James R. Wilcox

PhD Student, UW CSE


Office: CSE 352

My Calendar

I am a fourth year PhD student interested in programming languages and applications of PL techniques to systems. I'm also a sucker for math, music, and puzzles.

I'm advised by Zach Tatlock in the PLSE group. I am grateful to be supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

I am always looking for undergraduates interested in doing research! Email me!


May 11, 2017.
I just got back from a good time at SNAPL. Check out the slides!

April 21, 2017.
In a few weeks, I will be at SNAPL to talk about modular verification of distributed systems. Hope to see you there!

March 27, 2017.
This coming summer, I will be interning at Microsoft Research with Jay Lorch and Rustan Leino!

December 30, 2016.
This winter I am teaching CSE 341 (Programming Languages). Check out the course webpage!

About Me

I graduated from Williams College in 2013 with a lot of great friends as well as a B.A. in Computer Science and Mathematics. I did research with Steve Freund (Summer 2012, Fall 2012, and Spring 2013) and Duane Bailey (Winter 2011). In summer 2013, I worked for NVIDIA as an intern in the research division under David Luebke and Morgan McGuire.

Outside CS, I enjoy coffee, music, bicycling, and reading. My favorite Seattle coffee shops these days are Vivace in Capitol Hill and Allegro in the U district. The PLSE lab comes in a close third.

I sing in the UW Chamber Singers, the St. Marks Cathedral Choir, and the Compline Choir.

The Chamber Singers were excited to perform at the ACDA Northwest conference in March, 2014. You can see videos of our performance here, here, here, and here. We are also working on a CD with repertoire from the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons. The Cathedral Choir performs each Sunday at 11am at St. Marks.

The Compline Choir performs each Sunday night at 9:30pm at St. Marks. The compline service a 30 minute chanted/sung service that tends to draw hundreds of people every week and thousands via a live radio broadcast and the podcast. It's a classic Seattle experience. You should check it out! You can listen live on King FM or get the podcast.

I occasionally play handbells.

Finally, I like to ride my 2009 Trek 520 bicycle: in 2009 I biked the TransAm. I bike from Ballard to CSE most days on the Burke-Gillman. I'm thinking about buying a mountain bike and biking along the Adventure Cycling Great Divide Trail in August 2015.

In non-fiction, I enjoy philosophy and popular science books. I recently read and enjoyed Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind. In fiction, I like short stories and (not exactly fiction) essays by people who write good short stories. Recent favorites include George Saunders' The Braindead Megaphone.



February 21, 2017.
Exercises on Generalizing the Induction Hypothesis.
This post collects several Coq exercises on generalizing the induction hypothesis.

January 9, 2017.
A Port of the Proof of Peterson's Algorithm to Dafny.
This code-only post is a port of the proof of Peterson's Algorithm to Dafny. It also serves as a good example of how to reason about concurrent systems in Dafny, essentially by writing a thread scheduler.

April 24, 2016.
How to build a simple system in Verdi.
In this long-awaited post, we'll show how to implement and verify a simple distributed system using network semantics.

May 8, 2015
A Proof of Peterson's Algorithm.
In this post, we take a break from distributed systems to look at shared memory systems. As a case study, we give a proof that Peterson's algorithm provides mutual exclusion.

April 16, 2015
Network Semantics for Verifying Distributed Systems.
This is the first post in a series on Verdi. In this post, we'll get our feet wet by defining a formal model of how distributed systems execute on the network.

October 20, 2014
Reasoning about Cardinalities of Sums and Products.
In this short, code-heavy post, we extend some of the work from a previous post to reason about the cardinalities of sums and products.

September 14, 2014
Dependent Case Analysis in Coq without Axioms.
This post shows how to get around the limitations of the destruct tactic when doing case analysis on dependent types, without resorting to the dependent destruction tactic, which relies on additional axioms.

September 4, 2014
"run" + "time" = ???.
This brief post records Mike's description of the three ways of combining the words "run" and "time" in computer science writing.

June 12, 2014
"More Sums than Differences" Sets, Part 2: Counting MSTD Sets.
This is the (much delayed) second post in a series on More Sums than Difference Sets. In this post, we'll take a first crack at the question, "How many MSTD sets are there?" To do so, we'll write a straightforward C program that counts MSTD sets. Then we'll run it to count MSTD sets and benchmark its performance.

April 10, 2014
Tail Recursion Modulo cons.
Tail recursion has come up in a few conversations this week. This post explores a generalization of tail call optimization that I wasn't aware of until Doug described it to me.

March 3, 2014
"More Sums than Differences" Sets, Part 1: A puzzle.
This is the first post in a series on "More Sums than Differences" Sets. In this post, we'll get our terminology straight and ask a lot of questions.

December 31, 2013
Easy access to the off-campus proxy.
I use the UW proxy to access the ACM digital library from off campus, but it's annoying to type the proxy URL every time I click a link to a new paper. Here are two ways to make life easier.

Publications (DBLP)


I've had the pleasure of working with the following undergraduates at UW:

If you're a UW undergrad who's interested in getting involved in research, please send me an email!


In winter 2017, I taught CSE 341 (Programming Languages). Check out the course webpage!

In fall 2013, I TAed CSE 505: Programming Languages with Zach Tatlock.

I have helped run the following reading groups at UW:

© James Wilcox. Last updated: April 24, 2017.