Green Software Engineer Gets Big NSF Grant

A Binghamton University computer scientist has been awarded a five-year, $448,641 grant from the NSF (National Science Foundation) for his ideas on how to make technology more efficient. Yu David Liu, who already received $50,000 from Google for a related research project, believes that there is a layer to approaching energy efficiency in computerized devices that has been getting overlooked and it looks as if he’s ready to tackle it.

Until now, most scientists have tackled the problem of ever increasing energy demands of our gadgets by making adjustments to the hardware. Liu’s plan attacks the problem at the software level by employing advanced programming language called  “type systems” that will look at the energy consumption patterns of a large program as well as its individual fragments. Changes could then be made that would reduce a device’s energy consumption by changing the way the program operates the device. Liu calls it “energy aware programming.”


Image via Hudson Library

Since Liu’s approach is not platform specific, it could potentially be “tacked on” to any number of different programming languages. “None of the mainstream computer languages supports energy-aware programming,” said Liu in a statement, ” However, language designers often create a blueprint that can be extended. Java, for instance, could be extended as EnergyJava and remain 90 percent the same. Such moderate changes would make it possible for programmers to adopt it relatively easily.”

Liu admits that, since this is a brand new idea, it is impossible to predict how quickly or slowly his energy aware programming might catch on with programmers. If it does catch on, though, it could forever change the way programmers think. Based on the grants Liu has been awarded recently, some big minds seem to think the idea has legs. Something tells us we will be hearing more from Yu david Liu in the near future.