Cyrus Omar designs modern user interfaces for modern programming languages.

Education

Carnegie Mellon University
PhD, Computer Science
UIUC
BS, Computer Science
BS, Molecular & Cellular Biology

Teaching

Advising

PhD Students

Masters and Undergraduates

There are 35+ masters and undergraduate reseachers in FP Lab — see the FP Lab webpage!

Former Advisees

FP Lab alum include 1 Assistant Professor (Michael D. Adams), 10 PhD students, and 100+ students who went on to MS programs or industry!

Service

2024
POPL PC · OOPSLA PC · VL/HCC PC · Onward! PC · LIVE PC · SPLASH-E PC · HATRA Publicity Chair · CSE DEI Committee
2023
PLDI PC · ECOOP PC · VL/HCC PC · MWPLS Co-chair · TyDe SC Chair · ECOOP Area Chair (Brave New Ideas and Pearls) · HATRA PC · IFL PC · SPLASH-E PC · SPLASH SRC · PLMW @ ICFP Panelist · CSE DEI Committee · CSE Hosting Committee
2022
VL/HCC PC · TyDe SC Chair · HATRA PC · IFL PC · Rust Edu Co-founder and SC Member · SPLASH SRC · SPLASH PLMW Mentor · CSE DEI Committee · CSE Hosting Committee
2020
TyDe Co-Chair · MWPLS Co-Chair · ICFP ERC · ICFP SRC · HATRA PC · LIVE PC · CSE DEI Committee
2019
Onward! PC · ML Workshop PC · META PC · LIVE PC · ICFP AEC
I lead the Future of Programming Lab (FP Lab), part of the vibrant MPLSE research community.
Recent Publications & Projects

Hazel: Live Functional Programming with Typed Holes

Hazel is a new kind of live programming environment that can reason about and run incomplete programs, i.e. programs with holes of various forms. The following publications develop the semantic foundations for hole-driven development.

POPL 2024
Eric Zhao, Raef Maroof, Anand Dukkipati, Andrew Blinn, Zhiyi Pan, and Cyrus Omar
Distinguished Paper Award
OOPSLA 2023
Yongwei Yuan, Scott Guest, Eric Griffis, Hannah Potter, David Moon, and Cyrus Omar
Distinguished Paper Award
POPL 2019
Cyrus Omar, Ian Voysey, Ravi Chugh and Matthew A. Hammer

Tylr: Eliminating Parse Errors with Holes

Parse errors are a pain for beginners and experts alike. The Tylr project eliminates parse errors (!) by automatically tracking syntactic obligations and materializing them as holes and other affordances. This benefits both humans and downstream tooling.

VL/HCC 2023
David Moon, Andrew Blinn, and Cyrus Omar
POPL 2017
Cyrus Omar, Ian Voysey, Michael Hilton, Jonathan Aldrich and Matthew A. Hammer

I was awarded the NSF CAREER Award for leading our ongoing work on Tylr and related systems!

Livelits: Filling Typed Holes with Live GUIs

We are working on integrating graphical and programmatic modes of interaction by developing language mechanisms that allow you to define type-specific user interfaces that generate code underneath, i.e. they serve as interactive graphical literal notation.

PROPL 2024
Alexander Bandukwala, Andrew Blinn, and Cyrus Omar
PLDI 2021
Cyrus Omar, David Moon, Andrew Blinn, Ian Voysey, Nicholas Collins, and Ravi Chugh
ICSE 2012
Cyrus Omar, YoungSeok Yoon, Thomas D. LaToza and Brad A. Myers

Hazel Assistant: Integrative Foundations for Intelligent Programming Assistants

We are developing an intelligent programming assistant that synthesizes code satisfying specifications provided by human programmers in the form of types, tests, properties, and sketches, and guided by a learned understanding of idiomatic code (increasingly using large language models).

VL/HCC 2022
Andrew Blinn, David Moon, Eric Griffis, and Cyrus Omar
ICFP 2020
Justin Lubin, Nicholas Collins, Cyrus Omar, and Ravi Chugh

Hazel Tutor: Semantically Grounded Educational Technology

We are developing educational technology grounded in the semantic foundations of typed hole-driven development.

