UCL Computer Science


Professor Earl Barr receives prestigious ACM Distinguished Member recognition

13 December 2022

Earl Barr, Professor of Software Engineering at UCL Computer Science, received the honour from the world’s largest computing society for his ground-breaking scientific contributions to computing.

Professor Earl T. Barr recognised as ACM Distinguished Member

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has named Professor Earl Barr as one of 67 Distinguished Members for 2022.

The Distinguished Members award is given annually to a very select group of ACM members worldwide who have made significant achievements in the field of computer science. All nominees are required to have at least 15 years of professional experience and five years of professional membership to be considered. 

Professor Barr was chosen by his peers for his pioneering work on the naturalness of software, which the community acknowledged with a 10-year most influential paper award at International Conference of Software Engineering in 2022.

He was also recognised for his dedication to improving software processes and tools with a focus on the needs of developers, exemplified by his work on time-travel debugging, which Microsoft adopted.

On receiving the award, Professor Barr said: “I am honoured that the ACM recognised my work in this year’s honour roll. I began working on applying natural language and machine learning techniques to software engineering problems in 2011.  

In our naturalness work, my co-authors and I observed that source code is, despite the then prevailing conventional wisdom, well-suited for these techniques because, at its core, it exhibits the same sort of patterns as natural language. It is exciting to see this line of work grow in size and importance and culminate in tools like the newly released ChatGPT, which promises to transform software engineering.

In all my work, I have had the pleasure and honour to collaborate with many colleagues from across the globe. I look forward to continuing and deepening these collaborations and establishing new ones.”

Head of Department at UCL Computer Science, Professor Steve Hailes, said: "Earl is a mainstay of our software engineering group and has long been a deep thinker about new approaches to the construction of robust and reliable software, drawing on advances elsewhere in Computer Science and fusing them with his own deep expertise to push the field forward.

I have had the privilege and pleasure of witnessing this first hand over the past two years as we have worked together, and so I am delighted to see Earl recognised as a Distinguished Member; it is most certainly well deserved."

Professor Barr joined UCL Computer Science in 2012 having previously worked at the University of California, Davis.