Marshall Pierce

I write software.

I like working with multi-disciplinary teams on difficult problems with "best tool for the job" technology. I've worked with a lot of different tech over the years, and I try to work with other experts whose strong points complement where I'm less experienced. If you've got that sort of problem, get in touch ↴.

You can contact me via email at (my first name @ this domain) or on Twitter. I like sharing my knowledge, so feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Also, every once in a while I write a blog.


Cache friendliness, SIMD, GPU, and all that. I'm especially interested in finding ways to build abstractions that provide ergonomic APIs for consumers without giving up the hard-won performance gains. A fast routine that forces consumers to, say, allocate memory each time is a missed opportunity.
Concurrency and parallelism
As an industry we seem to be fascinatingly bad at building concurrent systems that are both fast and correct. I think the languages Rust and Pony are taking interesting approaches for their respective domains, but it's not just a matter of picking the right language.
Machine learning and bioinformatics
These have pretty fascinating applications in the real world, and are also in need of better software. They might seem like totally separate fields, but from a software perspective, they're not as different as you might think. They're both answering questions with significant computational effort on very large volumes of data, ideally across many machines, and increasingly with the use of hardware acceleration (GPUs, TPUs, FPGAs, ...). The software landscape that domain experts have to choose from in these fields is still young, and to me it looks like it could benefit from some tidy, fast abstractions. (Also, machine learning is not so uncommon inside bioinformatics.)
Security and crypto
Double checking that input validation is done correctly is great, but addressing entire classes of bugs is better (e.g. replacing seemingly never-ending bug fountains like OpenSSL with safer equivalents), so I'm excited about projects like MesaLock and ring. I wouldn't call myself a cryptographer, but I know enough to be concerned when I feel the need to reach for a cryptographic primitive.
Distributed systems
All the problems and opportunities of concurrent systems, but with more hierarchies of cache and looser coherency.
Type systems
We're still just scratching the surface of how compilers can help us make maintainable systems. Halide is a pretty interesting example of better human/compiler communication, and in a very different way, so are languages like Idris.
It's great for getting code running in a browser, but I'm even more optimistic about its utility as a sandboxing/plugin mechanism.
This page, for instance, does not track you, and is served over HTTPS so your ISP can't inject content into it. I'm glad to see increasing consumer awareness of the importance of privacy.
I'm nearly always working on something new. I move between digging deeper in domains I'm fairly comfortable with, like moving from scalar performance tuning to x86 SIMD, and picking something totally different, like WebAssembly, or bare metal programming for microcontrollers.
Other stuff
I don't only write software.

Open source

A few of my open source projects: For more, see the rest of my OSS on BitBucket and GitHub and scattered across various organizations I've been a part of.