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Personal Facts

Tom Van Cutsem

Born: 1982, Leuven, Belgium.

Nationality: Belgian

Language proficiency: Dutch (Mother Tongue), English (Fluent)

E-mail: tvcutsem at gmail dot com

Professional Experience

  • Nov 2016 - present: Department head at Nokia Bell Labs.
  • Feb 2014 - Nov 2015: Senior researcher at Nokia Bell Labs.
  • Oct 2012 - Sept. 2014: Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels, VUB).
  • Feb 2010 - Oct 2012: Part-time Professor (10% ZAP-BOF) at the University of Brussels (VUB).
  • Nov 2009 - Apr 2010: Visiting Faculty at Google, Inc. in Google’s HQ in Mountain View, CA, USA. Work on various proposals for the next edition of the ECMAScript (aka Javascript) standard.
  • 2008 - 2014:FWO Post-doctoral researcher at the Software Languages Lab, University of Brussels. Area of expertise: programming language theory (especially concurrent, parallel and distributed languages and systems).
  • 2004 - 2008:FWO Research assistant at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels. Obtaining a PhD in computer science. Teaching assistant for Master-level courses such as Computer Graphics and Declarative Programming.

For a list of my academic publications and talks have a look at my publications page.

Higher Education

  • 2004-2008: PhD in Computer Science, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels (Grade: Summa Cum Laude) at the Programming Technology Laboratory under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Wolfgang De Meuter and Prof. Dr. Theo D’Hondt. My research was funded by means of a grant from the Fund for Scientific Research, Flanders (FWO) which is Belgium’s flemish science foundation. It is the most prestigious research funding organisation of the country, funding researchers to perform fundamental research in any scientific discipline.
  • 2000-2004: Master of Science in Computer Science, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
    • 1st year / 1ste kandidatuur (july 2001): Magna Cum Laude / Grote Onderscheiding
    • 2nd year / 2de kandidatuur (july 2002): Summa Cum Laude / Grootste Onderscheiding
    • 3rd year / 1ste licentie (july 2003): Summa Cum Laude / Grootste Onderscheiding
    • 4th year / 2de licentie (july 2004): Summa Cum Laude / Grootste Onderscheiding
    • Honors: Received the ‘Science Award’ of the VUB Faculty of Sciences in July 2004. Awarded yearly by the faculty of sciences to the student with the best merits seen across the entire career of study.


  • Built a wide-area distributed stream processing platform for IoT called World-wide Streams (joint work with multiple colleagues from Nokia Bell Labs).
  • Active contributor to the JavaScript standard. Designed the ECMAScript 2015 Proxy and Reflect reflection APIs (joint work with Mark S. Miller from Google).
  • Together with Stijn Mostinckx at the University of Brussels, designed and implemented the distributed, open-source AmbientTalk programming language.
  • Organized the 2013 Flemish Programming Contest, a regional ACM-style programming contest, attracting 500 participants.
  • Author of reflect.js, a Javascript reflection library making the ECMAScript 6 reflection API available on current platforms.
  • Together with Dries Harnie, Joeri De Koster and Theo D’Hondt, designed SchemeKen, a distributed, resilient dialect of Scheme.
  • Author of traits.js, a minimal trait composition library for Javascript.
  • Independently developed a 26-hour lecture series at university Master-level on multicore programming and an introductory university Bachelor-level course on distributed systems.
  • Author of stm-in-clojure, a meta-circular implementation of software-transactional memory in Clojure. I use this library for teaching STM in my university course on multicore programming.
  • As a CS student, worked on several programming projects including a compiler for a C-like language for the JVM written in C++, a mobile agent travel reservation system in Java, a 3D rendering engine based on Binary Space Partitions, a text-based RPG, and a spreadsheet in PLT Scheme (now PLT Racket).

Soft Skills

Team leadership, delivering technical pitches, coaching people, coordinating a development team (in an architect role). Excellent writing skills.

Technical Skills and Competences

Iron-strong software design and software engineering skills. Deep understanding of programming languages, compilers, virtual machines. Deep understanding of distributed systems. Hands-on experience with node.js, Cloud/AWS, Docker, RabbitMQ. Ask me about distributed systems concepts such as consistency, availability and partition-tolerance.

Good understanding of Machine learning and its possibilities (classification/regression, supervised/unsupervised) and pitfalls (bias, overfitting). Ask me about classification trees, naive bayes, frequent itemsets, deep neural nets, word embeddings, distributed representations. I’ve wrangled data and trained models with Python.

I consider myself proficient (i.e. have written programs over 10K SLoC) in Java and JavaScript (node.js) but have used a wide variety of different languages and systems, including C/C++, Prolog, Python, Erlang, Clojure and Smalltalk. I pick up new languages easily.

Expert in object-oriented software development, design patterns, TDD/BDD. Next to OO, also strong affinity with functional, relational and logic programming paradigms.

Expert in concurrent and parallel systems. Ask me about race conditions, deadlocks, fork/join parallellism, SIMD/MIMD, threadpools and CAS.

Used a variety of VCSes (git, mercurial, svn, cvs) and CMSes (drupal, wordpress, jekyll).


  • Dr. Mark Miller, research scientist at Google, my host and colleague while working at Google
  • Dr. Terence P. Kelly, senior researcher at HP Labs, collaborator.
  • Prof. Dr. Wolfgang De Meuter, Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, my promotor
  • Prof. Dr. Theo D’Hondt, Professor at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, my promotor
  • Dr. Jessie Dedecker, former colleague