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Paul McKenney

Software Engineer, Meta Platforms Inc.

“Cautionary Tales on Implementing the Software That People Want”

Thursday 16 February, 9.05am – 9.55am


“Be careful what you wish for. You might get it.”

I have been developing software for almost 50 years and supporting myself doing so for more than 45 of those years. Although I do occasionally code up something just for fun, the vast majority of the software that I have written has been requested (and paid for) by others. In other words, I have spent most of my career writing software that other people asked for.

As many have observed, it is hard enough to write software that runs correctly, but even harder to work out the correct software to write. This talk will tell the tale of a few of my attempts to correctly write the correct software.


Paul E. McKenney is a software engineer at Meta Platforms, and has been coding for almost half a century, with more than half of that on multicore hardware. Paul maintains the RCU implementation within the Linux kernel,
where the variety of workloads present highly entertaining performance, scalability, real-time response, and energy-efficiency challenges.

Paul also is lead maintainer for the Linux-kernel memory model (LKMM), the kernel concurrency sanitizer (KCSAN), and the nolibc library.

Paul previously worked for IBM LTC, Sequent Computer Systems, SRI International, himself, and the Oregon State University Computer Center, with his work having migrated from the upper reaches of the application stack to the lower reaches of the Linux kernel.

He received bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science and a masters degree in Computer Science, all from Oregon State University, along with a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from the OGI School of Science & Engineering at Oregon Health & Science University. He holds more than 100 patents and has a few hundred publications, perhaps most notably a freely downloadable book entitled “Is Parallel Programming Hard, And If So, What Can You Do About It?”, which has been used in university courses and tranlated into Korean and Chinese. His hobbies include hiking and gym workouts along with the usual house-wife-and-grown-kids habit.


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