Chris Lattner

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Chris Lattner
Chris Lattner in 2020
Lattner in 2020
Born1978 (age 43–44)
Alma mater
Known forLLVM, Clang, Swift
Spouse(s)Tanya Mich Lattner (née Brethour)
Scientific career
FieldsCompilers, programming languages
ThesisMacroscopic Data Structure Analysis and Optimization (2005; 17 years ago (2005))
Doctoral advisorVikram Adve

Chris Lattner (born 1978) is an American software engineer best known as the main author of LLVM and related projects such as the Clang compiler and the Swift programming language. As of January 21, 2022, he is the CEO at Modular AI, a artificial intelligence company he co-founded.[1] Before founding Modular AI, he was working at SiFive as Senior Vice President of Platform Engineering,[2][3] after two years at Google Brain.[4] Prior to that, he briefly served as Vice President of Autopilot Software[5] at Tesla, Inc. and worked at Apple Inc. as Senior Director of the Developer Tools department, leading the Xcode, Instruments, and compiler teams.[6][7]


Lattner studied computer science at the University of Portland, Oregon, graduating in 2000. While in Oregon, he worked as an operating system developer, enhancing Sequent Computer Systems's DYNIX/ptx.[7][8] He is married to compiler engineer Tanya Lattner, who co-founded and is president and COO[9] of the LLVM Foundation since 2015.[10]


In late 2000, Lattner joined the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a research assistant and M.Sc. student. While working with Vikram Adve, he designed and began implementing LLVM, an innovative infrastructure for optimizing compilers, which was the subject of his 2002 M.Sc. thesis. He completed his Ph.D. in 2005, researching new techniques for optimizing pointer-intensive programs and adding them to LLVM.[11]

In 2005, Apple Inc. hired Lattner to begin work bringing LLVM to production quality for use in Apple products. Over time, Lattner built out the technology, personally implementing many major new features in LLVM, formed and built a team of LLVM developers at Apple, started the Clang project, took responsibility for evolving Objective-C (contributing to the blocks language feature, and driving the ARC and Objective-C literals features), and nurtured the open source community (leading it through many open source releases). Apple first shipped LLVM-based technology in the 10.5 (and 10.4.8) OpenGL stack as a just-in-time (JIT) compiler, shipped the llvm-gcc compiler in the integrated development environment (IDE) Xcode 3.1, Clang 1.0 in Xcode 3.2, Clang 2.0 (with C++ support) in Xcode 4.0, and LLDB, libc++, assemblers, and disassembler technology in later releases.[12]

Lattner's work involved designing, implementing, and evangelizing the LLVM and Clang compilers, productizing and driving the debugger LLDB, and overseeing development of the low-level toolchain. As of 2016, LLVM technologies are the core of Apple's developer tools and the default toolchain on FreeBSD.[13]

In June 2010, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Special Interest Group on programming languages (SIGPLAN) gave Lattner its inaugural ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Software Award "for his design and development of the Low Level Virtual Machine", noting that Professor Adve has stated: "Lattner’s talent as a compiler architect, together with his programming skills, technical vision, and leadership ability were crucial to the success of LLVM."[14]

In April 2013, the ACM awarded Lattner its Software System Award,[15] which is presented to anyone "recognized for developing a software system that has had a lasting influence, reflected in contributions to concepts, in commercial acceptance, or both".[6]


Swift is an open source[16][17] programming language with first-class functions for iOS and macOS development, created by Apple and introduced at Apple's developer conference Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014.[18]

Swift is designed to coexist[19] with Objective-C, the object-oriented programming language formerly preferred by Apple, and to be more resilient against erroneous code. It is built with the LLVM compiler included in Xcode 6.[20]

Lattner began developing Swift in 2010,[21] with the eventual collaboration of many other programmers. On June 2, 2014, the WWDC app became the first publicly released app that used Swift.[22]

Lattner announced that the Project Lead role had been transferred to Ted Kremenek, and that Lattner would leave Apple in January 2017.[23]


  1. ^ "Chris Lattner's Homepage". Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  2. ^ Chris Lattner. "With SiFive, We Can Change the World". SiFive Blog. Retrieved January 28, 2020.
  3. ^ "Former Google and Tesla Engineer Chris Lattner to Lead SiFive Platform Engineering Team". January 27, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  4. ^ Darrell Etherington (August 15, 2017). "Swift creator Chris Lattner joins Google Brain after Tesla Autopilot stint". Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  5. ^ Jordan Novet (June 20, 2017). "Tesla hires prominent A.I. researcher as Autopilot chief Lattner leaves". Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Award Winners Made Breakthroughs in Network Efficiency, Data Mining, Education, Game Theory, Programming, and Community Problem-Solving". ACM. April 9, 2013. Archived from the original on May 1, 2013. Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Chris Lattner. "Resume". Retrieved April 27, 2013.
  8. ^ "Swift's Chris Lattner on the Possibility of Machine Learning-Enabled Compilers". The New Stack. August 9, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  9. ^ "The most powerful female engineers of 2018 - Business Insider". July 1, 2020. Archived from the original on July 1, 2020. Retrieved July 1, 2020.
  10. ^ "Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation or LLVM Foundation" (PDF). May 29, 2015. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  11. ^ "Macroscopic Data Structure Analysis and Optimization". May 2005.
  12. ^ Constantine A. Murenin (May 2008). "Conference Reports, BSDCan: The BSD Conference, BSD licensed C++ compiler" (PDF). ;login:. USENIX (published August 2008). 33 (4): 114. ISSN 1044-6397.
  13. ^ Davis, Brooks (November 5, 2012). "Heads Up: Clang now the default on x86" (Mailing list). Retrieved May 12, 2019.
  14. ^ "ACM Group Honors Software Developer of Versatile Compilers Used in Advanced Mobile Devices". Press Release. Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) SIGPLAN. June 7, 2010. Archived from the original on August 22, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2010.
  15. ^ ACM (2013). Software System Award. Retrieved from "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved October 25, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link).
  16. ^ "Swift - Apple Developer". Apple Inc.
  17. ^ Inc, Apple. "".
  18. ^ Lardinois, Frederic. "Apple Launches Swift, A New Programming Language For Writing iOS And OS X Apps". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  19. ^ "Using Swift with Cocoa and Objective-C (Swift 2.2): Swift and Objective-C in the Same Project". Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  20. ^ "New Features in Xcode 6". Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  21. ^ "initial swift test ¡ apple/swift@18844bc ¡ GitHub". July 17, 2010. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  22. ^ "WWDC 2014 Session 102 - Platforms State of the Union - ASCIIwwdc". ASCIIwwdc.
  23. ^ Chris Lattner (January 10, 2017). "[swift-evolution] Update on the Swift Project Lead". swift-evolution (Mailing list).

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