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Open PhD Positions

A number of PhD research projects have been selected for funding through the last call of the Microsoft PhD Scholarship Programme. For some of these projects, PhD supervisors are seeking suitable students. The research projects listed on this page are currently accepting applications from PhD students.


Funded Doctoral Studentship on Lightweight Concurrency Modelling

Primary supervisor: Dr. Mike Dodds, University of York
Microsoft Research supervisor: Dr. Matthew Parkinson, Microsoft Research Cambridge
Application deadline: 29 April 2016

Summary: Concurrent systems remain extremely challenging to develop. The aim of this project is to developing lightweight modelling tools for concurrent algorithms, based on ideas from recent concurrent logics. The objective is to support rapid prototyping and counter-example finding during the development process, while incorporating the expressiveness and modularity of modern logics.

There is a well-worn path from logical formalism to specification languages such as Alloy, TLA+ and others. However, non-blocking concurrent algorithms present distinctive challenges. They depend on intricate protocols between threads, and these protocols are mediated through dynamic data-structures – arrays, lists, trees. There is an intimate connection between protocols and data which is not present in (for example) distributed systems. These algorithms are finely tuned to satisfy their context: in pursuit of scalability, the fastest algorithms skirt the borderline of correct behaviour.

The current generation of concurrent logics are designed specifically to address these challenges. They use separation logic for dynamic data; rely-guarantee for protocols; and refinement to support rich correctness conditions. Our experience as algorithm designers has shown these notions are very useful in understanding concurrent systems. Your aim will be to develop a modelling language that allows designers to leverage the power of these logics, while avoiding much of their cost.

(We will consider alternative projects in the area of concurrency and verification if proposed by an exceptional candidate. If you would like to do this, please contact Mike Dodds before applying -

Application: Please send your full application materials (see including a cover letter, research statement, transcripts, CV, as well as contact details of at least two references to Your research statement is critical and should address how your interests relate to this project and why you want to do a PhD with us.

In order to apply, you must have, or expect to obtain, a First or a high Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree, or equivalent qualification, and/or a Master's degree in Computer Science or a related discipline.

Applications should be made via York’s Online Applications system (see In addition, please email to notify us of your application.

Mark applications ‘Dr. M Dodds, Microsoft PhD studentship’. Please make sure your research proposal explains your suitability for the project.

The deadline for applications is 29 April 2016. The start date of the PhD is negotiable, but must be before 31 March 2017.

Posted 14 April 2016