Nikos Vasilakis

Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Nikos in Germany for EdgeSys18

Long-term, I am interested in lowering system complexity—the primary barrier to the scale of software systems humans can build and operate. For example, what does it take to make developing distributed systems as easy and flexible as ordinary scripting?

I am currently a research scientist at MIT CSAIL. I work on distributed systems, programming languages, and systems security---with recent work focusing on general-purpose distributed environments, application compartmentalization, sandboxing of third-party libraries, and distributed storage systems. I received a Ph.D. in Computer and Information Sciences from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.Sc./M.Eng. in Computer Engineering and Informatics from the University of Patras, Greece.

Office: MIT CSAIL, 32-G740
GitHub: @nvasilakis
Twitter: @nikosvasilakis

Recent Pre-prints

Automatic Synthesis of Parallel Unix Commands and Pipelines with KumQuat

Jiasi Shen, Martin Rinard, Nikos Vasilakis
pdf | code | arxiv | bibtex

Recent Publications

Supply-Chain Vulnerability Elimination via Active Learning and Regeneration

Nikos Vasilakis, Achilles Benetopoulos, Shivam Handa, Alizee Schoen, Jiasi Shen, Martin Rinard
ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (ACM CCS21)
pdf | code | bibtex

Preventing Dynamic Library Compromise on Node.js via RWX-Based Privilege Reduction

Nikos Vasilakis, Cristian-Alexandru Staicu, Grigoris Ntousakis, Konstantinos Kallas, Ben Karel, André DeHon, Michael Pradel
ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (ACM CCS21)
pdf | code | arxiv | bibtex

Efficient Module-Level Dynamic Analysis for Dynamic Languages with Module Recontextualization

Nikos Vasilakis, Grigoris Ntousakis, Veit Heller, Martin Rinard
ACM Joint European Software Engineering Conference & Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering (ESEC/FSE 2021)
Received Distinguished Paper Award
pdf | code | bibtex

An Order-aware Dataflow Model for Parallel Unix Pipelines

Shivam Handa*, Konstantinos Kallas*, Nikos Vasilakis*, Martin Rinard
26th ACM SIGPLAN International Conference on Functional Programming (ICFP21)
pdf | code | arxiv | bibtex

Unix Shell Programming: The Next 50 Years

Michael Greenberg*, Konstantinos Kallas*, Nikos Vasilakis*
18th Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (HotOS XVIII)
Received Best Presentation Award
pdf | code | bibtex

The Future of the Shell: UNIX and Beyond

Michael Greenberg*, Konstantinos Kallas*, Nikos Vasilakis*
18th Workshop on Hot Topics in Operating Systems (HotOS XVIII)
pdf | bibtex

PaSh: Light-touch Data-Parallel Shell Processing

Nikos Vasilakis*, Konstantinos Kallas*, Konstantinos Mamouras, Achilles Benetopoulos, Lazar Cvetković
ACM European Conference on Computer Systems (EuroSys'21)
Received Best Paper Award
pdf | code | arxiv | bibtex

Active Learning for Software Engineering

José P. Cambronero, Thurston HY Dang, Nikos Vasilakis, Jiasi Shen, Jerry Wu, Martin Rinard
ACM Symposium on New Ideas, New Paradigms, and Reflections on Programming and Software (Onward! 2019)
pdf | bibtex

TMC: Pay-as-you-Go Distributed Communication

Henri Maxime Demoulin, Nikos Vasilakis, John Sonchack, Isaac Pedisich,
Vincent Liu, Boon Thau Loo, Linh Thi Xuan Phan, Jonathan M. Smith, Irene Zhang
3rd Asia-Pacific Workshop on Networking (APNet 2019)
pdf | bibtex

Detecting Application-layer Denial-of-Service Attacks with FineLame

Henri Maxime Demoulin, Isaac Pedisich, Nikos Vasilakis, Vincent Liu, Boon Thau Loo, Linh Thi Xuan Phan
USENIX Annual Technical Conference (ATC19)
pdf | bibtex

Ignis: Scaling Distribution-Oblivious Systems with Light-Touch Distribution

Nikos Vasilakis, Ben Karel, Yash Palkhiwala, John Sonchack, André DeHon, Jonathan M. Smith
ACM SIGPLAN conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI19)
pdf | bibtex | video abstract

The Web as a Distributed Computing Platform

Nikos Vasilakis, Pranjal Goel, Henri Maxime Demoulin, Jonathan M. Smith
1st ACM Workshop on Edge Systems, Analytics and Networking (EdgeSys18)
Received Best Paper Award
pdf | bibtex

BreakApp: Automated, Flexible Application Compartmentalization

Nikos Vasilakis, Ben Karel, Nick Roessler, Nathan Dautenhahn, André DeHon, and Jonathan M. Smith
IEEE Networked and Distributed Systems Security Symposium (NDSS18)
html | pdf | bibtex | talk

(Full list of publications and bibtex entries.)


I am deeply interested in all forms of creative expression, and particularly any visual, auditory, and interactive art. My main contribution in this space was as a founding member of a music duo, Ailo. We released {downtempo, chill-out, ambient, downbeat, lounge} music under several record labels mostly across Europe — most notably Germany, Italy, the UK, Israel, the Netherlands, and Hungary. More than a decade later, you can still find it on Breatport, Spotify, iTunes,, Amazon, Google Music, and your favorite vinyl shop. It turns out, releasing music under record labels is surprisingly similar to peer-reviewed publishing in academia.

Other interests include art film, sports, photography, history, travelling, teaching, and natural languages.