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Professor of Computer Science at the School of Information Technology. Appointed in 2010.
Professor Taha's research interests include semantics of programming languages, type systems, compilers, software generation, real-time and physically safe computations. He develops programming languages and methods for building software for embedded and intelligent.
"There is a growing trend whereby traditional systems are becoming more and more computerised and sophisticated, that is, basically, more intelligent," says Walid Taha.
Virtually all machines today are controlled by computers. This is the case in the home, in the office, in industry, in health care, and in many other places. At the same time, most computers are becoming embedded, that is, incorporated in something else. We see this in things like the remote control, the phone, the coffee machine, the washing machine, and the car. A modern car may have as many 50 or more computing units (processors). These controllers control virtually everything in the car, including locks, engine, lights, windows, temperature, traction control, brakes, air-bags, navigation, route guidance, entertainment and communication.
"Today, the computing power and the mechanical devices are readily available. But to get the computer to tell the mechanical device to do what exactly what you actually want ... Well, that's the challenge. Cooking is easy for most people, but to try to build a machine or a robot to do that. Suddenly, cooking becomes a much bigger challenge," says Walid Taha.
The challenge with adding intelligence lies largely in how to make sure that the system is still reliable. This includes ensuring how reliable the interaction between the different computers and systems are. A car that is built to avoid a crash must be reliable in that the evasive action must take place at exactly the right time; otherwise, the new function itself can become a safety hazard.
"When we add intelligence to a device, it becomes even more important that everything is done correctly, and in a way that is intuitive to the user," said Walid Taha.
Tele-surgery is another such example, where a surgical operation is performed remotely using a surgical robot and a wide area network (like the internet). This is a perfect example of a "cyber-physical system." Simply put, such systems are devices that are controlled and communicate over “a cyberspace", be it local or wide range. It can be as sophisticated as tele-surgery or as simple as a "regular" computer sending e-mails to a dishwasher telling it to start. Obviously, the possibilities with more sophisticated applications is very exciting, but there are also a lot of possibilities with simply better networking and utilizing devices that are already in wide commercial use.
Professor Taha has made significant contributions to the development of a wide range programming language innovations. He is the principal designer of several language prototypes, including Java Mint, MetaOCaml, ConCoqtion and Verilog preprocessor.
Professor Taha's current research focus is on the design of a new language called Acumen (www.acumen-language.org). Early versions of the language can already be downloaded from the website. Acumen is a computer language for the modelling, simulating and verifying of cyber-physical systems. Professor Taha believes that languages like Acumen will play a very important role in the development of next-generation cyberphysical systems.
Walid Mohamed Taha was born in Egypt. He has a BA in Computer Engineering from Kuwait University. In 1999 he gained his Ph.D. in Computer Science (Computer Science and Engineering) at the Oregon Graduate Institute, USA.
During 1999–2000, Walid Taha had a postdoctoral position at Chalmers University in Sweden. Between 2000 and 2002, he worked in research at Yale University, USA. From 2002 to 2010, Professor Taha was an Assistant Professor at Rice University, USA, where he is now an Adjunct Professor. In 2010, he was hired as a Professor here at Halmstad University.