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William Scherlis

Professor, School of Computer Science; Director, ISR


William Scherlis

Research Areas

Survivable Distributed Systems

Cross Cutting Thrusts

Formal Methods, Next Generation Threat Prediction and Response, Software Security


William L. Scherlis is a full Professor in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon. He is the founding director of PhD Program in Software Engineering and director of Institute for Software Research (ISR) in the School of Computer Science. His research relates to software assurance, software evolution, and technology to support software teams.

Scherlis is involved in a number of activities related to technology and policy, recently testifying before Congress on innovation and information technology, and, previously, on roles for a Federal CIO. He interrupted his career at CMU to serve at DARPA for six years, departing in 1993 as senior executive responsible for coordination of software research. While at DARPA he had responsibility for research and strategy in computer security, aspects of high performance computing, information infrastructure, and other topics.

Scherlis chairs the National Research Council (NRC) study committee on defense software producibility and is a member of the NRC study committee on cybersecurity. He served multiple terms as a member of the DARPA Information Science and Technology Study Group (ISAT). He recently completed chairing a NRC study on information technology, innovation, and e-government. He has led or participated in other national studies related to cybersecurity, crisis response, analyst information management, Department of Defense software management, and health care informatics infrastructure. He has been an advisor to major IT companies. He has served as program chair for a number of technical conferences, including the ACM Foundations of Software Engineering (FSE) Symposium. He has more than 70 scientific publications.


PhD in Computer Science at Stanford University.

University of Edinburgh (Scotland) as a John Knox Fellow.

A.B. at Harvard University.

Professional Background

Dr. Scherlis was lead Principal Investigator of the High Dependability Computing Project (HDCP), in which CMU led a collaboration with five universities to help NASA address long-term software dependability challenges. He was also co-Principal Investigator (with two colleagues) of a project with NASA and diverse industry and laboratory subcontractors focused on dependable real-time and embedded software systems. The project he led on software assurance technology and practices led to the creation of SureLogic, a Carnegie Mellon spinoff.

Research Projects

Security Patterns: Assurance for Secure Concurrent and Distributed Computing

Cross Cutting Thrusts: Software Security | Next Generation Threat Prediction and Response | Formal Methods
Researchers: William Scherlis, Jonathan Aldrich

Targeted Software Assurance

Research Area: Survivable Distributed Systems
Cross Cutting Thrusts: Software Security | Formal Methods
Researchers: William Scherlis, Jonathan Aldrich

Deep Software Assurance: Requirements, Techniques, Field Experience

Cross Cutting Thrusts: Software Security
Researchers: Jonathan Aldrich, William Scherlis

Open Source Evaluation and Assurance

Cross Cutting Thrusts: Software Security | Formal Methods
Researcher: William Scherlis


"Symposium: Software, Scale, Strategy". NITRD 20th Anniversary (2012).

"Software: the endless value spiral". Atlantic G-20 Conference: (PDF) in the conference proceedings (2009)

"Endless Value Spiral". Computerworld, interview with Gary Anthes, 2008

"National Research Council". National Research Council: Advancing software-intensive systems producibility for the DoD (chair): Uncertainty at Scale (2007). DoD Software Research Needs (2008).