​Ph.D. University of Arizona, 1981​M.S. Southern Methodist University​B.A.S. Southern Methodist University, 1975

"Securing computer systems that society relies for critical services such as: transportation, communication, power, defense, and finance."

Jack W. Davidson, Professor of Computer Science

Jack W. Davidson is a Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Virginia. He joined the faculty in 1981 after receiving his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Arizona. Professor Davidson’s research interests include compilers, computer security, programming languages, computer architecture, and embedded systems. He is the principal investigator on several ongoing grants to develop comprehensive methods for protecting software from malicious attacks.

Professor Davidson is a Fellow of the ACM and a Senior Member of the IEEE Computer Society. He served as an Associate Editor of ACM’s Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems for six years, and as an Associate Editor of ACM’s Transactions on Architecture and Compiler Optimizations for eight years. He served as Chair of ACM’s Special Interest Group on Programming Languages (SIGPLAN) from 2005 to 2007. He currently serves on the ACM Executive Council and is co-chair of ACM’s Publication Board that oversees all aspects of ACM’s publications and the operation of ACM’s Digital Library.

Professor Davidson is co-author of two best-selling introductory programming textbooks, C++ Program Design: An Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming, 3rd edition and Java 5.0 Program Design: An Introduction to Object-Oriented Programming, 2nd edition. He and his colleague, James P. Cohoon, received the 2008 IEEE Taylor L. Booth Award for their sustained effort to transform introductory computer science education.


  • ACM Fellow 2008
  • IEEE Computer Society Taylor L. Booth Award 2008
  • NCR Faculty Innovation Award 1989

Research Interests

  • Cybersecurity
  • Risk Management
  • Systems Integration
  • Computer Architecture
  • Grid/Cloud/High-performance Computing
  • Programming Languages and Compilers

Selected Publications

  • Evaluating Indirect Branch Handling Mechanisms in Software Dynamic Translation Systems. ACM Transactions on Architecture and Code Optimization, 8(2), July 2011, Article No. 9. ABS J. D. Hiser, D. W. Williams, W. Hu, J. W. Davidson, J. Mars and B. R. Childers.
  • A Proof Infrastructure for Binary Programs. Proceedings of the 8th International Symposium NASA Formal Methods, Minneapolis, MN, June 2016, pp. 337–343. ABS Ashlie B. Hocking, Benjamin D. Rodes, John C. Knight, Jack W. Davidson, Clark L. Coleman.
  • ILR: Where did my gadgets go? Proceedings of the 2012 IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, San Francisco, May 2012, pp. 571–585. ABS J. Hiser, A. Nguyen-Tuong, M. Co, M. Hall, and J. W. Davidson.
  • Security through Redundant Data Diversity, Proceedings of the 38th Annual IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks, Anchorage, AK, June 2008, pp. 187–196. ABS A. Nguyen-Tuong, D. Evans, J. C. Knight, B. Cox, and J. W. Davidson.
  • Retargetable and Reconfigurable Software Dynamic Translation. Proceedings of the International Symposium on Code Generation and Optimization, San Francisco, CA, March 2003, pp. 36–47. ABS K. Scott, N. Kumar, S. Velusamy, B. Childers, J. W. Davidson and M. L. Soffa.

Featured Grants & Projects

  • Double Helix: High Assurance N-variant Systems

    Funding Agency: Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

    Double Helix is a $5.9M four-year joint project of University of Virginia, SRI International, and Arizona State Univeristy. Double Helix is a binary analysis and transformation system that will process binary applications to defend (ATDs) and produce variants with diverse binary structures that are intended to be deployed within a multi-variant fault-tolerant system. A unique aspect of Double Helix is that it will employ structured diversity to guarantee that variants behave differently when attacked providing high-assurance operation for mission-critical systems.

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  • Trusted and Resilent Mission Operation

    Funding Agency: Air Force Research Laboratory

    This $1.25M one-year project is a joint effort of University of Michigan, Arizona State University, Kestrel Institute, Raytheon BBN, and Carnegie Mellon University. The goal of the project is to develop and evaluate a novel system for improving the trust and resiliency of cyber physical systems. The project focuses on resilient systems that avoid or recover from attacks, trust violations or environmental changes to complete missions. Because such resiliency is often achieved by adapting to new circumstances or repairing weaknesses, we also focus on providing trust to the human operator that the changed system operates correctly.