I am a PhD student of computer science at The Australian National University.

I received my bachelor’s degree from The Australian National University, where I was advised by Steve Blackburn and Mike Bond (OSU).



My research is around building efficient and productive abstractions for computer software. I believe that these abstractions will lead to not only more efficient software, but also more reliable software.

Garbage Collection

My main focus is on the implementation of programming languages, especially the memory management for managed languages (also known as garbage collection). I’m particularly interested in investigating novel GC algorithms that make use of emerging hardware technologies.

Parallel Programming

I’m also interested in making parallel programming productive and scalable in terms of performance on modern hardware. I work on using program synthesis to generate efficient implementations of parallel programming primitives. I also look at how the design and implementation of programming languages affect the programmability and efficiency of parallel programs.

Reliable Software

My other interests are in making computer systems more reliable. This includes cyber security, in particular software security, and formal methods.

Selected Publications

My publications are listed on dblp, Google Scholar, and ACM DL. Preprints can be found on arXiv. You can also see my CV for the full list of publications.

Understanding and Utilizing Hardware Transactional Memory Capacity. Zixian Cai, Stephen M. Blackburn, Michael D. Bond. International Symposium on Memory Management (ISMM), 2021. pdf doi code video

Synthesizing Optimal Collective Algorithms. Zixian Cai, Zhengyang Liu, Saeed Maleki, Madan Musuvathi, Todd Mytkowicz, Jacob Nelson, Olli Saarikivi. Principles and Practice of Parallel Programming (PPoPP), 2021. Best Paper Award. pdf doi code video