24 January 2024

Homecoming: Experienced Professor in Computer Systems is back at DIKU


Franco-Danish Professor Philippe Bonnet is back at DIKU after 14 years at the IT University of Copenhagen. Before that, Philippe was at DIKU from 2001 to 2009. He returned to DIKU in October 2023 and became a part of the Programming Languages and Theory of Computation (PLTC) section, where he works on data-intensive computer systems.

Portrait of Philippe Bonnet

Professor Philippe Bonnet describes himself as an experimental computer scientist who cares deeply about reproducibility and building systems as a basis for experimental work. He elaborates:

– The systems I am working on include co-designed SSDs, computational storage, and storage systems supporting extreme scale science.

Even though Philippe has been researching systems in Denmark for a long time now, he has been living in several other countries before. Philippe was born in 1970 in southern France, where he also grew up. After obtaining his master’s degree in computer engineering at INSA Lyon, Philippe spent the technology-booming 90’s in both Munich, Grenoble, and upstate New York before ending up in Copenhagen in 2001.

In the first place, he had passed on the opportunity of a postdoc position at DIKU with Eric Jul, now professor emeritus, to go to Cornell University. A few years later, Eric visited Cornell, gave a memorable talk on Emerald, and asked Philippe if he would be interested in a faculty position at DIKU.

Philippe jumped on the opportunity, packed his bags, and left Ithaca, NY for Copenhagen. As Philippe puts it himself:

– I was very much ready to leave the US, so that was a very fortunate turn of events for me.

He taught his first course at DIKU on ‘Database Tuning’ that year.

A rapidly expanding department

When Philippe left for ITU in 2009, there were only three research sections, and DIKU offered only in-house educations in computer science on bachelor's and master’s levels. Also, the cross-disciplinary, collaborative studies in health informatics as well as communication and IT were only in their fledgling stages.

However, a lot has happened since then. At the time of Philippe’s return, DIKU can boast about their eight research sections as well as six bachelor’s educations, four master’s educations, as well as one part-time master’s in computer science.

Philippe left DIKU shortly after the Distlab group, which he was affiliated with, was closed due to budget cuts. When asked about what he hopes to accomplish in his second period at DIKU, he answers:

– Distlab was an inspiration for generations of DIKU students interested in computer system software. Many of those students have moved on to become renowned software engineers contributing to the cloud infrastructure. Most still work in Copenhagen. My hope is that DIKU becomes a world-renowned hub in the computer systems infrastructure ecosystem. First and foremost, my hope is that DIKU keeps on inspiring the next generations of students.

Reunited with old colleagues

Bringing back some of the influence that Distlab had back then is not the only motivation for returning to Universitetsparken.

Philippe also mentions a few people that inspired him to accept the position: Irina Shklovski and Thomas Hildebrandt, who were his colleagues at ITU for many years, as well as Jakob Grue Simonsen and Ken Friis Larsen, who were also at DIKU in Philippe’s first period.

Staying in Copenhagen was an obvious choice for him, as he expresses a huge fondness for the city. Thereby he will not need to move anywhere with his family and five hens that according to his own words produce delicious eggs.

Professor and Head of the PLTC section Martin Elsman is delighted to have Philippe Bonnet become part of the section:

– DIKU is proud to welcome an experimental computer scientist with more than 20 years of experience in fields such as database systems, wireless sensor networks, and cloud computing. Philippe will undoubtedly contribute largely to DIKU’s development. Both in terms of his own research and how his experience will influence others, says Martin.


Philippe Bonnet
Department of Computer Science
University of Copenhagen


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