, Microsoft Research in the US, and ETH Zurich in Switzerland. You can find more information here.

About the ERC Starting Grant

ERC Starting Grants are prestigious research grants offered by the European Research Council (ERC) to outstanding early-career researchers who have demonstrated exceptional potential in their respective fields. The grants provide funding for up to five years to enable scientists to conduct cutting-edge research and establish independent research teams. The ERC Starting Grants aim to support innovative and high-risk research that has the potential to make a significant impact on scientific understanding, knowledge, and technology. The grants are highly competitive, and applicants must have a track record of significant research achievements to be considered.

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