Alexia Massalin

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Alexia Massalin (born Henry Massalin) is an American computer scientist and programmer. Massalin pioneered the concept of superoptimization,[1] and designed the Synthesis kernel [2] , a small kernel with a Unix compatibility layer that makes heavy use of self-modifying code for efficiency.

After high school, she was given a scholarship to the Cooper Union School of Engineering in Manhattan. where she obtained a bachelors and masters degree. She went to obtain her Ph.D. in computer science from Columbia University in 1992, studying under professor Calton Pu. In October 1992, Dr. Massalin joined MicroUnity as a research scientist, where she is responsible for signal-processing modules and software architecture.[3]

In a 1996 article in WIRED magazine, the author Gary Andrew Poole said she "could be the Einstein of our time."[4] She was well known for offering piggy back rides to people she met, which included notable computer scientists such as Dennis Ritchie, Ken Thompson and artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky.[5]

Personal life[edit]

His parents were Croatian refugees who moved Astoria, Queens, in the 1940s, where his dad became a construction worker.


  1. ^ Massalin, Alexia Henry (1987). Randy Katz, ed. "Superoptimizer: a look at the smallest program" (PDF). Proceedings of the second international conference on Architectural support for programming languages and operating systems: 122–126. doi:10.1145/36206.36194. ISBN 0-8186-0805-6. Retrieved 2012-04-25. Lay summary (1995-06-14). Given an instruction set, the superoptimizer finds the shortest program to compute a function. Startling programs have been generated, many of them engaging in convoluted bit-fiddling bearing little resemblance to the source programs which defined the functions. The key idea in the superoptimizer is a probabilistic test that makes exhaustive searches practical for programs of useful size. 
  2. ^ Massalin, Alexia Henry (1992). Synthesis: An Efficient Implementation of Fundamental Operating System Services (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). Columbia University New York, NY, USA. UMI Order No. GAX92-32050. Retrieved 2012-04-25. Lay summary (2008-02-20). [O]perating systems can provide fundamental services an order of magnitude more efficiently than traditional implementations. 
  3. ^ "Company: MicroUnity". Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  4. ^ "Qua". WIRED. Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  5. ^ Poole, Gary Andrew (1998-12-24). "In the Land of the Weird, Standing Out Takes a Little Work". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-02-09.