PhD Position in Computer Systems focusing on Hardware Offload of Managed Language Runtimes

Uppsala University Department of Information Technology


PhD Student in Computer Systems Focusing on Hardware Offload of Managed Language Runtimes

Uppsala University is a comprehensive research-intensive university with a strong international standing. Our mission is to pursue top-quality research and education and to interact constructively with society. Our most important assets are all the individuals whose curiosity and dedication make Uppsala University one of Sweden’s most exciting workplaces. Uppsala University has 46.000 students, 7.300 employees and a turnover of SEK 7.3 billion.

The Department of Information Technology holds a leading position in research as well as teaching at all levels. The department has 280 employees, including 120 faculty, 110 PhD students, and 30 research groups. More than 4000 students are enrolled annually.

Duties/Project description: Managed languages (such as Java, Python, R and JavaScript) allow a high level of programming abstraction which allows rapid application development with fewer errors. Despite huge improvements in performance of managed languages lately (exemplified by Graal, JavaScript VMs), managed languages are still often slower than their compiled counterparts (e.g. C, C++ and Rust) due to extra checks and operations performed at run-time.

This project aims to address these performance issues by offloading run-time tasks to hardware. As a concrete example, consider recent hardware advances that allow tagging of memory with metadata. If the programming language can communicate the right metadata to hardware memory tags, some of the aforementioned checks and operations can be moved to hardware, where it can be performed more efficiently, and only be done in software as a last resort.

This requires hardware, execution environments and compilers to work together and shifting costs so that each component can play to its strengths.

As a consequence, we hope that more applications can be written in safe programming languages with high developer productivity, making a larger class of programs open to a larger class of developers, and making software more sustainable.

The position is for four years of research, but will typically include 20% teaching extending the time to five years. We encourage our students to do industrial internships during their PhDs. You will be expected to teach in Swedish or English.

Requirements: Candidates should have a Master of Science in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or equivalent.

Ultimately, pursuing a PhD will require that you learn new skills and master new subjects. While we consider experience with computer architecture, compilers, runtimes and programming languages important and meritorious, you will be working in a coaching-focused environment where such skills can readily be improved with help from your advisors, fellow PhD students, and courses. Thus, aptitude, self-motivation, interest and perseverance are therefore more important a particular skill-set. There are however a few things which one will not have the time to learn during a PhD and hence we require that applicants are already good writers and programmers, and are able to point to indications thereof, such as text and code produced by the in the past.

In addition to the above, applicants should be able to work well both on their own and with others in a diverse group, be comfortable giving and receiving constructive criticism, and have strong abilities for critical thinking and structured work. These competencies are as important as the technical qualifications. Please see for more details.

Excellent skills in spoken and written English are an absolute requirement.

Additional qualifications: Experience with computer architecture, compilers, runtimes and programming languages

Working in Sweden: Sweden is a fantastic place for living and working. Swedes are friendly and speak excellent English. The quality of life is high, with a strong emphasis on outdoor activities. The Swedish working climate emphasizes an open atmosphere, with active discussions involving both junior and senior staff. PhD students are full employees, with competitive salaries, pension provision and five weeks of paid leave per year. Spouses of employees are entitled to work permits. Healthcare is free after a small co-pay and the university subsidizes athletic costs, such as a gym membership. The parental benefits in Sweden are among the best in the world, including extensive parental leave (for both parents), paid time off to care for sick children, and affordable daycare. Upon completion of the PhD degree, students are entitled to permanent residency to find employment within Sweden.

Application: The application must include a statement (at most 2 pages) of the applicant’s motivation for applying for this position, including the candidate’s research interests and how they will support this project, a description of MSc thesis, and evidence of the applicant’s self-motivation and ability to work in a group. The application must also include a CV, degrees and grades (translated to English or Swedish), a copy of the MSc thesis (or a draft thereof), publications (and specific descriptions of the candidate’s own contributions), links to online repositories of code and other artefacts (such as GitHub or Bitbucket) other relevant documents, and the earliest possible starting date. Contact information for at least one reference should be provided. Promising applicants will be invited for a practical programming challenge and an in-depth interview before hiring.

Presently there are more employees with legal gender male than legal gender female among the PhD Students at TekNat. The University is striving to reach a more equal gender balance between the legal genders within this category.

Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines

Salary: According to local agreement for PhD students

Starting date: As soon as possible or otherwise agreed

Type of employment: Temporary position according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7

Scope of employment: 100 %

For further information about the position please contact: Professor David Black-Schaffer, Ph. +4618 471 6830, or Professor Tobias Wrigstad Ph. +4618 471 1072,

Please submit your application by 15 December 2020, UFV-PA 2020/3692.

Are you considering moving to Sweden to work at Uppsala University? If so, you will find a lot of information about working and living in Sweden at You are also welcome to contact International Faculty and Staff Services at

Please do not send offers of recruitment or advertising services.

Submit your application through Uppsala University's recruitment system.

Placement: Department of Information Technology

Type of employment: Full time , Temporary position longer than 6 months

Pay: Fixed salary

Number of positions: 1

Working hours: 100 %

Town: Uppsala

County: Uppsala län

Country: Sweden

Union representative: ST/TCO
Seko Universitetsklubben

Number of reference: UFV-PA 2020/3692

Last application date: 2020-12-15

In your application, please refer to