prem devanbu

IEEE Computer Society Honors Premkumar Devanbu with Career Impact Award

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, or IEEE, Computer Society has announced Premkumar Devanbu, a Distinguished Professor Emeritus in the Department of Computer Science at the University of California, Davis, as the recipient of the 2024 Harlan D. Mills Award.  

Established in 1999 in honor of software engineering pioneer Harlan D. Mills, the award recognizes researchers and practitioners who have demonstrated continuous and impactful contributions to the software engineering field throughout their careers. Devanbu will receive the award at the International Conference on Software Engineering, which will be held this year in April in Lisbon, Portugal.  

"This award was won in the past by several people who were my heroes and role models in the field," said Devanbu. "I'm still in a bit of a shock and I feel very grateful and humbled."  

Devanbu uses large open-source code and meta-data to improve software tools and processes. Perhaps most notably, in 2012, Devanbu presented "On the Naturalness of Software," in which he and his colleagues explain the discovery that due to its repetitive and predictable nature, most software coding can be analyzed by using statistical models common in natural language processing. By building statistical models into software, certain tools could help programmers write code, correct mistakes and reduce the time spent on repetitive coding elements. The paper won the Most Influential Paper Award from the International Conference on Software Engineering in 2022.  

Devanbu is a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery, or ACM, and has won numerous accolades, including the ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Research Award, the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, and several most-influential paper and test-of-time awards for his papers.   

"Doing this kind of work that is durably influential, I believe, requires great collaborators and a lot of luck," said Devanbu. "UC Davis, in particular, is a great place to find collaborators. We have a culture of open-mindedness, modesty and practicality. There are a lot of very clever people here, but they are also very open to new problems and ideas. This is the UC Davis magic."

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