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Alexi Turcotte is a PhD student at Northeastern’s College of Computer and Information Science focusing on programming languages, advised by Professor Dr. Jan Vitek. He comes from Sudbury, Ontario in Canada. He earned his BS in Mathematics and Computer Science from Laurentian University and his MMath in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.
Turcotte’s research extensively covers programming languages, from low-level compiler hacking to broad-strokes language design and formalization. He seeks to bridge the gap between the abstract and practical components of programming languages. He was drawn to the field because of its connection to abstract algebra, an early interest of his.
- BSc in Math & Computer Science, Laurentian University
- MMath in Computer Science, University of Waterloo
- Hometown: Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
- Field of Study: Programming Languages
- PhD Advisor: Jan Vitek
What are the specifics of your graduate education (thus far)?
I started my undergrad as a BA in Political Science, switched to BA Math, and settled on BSc Math & Computer Science. I then found myself at the University of Waterloo, pursuing an MMath in Computer Science. The rest is, well, now.
What are your research interests in a bit more detail? Is your current academic/research path what you always had in mind for yourself, or has it evolved somewhat? If so, how/why?
I’m broadly interested in Programming Languages research, with no specific focus on any particular area therein. From low level compiler hacking to broad-strokes language design and formalization, I like to think that there’s always an interesting problem to be found. My original plan was to become a diplomat, so I can’t say that I ever imagined being where I am now. Life is full of surprises.
What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?
Any two pieces of programming languages research can be either incredibly practical or impractically abstract. If I could work towards bridging that gap, I’d be all smiles.
What aspect of what you do is most interesting/fascinating to you? What aspects of your research (findings, angles, problems you’re solving) might surprise others?
I was drawn to my field because of its connection to abstract algebra (I took a PL course and an algebra course at the same time, maybe I was double-dipping a bit), and I was certainly surprised that high-level abstract math had anything to do with programming.
What are your research/career goals, going forward?
So far, research is pretty chill. I’d like to stick with that.
Where did you grow up/spend the most defining years of your childhood/young adulthood?
I grew up in a crater. Whether or not that defines me, I’ll leave up to you.