Brandon Holt


About Me

I'm a System Software Engineer at Apple. I design and build tools to help other engineers at Apple make amazing things. I got my PhD in Computer Science at the University of Washington, advised by Luis Ceze and Mark Oskin and part of the fantastic Sampa group at UW. My interests include computer architecture, systems, and programming languages. I enjoy optimizing low-level interactions between hardware and software, orchestrating complex distributed systems, and cleanly capturing high-level semantics through specialized programming models.

Research Interests

I'm interested in helping people solve tough computational problems as quickly as possible, in whatever way makes the most sense for them, but particularly if it involves scaling up from a single machine to many distributed machines. I love learning about and working at pretty much every layer of the software stack: from harnessing the power of particular hardware features, through compilers and language runtimes, programming models, all the way up to the details of whatever scientific or business problem is being tackled. I enjoy hacking LLVM to perform low-level optimizations, develop fancy C++11 runtime libraries, design new programming models and domain-specific languages (especially in Scala), and learn about cool engineering and science problems like synthetic biology.

In grad school, I mostly worked on tackling two classes of problems: analysis of large irregular datasets (such as social network graphs), and scaling up data storage without sacrificing correctness. Real-world problems are naturally irregular and skewed: power law degree distributions lead to the "6-degrees of separation" phenomenon; network effects and Zipf's Law, and real-time interactions lead to Justin Bieber's posts bringing down Instagram, or the black-and-blue dress "breaking the internet". Designing applications that perform well on these kinds of problems is very difficult, so I have been exploring ways to help!


Read more about various work in progress and past on the Projects page. A few highlights:


Despite appearances, in addition to locking myself up in a room coding all day, I do other things as well. I enjoy hiking, soccer, frisbee, and sci-fi. I particularly like mountains, in which Washington is not disappointing me.