Robert S. Cartwright, Jr.

Professor of Computer Science

Rice University


Professor Robert ``Corky'' Cartwright has devoted his career to elevating programming from a black art to a systematic discipline. To this end, he has: (i) conducted fundamental research on the mathematical principles governing the design and implementation of programming languages, (ii) helped found an outstanding academic Computer Science department at Rice University, and (iii) served as a professional leader in programming language research and computer science education.

Professor Cartwright earned a bachelor's degree magna cum laude in Applied Mathematics from Harvard College in 1971 and a doctoral degree in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1977. In 1980, he joined the faculty of Rice University, where he helped found the Computer Science Department and subsequently served as Department Chair.

Professor Cartwright has compiled an extensive record of professional service. He was a charter member of the editorial boards of LISP and Symbolic Computation: An International Journal and ACM Letters on Programming Languages and Systems. He has served as Program Chair of the ACM Conference on LISP and Functional Programming and ACM Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages and as General Chair for the SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation. From 1991-1996 he served as a member of the ACM Turing Award Committee, which selects the annual recipient of the most prestigious international prize for computer science research. He served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Computing Research Association from 1994-2000 and helped organize the Coalition to Diversity Computing.

Professor Cartwright has a passionate interest in improving introductory computer science curricula. To this end, he served as a member of the Computer Science Advanced Placement Committee for the Educational Testing Service from 1988-1990 and a member of the College Board Ad Hoc Committee on Advanced Placement in Computer Science from 1999-2000. At Rice, he has directed a project to develop a curriculum on object-oriented programming that stresses data-directed design based on design patterns. To support this curriculum, he has supervised the development of an open-source pedagogic programming environment called DrJava which has been adopted by many other colleges and universities.

Professor Cartwright's principal research interests are programming language design and implementation, program specification, program testing and analysis, and software engineering. He is currently engaged in four major research projects: (i) NextGen: compatibly extending the Java programming language to support first class genericity; (ii) Soft Typing: developing program analysis tools for Java that use precise type inference to help programmers debug and optimize programs; (iii) Dr Java: constructing production quality pedagogic programming environments for Java using Extreme Programming; and (iv) DrHJ: creating an extension of DrJava called DrHJ to support Habanero Java, an extension of Java with facilities for expressing task-level parallelism, developed by my colleague Vivek Sarkar.


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