Date Posted: 6/28/2023

In recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of programming languages, Nate Foster, professor of computer science in the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science, will receive the 2023 Robin Milner Young Researcher Award.

The ACM Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN) gives this award annually to an accomplished young investigator who is within the first two decades of their career. It is a major accolade for researchers in the field of programming languages.

"Programming languages has always been my intellectual home,” Foster said, “so I’m delighted and humbled to receive this award. Robin Milner was one of the giants of our field. I was lucky to meet Robin at the very beginning of my research career and I will always remember his kindness in going out of his way to look out for a new graduate student who was just starting out. It meant a lot to me, and it's something we can all emulate as we work to build a more welcoming and inclusive community.” 

Through his research, Foster seeks to develop languages and tools to enable programmers to build secure and reliable systems. Most recently, his research has focused on the design and implementation of domain-specific languages for programming computer networks—an approach that simplifies network management and helps make networks more reliable through formal verification of correctness properties.

In addition to this award, Foster has received a Sloan Research Fellowship, an NSF CAREER Award, the SIGCOMM Rising Star Award, a Tien ‘72 Teaching Award, the Morris and Dorothy Rubinoff Award, and Research Excellence Awards from both Cornell Bowers CIS and Cornell Engineering. He completed his Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Pennsylvania, his M.Phil. in history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University, and his B.A. in computer science from Williams College.

This award honors Robin Milner, a pioneer of programming language research who was the originator of many foundational ideas in the field. Milner was the recipient of the 1991 ACM Turing Award, which is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize” of computing. He was also known as a dedicated mentor who helped to cultivate the careers of young researchers.

Patricia Waldron is a writer for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.