Peter O'Hearn

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Peter O'Hearn

Peter O'Hearn at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2018
Peter William O'Hearn

(1963-07-13) 13 July 1963 (age 60)
NationalityBritish, Canadian
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom, Canada
Alma materDalhousie University (BSc)
Queen's University (MSc, PhD)
Known forSeparation logic[12]
Bunched logic[13]
Infer Static Analyzer[14]
Scientific career
FieldsProgramming languages[10]
Program analysis
Formal verification
Theoretical computer science[10]
Meta Platforms
University College London
Queen Mary University of London
Syracuse University
ThesisSemantics of Non-interference: A natural approach (1992)
Doctoral advisorRobert D. Tennent[11]

Peter William O'Hearn FRS FREng[5][7] (born 13 July 1963 in Halifax, Nova Scotia), formerly a research scientist at Meta,[15] is a Distinguished Engineer at Lacework[16] and a Professor of Computer science at University College London (UCL).[17] He has made significant contributions to formal methods for program correctness. In recent years these advances have been employed in developing industrial software tools that conduct automated analysis of large industrial codebases.[10]


O'Hearn attained a BSc degree in computer science from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (1985), followed by MSc (1987) and PhD (1991) degrees from Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. His dissertation was on Semantics of Non-interference: A natural approach, supervised by Robert D. Tennent.[11][18]

Career and research[edit]

O'Hearn is best known for separation logic,[12] a theory he developed with John C. Reynolds that unearthed new domains for scaling logical reasoning about code. This built on prior research from O'Hearn and David Pym on logic for resources, termed bunched logic.[13] With Stephen Brookes, Carnegie Mellon University, O'Hearn created Concurrent Separation Logic (CSL), extending the theory further. Tony Hoare, in discussing the grand challenge of program verification, described CSL as "solving two problems...concurrecy and object orientation".[19]

He conducted a study of programming languages which were similar to ALGOL, with his former doctoral advisor Robert D. Tennent, which became the book Algol-Like Languages.[20]

Separation logic has given rise to the Infer Static Analyzer (Facebook Infer), a static program analysis utility developed by O'Hearn's team at Facebook.[14] After 20 plus years in academia, O'Hearn began working at Facebook in 2013 with the acquisition of Monoidics Ltd, a startup he cofounded.[21] Since its inception, Infer has enabled Facebook engineers to resolve tens of thousands of bugs before reaching production.[22] It was open sourced in 2016, and is used by Amazon Inc, Spotify, Mozilla, Uber, and others.[14] In 2017, O'Hearn and the team open sourced RacerD, an automated static race condition detection tool that reduces the time it takes to flag potential problems in concurrent software, as part of the Infer platform.[23]

O'Hearn was an assistant professor at Syracuse University, New York, United States, from 1990 to 1995. He was a reader in computer science at Queen Mary University of London from 1996 to 1999 and then a full professor at Queen Mary until his move to University College London. At UCL he was granted a chair sponsored by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Microsoft Research.[24] In 1997 he was a visiting scientist at Carnegie Mellon University and in 2006 he was a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge.[18] He now shares his time working as a Distinguished Engineer at Lacework and a professor at UCL.[16]

Awards and honours[edit]

In 2007, O'Hearn was granted a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.[5] In 2011, O'Hearn and Samin Ishtiaq were awarded a Most Influential POPL Paper Award.[9] With Stephen Brookes, Carnegie Mellon University, he was co-recipient of the 2016 Gödel Prize, for the invention of Concurrent Separation Logic.[6] Also in 2016, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) and co-received the annual CAV (Computer Aided Verification) award.[7][8] In 2018, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS), and was bestowed with an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Dalhousie University.[4][5][3] January 2019 saw O'Hearn honoured with another Most Influential POPL Paper Award, which he shared with three colleagues.[2] The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) granted O'Hearn and three of his Facebook colleagues an IEEE Cybersecurity Award for Practice at their annual awards ceremony in October, 2021.[1]


  1. ^ a b "2021 IEEE award ceremony - IEEE Secure Development Conference".
  2. ^ a b "POPL 2019 Most Influential Paper Award for research that led to Facebook Infer". Facebook. 17 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b "Introducing Dal's honorary degree recipients for Spring Convocation 2018".
  4. ^ a b "Distinguished scientists elected as Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society". Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e Anon (2018). "Professor Peter O'Hearn FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 7 June 2018. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:

    “All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Terms, conditions and policies | Royal Society". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 7 June 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)

  6. ^ a b Chita, Efi (12–15 July 2016). "2016 Gödel Prize". European Association for Theoretical Computer Science.
  7. ^ a b c "Royal Academy Fellows 2016". Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b O'Sullivan, Bryan (5 September 2016). "Four Facebook Employees Win the Prestigious CAV Award". Facebook.[unreliable source?]
  9. ^ a b "Computer Science professor wins prestigious award". Queen Mary University of London. 3 February 2011.
  10. ^ a b c Peter O'Hearn publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  11. ^ a b Peter O'Hearn at the Mathematics Genealogy Project Edit this at Wikidata
  12. ^ a b Reynolds, John C. (2002). "Separation Logic: A Logic for Shared Mutable Data Structures" (PDF). LICS.
  13. ^ a b O'Hearn, P. W.; Pym, D. J. (June 1999). "The Logic of Bunched Implications". Bulletin of Symbolic Logic. 5 (2): 215–244. doi:10.2307/421090. JSTOR 421090. S2CID 2948552.
  14. ^ a b c "Infer static analyzer".
  15. ^ "Peter O'Hearn". Facebook Research.
  16. ^ a b "Peter O'Hearn".
  17. ^ "Peter O'Hearn".
  18. ^ a b Peter W O'Hearn, Curriculum Vitae Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, Queen Mary, University of London, UK.
  19. ^ Hoare, Tony (2003). "The verifying compiler". Journal of the ACM. 50: 63–69. doi:10.1145/602382.602403. S2CID 441648.
  20. ^ O'Hearn, Peter; Tennent, Robert D. (1997). Algol-Like Languages. Cambridge, MA: Birkhauser Boston. doi:10.1007/978-1-4612-4118-8. ISBN 978-0-8176-3880-1. S2CID 6273486.
  21. ^ "Facebook Acquires Assets Of UK Mobile Bug-Checking Software Developer Monoidics". TechCrunch. Verizon Media. 18 July 2013.
  22. ^ "Continuous Reasoning: Scaling the Impact of Formal Methods". Facebook Research.
  23. ^ "Facebook open sources RacerD: A tool that's already squashed 1,000 bugs in concurrent code". TechRepublic. 19 October 2017.
  24. ^ "Spring Newsletter". 2012. Archived from the original on 4 September 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2018.

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates text available under the CC BY 4.0 license.