Programming Language Systems

Programming Languages, Design & Implementation

Programming languages provide the building blocks for the world’s computer software. Unfortunately, poorly designed and implemented languages are endemic, which leads to costly inefficiencies and threats to safety and security. Our research focuses on the correct, reliable and efficient implementation of languages.

We address the foundations of language implementation, including how those foundations perform, their correctness and how they influence language design. Our work on garbage collection is internationally renowned. Outstanding infrastructure is vital to what we do, including open-source language implementations such as Jikes RVM and the Mu micro virtual machine. We have a strong reputation for novel performance analysis. This includes leading the development of the DaCapo benchmark suite, and developing new methodologies for power and performance analysis. The formal correctness properties of language implementations is an emerging focus of our research.

We collaborate with leading academic and industrial research teams internationally. Our work is funded by competitive grants from the Australian Research Council and the National Science Foundation, and supported by our industrial partners including Microsoft Research, Facebook, Google, Intel, IBM and Oracle.

Explore our available student research projects below and if you’d like to discuss opportunities for collaboration or funding, please email us.

We're advertising...

The Programming Language Systems Group in the Research School of Computer Science, The Australian National University has several PhD scholarships and post doctoral fellowship opportunities available for bright, enthusiastic researchers in the following fields:
  • Memory Management (Steve Blackburn, Tony Hosking, Michael Norrish)
  • Language Runtime Systems (Steve Blackburn, Tony Hosking, Michael Norrish)
  • Programming Language Semantics (Michael Norrish)
  • Language Implementation Verification (Michael Norrish, Tony Hosking)
  • Hardware Support for Programming Languages (Steve Blackburn, Tony Hosking)
  • Transactional Memory (Steve Blackburn, Tony Hosking)
  • Software Security (Steve Blackburn, Tony Hosking, Michael Norrish)
  • Vulnerability Detection and Mitigation (Tony Hosking, Michael Norrish)
  • System Evaluation Methodology (Steve Blackburn, Tony Hosking)
  • Concurrency and Parallelism in Languages and Runtimes (Steve Blackburn, Tony Hosking)
Potential applicants are encouraged to consult this web page and make direct contact with potential supervisors.
Students and research fellows will be based at the Research School of Computer Science within the Australian National University. Studentships are a tax-free allowance of A$27,082 (2018 rate) per year, tenable for a maximum of 3.5 years.
PhD applications are to be submitted electronically at before the closing date, April 16, 2019. For further information about graduate research within Computer Science at ANU, please see
The scholarships are open to individuals of any nationality. We are based in Canberra, Australia, the top-ranking region of the 2014 OECD quality of life survey.
Expressions of interest regarding post-doctoral research fellowships should be made via e-mail to Steve Blackburn <> or Tony Hosking <>.
The ANU actively seeks to promote diversity in the workplace.

Academic staff

Shoaib Akram

Dr Shoaib Akram »


Professor Steve Blackburn »

Professor, ACM Fellow, Cluster Lead, Computing Foundations

Peter Gammie »

Research Fellow

Tony Hosking

Professor Tony Hosking »

Professor, Director, School of Computing, ACM Distinguished Scientist

Dr Artem Lenskiy »

Fellow Academic


Mr Zixian Cai »

Research Assistant, PhD Student

Javad Ebrahimian Amiri »

PhD Student

Mr. Adrian Herrera »

Visiting Cyber Security Researcher, PhD Student

Mr Yi Lin

Mr Yi Lin »

PhD Student

Vidushi Liyanaarachchi »

PhD Candidate

Brenda Wang »

Research Assistant, Tutor, Student Ambassador

Kunshan Wang

Mr Kunshan Wang »

PhD Student

Mr Pavel Zakopaylo »

Summer Scholar, Research Assistant

Wenyu Zhao »

PhD Student


Dr Michael Norrish »

Honorary Associate Professor


Professor Robin Stanton »

Emeritus Professor


Professor Eliot Moss »

Visiting Fellow


Conference Papers

  1. Esmaeilzadeh, H., Blackburn, S., Yang, X., McKinley, K., (2010). Power and Performance of Native and Java Benchmarks on 130nm to 32nm Process Technologies. In Annual Workshop on Modeling, Benchmarking and Simulation 2010, Saint-Malo France.
  2. Sartor, J.B., Blackburn, S., Frampton, D., Hirzel, M., McKinley, K., (2010). Z-Rays: Divide Arrays and Conquer Speed and Flexibility. In ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI 2010), Toronto Canada.
Peter Marshall
15 Jul 2016
Peter Marshall, who graduated from a Bachelor of Software Engineering at ANU, is heading to live and work in Munich after his job search led him to Google. ...
Steve Blackburn and Xi Yang
5 Jul 2016
Computer scientists have developed a tweak for computer operating systems that could make large data centres 25 per cent more efficient by sharing their processing...
Dr Armin Haller demonstrating eye gaze technology
29 Jul 2015
The ANU is set to play a significant role in guiding the future of the Web after being chosen as the new host of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Australia Office...

Updated:  1 June 2019/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing