IEEE Computer Society honors Wolfram Schulte for research leadership, contributions to program verification
By George Thomas Jr., Writer, Microsoft
Software verification — the crucial process of assuring programs perform as expected — may not be top of mind for most of us.
But considering its role in the development of just about anything based on software — which seemingly is nearly everything these days — its importance cannot be understated.
And that’s where Wolfram Schulte comes in.
In his nearly two decade-long career at Microsoft, Schulte has made significant contributions to software development, including building program verifiers like Spec# and VCC, two widely used verification tools for programming in the C# and C environment, and Pex, an automated unit testing tool for the .NET environment built on verification technology.
On Monday, Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers announced that Schulte was selected to receive the IEEE Computer Society 2016 Harlan D. Mills Award. The award honors Schulte’s research and research leadership contributions, which have led to major theoretical and practical advances in software verification.
“I am so humbled that the committee selected me for this prestigious award,” Schulte said. “I am still in absolute awe of the scientific work of earlier Mills awardees, including Mills himself. I never imagined being among them.”
Schulte joined Microsoft in 1999.
In 2008, he founded the Research in Software Engineering Group (RiSE), a research group that focuses on bringing the latest software engineering advances to Microsoft’s business. RiSE developed many foundational pieces for software verification. For instance, Z3, a high-performance automated theorem prover, won the ACM SIGPLAN Award in 2015.
Then, in the summer of 2012, he founded the Tools for Software Engineers team, a product team that focuses on speeding up software development by working through issues such as code review, build, test and automated programming analysis.
He is currently serving as a director of engineering for Microsoft’s Cloud and Enterprise division.
Schulte’s career at Microsoft started out as a happy coincidence. At one time, he said he hadn’t even considered a career outside of academia.
“I worked at a German university wanting to become a tenured professor,” he said.
But when a colleague asked if he wanted to interview with Microsoft, he said, “I figured, why not? I have some time to kill.”
Some 16 years later, Schulte said he’s stayed at Microsoft because of the opportunity to work on some of the toughest problems in computer science with the smartest researchers and product engineers he knows.
“And it’s the impact,” he added. “Hopefully changing the world of a billion users for the better.”