The University of Arizona
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Todd A. Proebsting

Professor and Department Head
Office: Gould-Simpson 739
Phone: 621-4324 (Note: Voicemail is broken.)
Fax: 621-4246
E-mail:


Research

I am working on research reproducibility in Computer Science. Currently, this centers around creating a public database of recent CS publications AND their associated digital artifacts: www.findresearch.org.

I am also interested in programmer productivity in general. I am dismayed at the current state of programming tools (e.g. programming languages, development environments, static analysis tools) and I think we can do much better. My primary focus here is investigating how to get rid of all the clutter in most statically-checked computer programs without sacrificing the benefits of static analysis.

Finally, my efforts in deploying prediction markets at Microsoft has made me very interested in information aggregation and incentives. How do we elicit information from people (or machines), and aggregate it in a way that rewards good information sources?

Teaching

2017 Spring: CSC 453, Compilers
2016 Spring: Programming Workshop
2015 Fall: Programming Workshop
2015 Spring: CSC 352, C and System Software
2013 Fall: CSC 630, System Software
2013 Spring: CSC 553, Compilers

Patents

At Microsoft, I patented a variety of things, some of which are kind of cool. The list is here.

Recent History

Before coming to the University of Arizona in August 2012, I was at Microsoft for 15 years. I was a founding member of Microsoft's cloud computing project, which ultimately became Windows Azure.

In 2003 at Microsoft, I founded Microsoft's efforts in using prediction markets to help forecast future events. This ultimately led to markets that successfully predicted a huge delay in a major product.

Vanity

I may be best known for "Proebsting's Law", which asserts that compiler optimizations have yielded annual performance gains an order of magnitude worse than hardware performance gains. The law probably would have gone unnoticed had it not been for the protests by those receiving funds to do compiler optimization research.

I am also known for "Proebsting's Paradox", which is an unexpected result in a provably optimal gambling strategy. Unlike Proebsting's Law, I did not name this one after myself, but rather Dr. Ed Thorp (of Beat The Dealer fame) named it after me. (See Wikipedia for details.)

Amused at the ridiculousness of having things named after myself, I was hoping for "Proebsting's Folly", where I was going to convince the United States Government to buy the sovereign nation of Iceland to get them out of their banking troubles a few years ago. (This was based on the premise that every US purchase of a really cold territory is a "folly".) Unfortunately (for me), Iceland was able to recover.