Onward! 2022
Hannah Potter, Ardi Madadi, René Just, and Cyrus Omar

RustViz: Interactively Visualizing Ownership and Borrowing

The Rust programming language achieves memory and thread safety using a static ownership and borrowing analysis. This has led to explosive adoption, but learning Rust remains challenging. We are developing RustViz, a system that makes learning Rust easier by visualizing the invisible static state changes that occur within Rust code.

VL/HCC 2022
Marcelo Almeida, Grant Cole, Ke Du, Gongming Luo, Shulin Pan, Yu Pan, Kai Qiu, Vishnu Reddy, Haochen Zhang, Yingying Zhu, and Cyrus Omar

Read our RustViz-based quick introduction to Rust!

RustViz, which is developed by an all-undergraduate team, reached 2000+ stars on GitHub!
Previous Publications & Projects

Relit: Reasonably Programmable Literal Notation

My thesis research developed mechanisms that allow library providers to express new type-specific literal notation (e.g. SQL literals) while ensuring that client programmers can still reason abstractly and compositionally about types and binding.

ICFP 2018
Cyrus Omar and Jonathan Aldrich
ECOOP 2014
Cyrus Omar, Darya Kurilova, Ligia Nistor, Benjamin Chung, Alex Potanin and Jonathan Aldrich
Distinguished Paper Award

Relit implements the mechanism from the ICFP 2018 paper into Reason, which is Facebook's new front-end for OCaml. The Wyvern programming language implements the mechanism from the ECOOP 2014 paper.

There has been a great deal of excitement around both Relit [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and Wyvern [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]!

typy: Programmable Semantic Fragments

typy allows library providers to install new statically typed semantic fragments into Python, while leaving its syntax alone (which cleverly sidesteps the "expression problem"). We have applied typy to problems in web security and data science.

PSP 2014
Nathan Fulton, Cyrus Omar and Jonathan Aldrich
Best Paper Award

The typy implementation is quiet as I focus on my other projects, but if you want to take the lead, contact me!

SciUnit: Collaborative Infrastructure for Test-Driven Scientific Model Validation

One of the pillars of the scientific method is model validation: comparing a scientific model’s predictions against empirical data. The SciUnit project casts this as a form of collaborative software testing and develops useful infrastructure.

ICSE 2014
NIER Track
Cyrus Omar, Richard C. Gerkin and Jonathan Aldrich

My collaborators Rick Gerkin and Sharon Crook continue to develop and apply SciUnit as part of the SciDash project.

Capability Safe Programming Languages

We argue for concise formal architecture descriptions which are responsible for specifying constraints and passing a minimal set of capabilities to downstream system components, or explicitly entrusting them to individuals playing defined roles within a team.

IWACO 2014
Jonathan Aldrich, Cyrus Omar, Alex Potanin, and Du Li

We are now starting to think about applying these ideas to agentic AI safety.

Neurobiological Circuit Dynamics

I entered grad school as a computational neurobiologist. I was interested in how biological circuits process information, so I developed a model of how the excitatory-inhibitory circuitry in the rodent whisker barrel cortex responds to stimulation.

J. Neurosci.
2012
Jason W. Middleton, Cyrus Omar, Brent Doiron and Daniel J. Simons

I still find brains fascinating, but I think we will need more powerful computational tools to make the next leap in understanding, so now I study programming languages and programming environments!

Information Theoretic Foundations for Brain-Computer Interfaces

We built a provably optimal EEG-based brain-computer interface by studying the information theoretic properties of noisy asymmetric channels and developing statistical models of user intent for various types of communication/control tasks.

IJHCI 2011
BCI Issue
Cyrus Omar, Abdullah Akce, Miles Johnson, Timothy Bretl, Rui Ma, Edward Maclin, Michael McCormick and Todd Coleman

I remain very interested in building tools that help people with limited mobility and other disabilities express their intent. I also remain very interested in tastefully incorporating statistical models of user intent into programming environments.