Computer science student and advisor earn best paper award

Prashant Kumar

Oregon State University doctoral student Prashant Kumar and his advisor, Martin Erwig, Stretch Professor of Computer Science, received the John McCarthy Best Paper Award at the 2023 Symposium on Trends in Functional Programming.

Their paper, “MatchMaker: A DSL for Game-Theoretic Matching,” describes the pair’s work to create a domain-specific language, or DSL, to solve matching problems.

“Creating a programming language tailored for a specific area allows those without a deep background in coding to still engage with and solve complex problems,” Kumar said. “MatchMaker was crafted with a singular focus on the world of matching problems, adopting the language and nuances of this domain.”

Examples of matching problems include:

  • Hospital-resident matching: In the healthcare sector, the National Resident Matching Program aims to pair new medical school graduates with hospital residency training programs.
  • Organ donor-recipient matching: The critical process of organ transplantation relies on matching donors to recipients, which must be done both accurately and quickly  to save lives.
  • School district-student matching: The task of student placement is high-stakes and complex across many school districts in the United States. Matching algorithms often come into play to achieve this efficiently.

MatchMaker also incorporates an advanced programming language feature known as type systems, which boosts error reporting, making it easier to spot and correct mistakes. It also ensures that the solutions created are straightforward to maintain over the long haul.

Erwig points out that the design of MatchMaker emphasizes the explainability of computing results, the topic of Kumar’s dissertation.

“In MatchMaker, explainability is realized by a focus on typed representations and operations for comparing results,” Erwig said. “Since users need to trust the results of computing systems, the ability of computing systems to explain their results will become more and more important in the age of misinformation and AI-generated content.”

Kumar completed his degree in June and is headed to Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, as a postdoctoral scholar.


June 26, 2023