Portrait of Michael Lowell Roberts

Michael Lowell Roberts

Computer Scientist


Michael Lowell Roberts is a an inventor and computer scientist with experience programming in a variety of contexts, including distributed programming, system programming, game development, and software verification. Talented at designing reusable and reliable platforms and subsystems, low-defect programming, intuitive API design, and low-latency memory management techniques.

He is a pioneer in distributed and parallel programming using actors. He developed the first elastic, distributed actor system (an online game named Horizons) using virtual actors, a concept later popularized by the Orleans framework.

He also the sole inventor of the first parallelized incremental garbage collector, an algorithm that eliminates performance penalties normally associated with garbage collection in multi-threaded environments that negate its usefulness in soft-realtime environments. His collector is an excellent example of how actor systems can applied to parallelize algorithms with complex state requirements– an important area of programming that is still poorly understood by the software development industry at large.


DSoAP – Distributed Social Analytics Platform

Established: June 1, 2015

The Distributed Social Analytics Platform (DSoAP) project is focused on the “Huge Data” problem in social policy research caused by the breadth of data involved. Using aggregate social media data to investigate and validate social issues such as employment, health and fiscal policy requires analyzing many months or years of data. DSoAP is applying intelligent compaction, pre-indexing and distribution of data across a server cluster to achieve responsive query times for online data exploration.


Established: October 2, 2014

An Ironclad App lets a user securely transmit her data to a remote machine with the guarantee that every instruction executed on that machine adheres to a formal abstract specification of the app's behavior. This does more than eliminate implementation vulnerabilities such as buffer overflows, parsing errors, or data leaks; it tells the user exactly how the app will behave at all times. Our specifications, code, proofs, and tools for our projects Ironclad Apps (verifying the…

The F* Project

Established: March 25, 2011

F* is a verification-oriented dialect of ML. For more information, please visit https://fstar-lang.org or click on the logo below.

Orleans – Virtual Actors

Established: October 14, 2010

Project "Orleans" invented the Virtual Actor abstraction, which provides a straightforward approach to building distributed interactive applications, without the need to learn complex programming patterns for handling concurrency, fault tolerance, and resource management. Orleans applications scale-up automatically and are meant to be deployed in the cloud. It has been used heavily by a number of high-scale cloud services at Microsoft, starting with cloud services for the Halo franchise running in production in Microsoft Azure since 2011. The core…





  • US Patent 8,200,718, Parallelized Incremental Garbage Collector, Michael L. Roberts, issued June 12, 2012.