Monica S. Lam

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Monica Sin-Ling Lam is a professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford, and Founder of Moka5.

Professional biography

Monica Lam received a B.Sc. from University of British Columbia in 1980 and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1987.[1]

Lam joined the faculty of Computer Science at Stanford University in 1988. She currently directs the Mobisocial laboratory at Stanford. She has contributed to the research of a wide range of computer systems topics including compilers, program analysis, operating systems, security, computer architecture, and high-performance computing.

In the Collective project, her research group and she developed the concept of a livePC: subscribers of the livePC will automatically run the latest of the published PC virtual images with each reboot. This approach allows computers to be managed scalably and securely. In 2005, the group started a company called MokaFive to transfer the technology to industry.

In another research project, her program analysis group has developed a collection of tools for improving software security and reliability. They developed the first scalable context-sensitive inclusion-based pointer analysis and a freely available tool called BDDBDDB, that allows programmers to express context-sensitive analyses simply by writing Datalog queries. Other tools developed include Griffin, static and dynamic analysis for finding security vulnerabilities in Web applications such as SQL injection, a static and dynamic program query language called PQL, a static memory leak detector called Clouseau, a dynamic buffer overrun detector called CRED, and a dynamic error diagnosis tool called DIDUCE.

Previously, Lam led the SUIF (Stanford University Intermediate Format) Compiler project, which produced a widely used compiler infrastructure known for its locality optimizations and interprocedural parallelization. Many of the compiler techniques she developed have been adopted by the industry. Her other research projects included the architecture and compiler for the CMU Warp machine, a systolic array of VLIW processors, and the Stanford DASH distributed shared memory machine. In 1998, she took a sabbatical leave from Stanford to help start Tensilica Inc., a company that specializes in configurable processor cores.

Lam chaired the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Design and Implementation Conference in 2000, served on the Editorial Board of ACM Transactions on Computer Systems and numerous program committees for conferences on languages and compilers (PLDI, POPL), operating systems (SOSP), and computer architecture (ASPLOS, ISCA).



Lam has received the following awards and honors:

  • Fellow of the ACM, 2007
  • ACM Programming Language Design and Implementation Best Paper Award in 2004
  • ACM SIGSOFT Distinguished Paper Award in 2002
  • ACM Most Influential Programming Language Design and Implementation Paper Award in 2001
  • NSF Young Investigator award in 1992
  • Two of her papers were recognized in "20 Years of PLDI--a Selection (1979-1999)"
  • One of her papers was recognized in the "25 Years of the International Symposia on Computer Architecture", 1988.


  1. Monica Lam, Dissertation: A Systolic Array Optimizing Compiler (1987); Advisor: H. T. Kung.

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