B.S. ​University of PittsburghM.S. Ohio State UniversityPh.D. University of Pittsburgh

"My research impacts the performance, reliability and security of software systems. As I teach programming type courses, students learn how to program in different programming languages and to write high quality and dependable code."

Mary Lou Soffa, Owens R. Cheatham Professor of Sciences


Research interests include:

Computer Architecture, Software Engineering, Programming Languages and Compilers



Mary Lou Soffa is the Owen R. Cheatham Professor of Sciences in the Computer Science Department at the University of Virginia, serving as the Department Chair from 2004 to 2012. From 1977 to 2004, she was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Pittsburgh and also served as the Dean of Graduate Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences for five years. Her research interests include cloud computing, warehouse scale computers, software systems for multi-core architectures, optimizing compilers, software testing, and program analysis. She has directed 32 Ph.D. students to completion, half of whom are women.

Mary Lou is a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and a Fellow of The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). In 2012, she received the Ken Kennedy Award for contributions to compiler technology and software engineering, exemplary service to the profession, and lifelong dedication to mentoring and improving diversity in computing. She received the Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award in 2011, which celebrates a woman who led or developed a product, process, or innovation that made a notable impact on business or society. Other awards she received include the ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award in 2014, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Computer Science Department at the University of Pittsburgh in 2017, the the Computing Research Association (CRA) Nico Habermann Award in 2006, a Girl Scout Woman of Distinction Award in 2003, and the White House’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring in 1999. She has also received a number of distinguished paper awards.

Mary Lou was a member of the Computer Research Association Board (CRA) for ten years. She served as a co-chair and member on the CRA-W Board co-founded the CRA-W Graduate Cohort Program and the CRA-W Mentoring Program for Associate Professors. She served on ACM Council from 2000-2016. She has served on the editorial board of a number of journals, including the ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems and the IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering. In addition, she has been a conference chair, program chair or program committee member for many conferences in programming languages, software systems and software engineering. Currently, Mary Lou is on the ACM Publication Board and serves on conference program committees.


  • ACM Fellow 1999
  • IEEE Fellow 2012
  • Ken Kennedy Award 2012
  • Anita Borg Technical Leadership Award 2011
  • Nico Habermann Award 2006
  • IEEE TCSE Software Engineering Women in science and Engineering Leadership Award 2015
  • ACM SIGSOFT Influential Educator Award 2014
  • Girl Scout Woman of Distinction 2003
  • ACM SIGPLAN Distinguished Service Award 2010
  • ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Service Award 2012
  • Top 25 Software Engineer Scholars in World, July, ACM CACM 2007
  • Most Influential papers of 20 years in ACM/SIGPLAN Programming Languages Design and Implementation (PLDI), “Complete Removal of Redundant Expressions,” (co-authored with R. Bodik and R. Gupta) 2003

Research Interests

  • Computer Architecture
  • Software Engineering
  • Programming Languages and Compilers

Selected Publications

  • Will this Cloud Configuration Meet MY Performance and Cost Requirements? Ningjing Tian, Wei Wang, Abhijeet Srivastava, Lori Pollock and Mary Lou Soffa, submitted.
  • A methodology for controlling the size of a test suite, ACM Transactions on Software Engineering and Methodology (TOSEM) 2 (3), 270-285. ABS MJ Harrold, R Gupta, ML Soffa
  • Hierarchical GUI test case generation using automated planning, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering 27 (2), 144-155. ABS A. Memon, ME Pollack, ML Soffa
  • Bubble-up: Increasing utilization in modern warehouse scale computers via sensible co-locations, Proceedings of the 44th annual IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture, 2011, pp. 248-25 ABS J Mars, L Tang, R Hundt, K Skadron, ML Soffa
  • Efficient computation of interprocedural definition-use chains, ACM Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems (TOPLAS) 16 (2), 175-204 ABS MJ Harrold, ML Soffa

Courses Taught

  • Design and Implementation of Compilers and Optimizers
  • Programming Languages for Web Applications

Featured Grants & Projects

  • NSF Grant: Cloud Mentoring

    Guiding Cloud Users for Cost Performance through Testing and Recommendation. This research addresses the : (1) design and development of a testing framework customized to applications in the cloud, (2) various instantiations of the framework to test different configurations of a cloud application possibly provided by the cloud user, (3) algorithms for recommending instance configurations that meet performance and cost requirements, (4) techniques to minimize the test case search space, thus the number of test cases generated and executed, and (5) implementation and evaluation of the testing-based recommendation system including metrics.