Ian Piumarta

Professor, Ph.D. in Computer Science
I'm looking forward to helping you master computer programming and micro-controller interfacing in classes, and helping you succeed with your personal projects in our Electronics Workshop. If research in meta-programming and virtual machines interests you, I'd love for you to come and work in my lab!
Areas of Research
Meta-programming, Dynamic Languages, Domain-Specific Languages, Virtual Machines, Self-Modifying and Reconfigurable Systems, Microcontrollers, Microprocessors, Limited-Resource Computing
  • Profile
  • Research
  • Dr. Ian Piumarta obtained his B.Sc. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from Manchester University, United Kingdom in 1987 and 1992, respectively. Shortly afterwards, he moved to France, where he worked at IRCAMINRIA and the University of Paris. In 2004, he accepted a position as senior computer scientist, first at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and then at Viewpoints Research Institute in California. While at Viewpoints he spent a year as a visiting researcher at Kyoto University, and another as a JSPS Fellow at Ritsumeikan University before accepting a full-time position with them in 2014. In 2019 he joined KUAS Faculty of Engineering as a professor.

    Dr. Piumarta is interested in technologies that improve how we design, understand, and interact with current and future programmable software and hardware systems, and is actively pursuing research in several related areas. One such technology is meta-programming, which allows a programming system to have knowledge of itself and modify its own characteristics. An application that is able to observe and analyze its own behavior can adapt itself to changing conditions, improving performance and reducing resource requirements. A meta-programmable programming language lets the programmer invent more elegant ways to model and express solutions to problems, making programs less complex, easier to reason about, and ultimately more reliable.

    Dr. Piumarta also runs KUAS’ Electronics Workshop where he is responsible for a unique facility in which faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates can pursue their own research or learning projects, with the aid of the latest high-tech prototyping and testing equipment. He is looking forward to sharing his passion for computer science and electronics, inspiring curiosity, creativity, and innovation in a new generation of KUAS engineers.

    In his spare time, Dr. Piumarta enjoys weekend trips to appreciate onsen, building high-fidelity audio equipment, eating good food (both in and out), movies, and playing his guitars.

  • A New Approach to Programming

    Dr. Piumarta began programming at the age of ten on a Texas Instruments programmable calculator, and his passion for computers has driven him to live in three continents as the advancements in computer technology have shaped almost every detail of our modern life. He is also interested in how we interact with computers, and one of his greatest research goals is to fundamentally simplify this interaction.

    He has recently been working on scaling down source code, proving that it is possible to render complex operations in just a few lines of code. Using this knowledge as a base, he is looking to make our programming languages “intelligent”, coming up with more elegant ways to model and express solutions to problems, making programs less complex, easier to reason about, and ultimately more reliable. Specifically, this field is called meta-programming. It allows a programming system to have knowledge of itself and modify its own characteristics. Any system that can observe and analyze its own behavior and adapt itself to changing conditions, has the potential to improve performance or reduce resource requirements. Take communication in the Internet of Things (IoT), for instance, which uses protocols that can be complex to implement and yet easy to describe with the help of the right models and ways to express behavior that can evolve easily in parallel with our understanding of the problem.

    Using this, Dr. Piumarta wants to take on the “programming crisis” – he believes that it is still far too challenging to make a program do what you want it to, and he wants to bring this flexibility into the mainstream. If he were to achieve this, one could say that his decades of research would  come full-circle. Furthermore, he sees further applications, specifically through applying such software parameters to the hardware side. With more and more devices becoming “smart” as part of the Internet of Things, this could have profound implications. One potential application would thus be self-modifying hardware, which is able to configure itself based on what external factors require. Starting with his calculator that had a mere two kilobytes of ram, Dr. Piumarta has taken his passion into a fascinating career, and we are excited to see how he will look to revolutionize programming from here on out.