University of Minnesota
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Eric Van Wyk wins McKnight Land-Grant Professorship

November 5, 2005
Dr. Eric Van Wyk has won a prestigious 2005-2007 McKnight Land-Grant Professorship for his project "Extensible Programming Languages for Cost-Effective Development or Reliable Software Systems." Dr. Van Wyk is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

The McKnight Land-Grant Professorship is awarded by the University of Minnesota Graduate School which describes the program as follows:
The goal of this program is to advance the careers of our most promising junior faculty at a crucial period in their professional lives. Recipients are honored with the title McKnight Land-Grant Professor, a special award which they will hold for two years. The award consists of a research grant in each of two years, summer support, and a research leave in the second year.

The winners were chosen for their potential for important contribution to their field; the degree to which their past achievements and current ideas demonstrate originality, imagination, and innovation; the potential for attracting outstanding students; and the significance of the research and the clarity with which it is conveyed to the non-specialist.

Dr. Van Wyk's research is in the general area of programming languages, specifically extensible langauges. A short-statement describing his work reads:

"Software development is a time-consuming and error-prone process. This is partly because programmers cannot 'say what they mean', but must translate their solutions, specified in high-level domain-specific notations, to obscure low-level instructions in traditional programming languages. My research focuses on programming language tools that allow domain experts to implement domain-specific notations as language extensions so that programmers can extend their programming language with these notations to avoid costly error-prone manual translation. This language extensibility will allow languages to evolve to meet their user's needs. My research investigates the technical challenges that must be overcome to build such extensible language tools."

More information on the project can be found on Dr. Van Wyk's research group's web page.