Alex Summers

An unusual start for new Computer Science faculty member

Beginning a new role as an associate professor in a different country while a pandemic is spreading across the globe is not exactly the ideal way to start a job. But that is Dr. Alex Summers’ experience over the past few weeks. Alex is the newest faculty member in UBC’s Department of Computer Science.

Alex arrived in Vancouver from Zurich, Switzerland on March 8, with March 15 as his scheduled first official day in the office. But COVID-19 restrictions threw that plan off course and Alex has been working from his new home since.

Yet, Alex is no stranger to course correction. His primary area of research is Software Correctness, which has dominated his interests since studying and working at ETH Zurich over the past ten years, completing his postdoc and then as a senior researcher in computer science.

Alex’s journey began when he attended Imperial College in London, England to complete his Masters degree in math and computer science, followed by his PhD.

In his research today, Alex explores how to bring formal tools to programmers focused on verification of code and its correctness. Alex explains, “The process consists of determining three key ingredients: the program properties you care about, how you analyze programs with respect to the properties, and how to automate this process with tools that can guarantee software correctness.” He was awarded the 2015 Dahl-Nygaard Junior Prize by the Association Internationale pour les Technologies Objets (AITO) for his exceptional work in this area.

In his new role at UBC, Alex is presently seeking postdocs and PhD, MSc or internship students to work with him on a broad variety of topics related to Program Correctness.

Alex also expresses a sincere enthusiasm to begin working with the faculty in Computer Science.
They each have deep expertise and are spread across a wide variety of computer science disciplines, but are so open to cross-discipline collaboration. I’m excited for how many potential connection points there are. It’s a unique opportunity for me.”

Alex will be teaching CPSC 410 (Advanced Software Engineering), beginning in Summer, Term 1. Due to the present COVID-19 restrictions, he will be making the course available online.

As for his spare time, Alex enjoys playing jazz/big band material on piano, tending goal in field hockey, skiing and playing board games.

Welcome Alex! We look forward to meeting you in person when we are all able to course correct and return to the department.

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