James R. Wilcox

PhD Student, UW CSE


Office: CSE 352

My Calendar

I am a fifth 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!


February 20, 2018.
Next week, I'll be in Vienna presenting our paper VerifiedFT: A Verified, High-Performance Dynamic Race Detector at PPoPP.

January 1, 2018.
Next week, I will be at CPP, POPL, and CoqPL. At POPL, I will be presenting our paper Programming and Proving with Distributed Protocols. At CPP, Eric will present Œuf: Minimizing the Coq Extraction TCB. Hope to see you there!

December 6, 2017.
Our paper "VerifiedFT: A Verified, High-Performance Dynamic Race Detector" has been accepted to PPoPP 2018!

September 26, 2017.
Our paper "Programming and Proving with Distributed Protocols" has been accepted to POPL 2018! Check out the preprint!

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, where I worked with with Steve Freund. I am now a PhD student at the University of Washington, advised by Zach Tatlock. My work applies programming languages techniques to distributed and multithreaded systems. I especially enjoy proving programs correct.

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.

For several years, I sang in the UW Chamber Singers. I continue to sing in the St. Marks Cathedral Choir, Evensong Choir, and the Compline Choir. The Cathedral Choir performs each Sunday at 11am at St. Marks. The Evensong Choir performs evensong on the first Sunday of the month, October through May. Both choirs live stream their services here.

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. 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.

Publications DBLP Google Scholar



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.


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: January 1, 2018.