Nik photo 

Nik Sultana, PhD

Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Illinois Institute of Technology

Contact: nsultana1 at(symbol) iit dot edu

I'm interested in building better (performance + flexibility + security) distributed systems, and I develop techniques for this using programming theory, formal logic, and systems engineering.

Bio: Before joining Illinois Tech I was a postdoc at the UPenn Distributed Systems Lab and at the Cambridge Systems Research Group where I worked on various research projects on computer systems. Up to my PhD I did theoretical research. For my PhD I developed a compiler-based approach to proof translation, and before that I worked on constructive proof search and the verification of refactorings using interactive theorem-proving. I did my undergrad at the University of Malta.

CFP: Innovating the Network for Data-Intensive Science (INDIS)

The INDIS workshop is part of SC24 (Supercomputing), which takes place in Atlanta (GA) this year. The workshop spans an exciting array of topics -- see the full Call for Papers.

Research Opportunities

If you're an Illinois Tech student, check out my page on BS/MS student projects related to my research.
Regardless of whether you're currently an Illinois Tech student, you can find out more about funded PhD opportunities related to my research. You can find out more about my research by browsing this homepage.


Feel free to reach out to me about the following resources which I created and curate:


Research interests

Distributed systems, Programmable networking, Security (software and network), Automated reasoning, Formal methods.

Acknowledgement for research funding/support: NSF, DARPA, Google, RES-MATCH, URA, XUP.
I'm also very grateful to the FABRIC and Chameleon testbeds for enabling some of my group's work.



At Illinois Tech I'm currently working with:
  • (Undergrad) Hyunsuk Bang
  • (MS) Alberto Perez Bogantes
  • (Undergrad) Sean Cummings
  • (MS) Pilar Fernandez Gayol
  • (MS) Vaneshi Ramdhony
  • (RSE) Nishanth Shyamkumar
  • (MS) Laura Serrano Velazquez
  • (MS) Prajwal Somendyapanahalli Venkateshmurthy
  • (PhD) Alexander Wolosewicz

See my page on funded opportunities for a PhD in Computer Science related to my research.

If you're already at Illinois Tech, I'm happy to discuss undergrad (CS49{1,7}) and MS (CS59{1,7}) projects. Also see my current list of student projects.

Previously at Illinois Tech I worked with Neil Dhote, Xue Zhang, Rigden Atsatsang, Mohamad Dib Fares, Luis Casarrubios Elez, Cyprien Gueyraud, Simrat Kaur, Irina Klein, Shivam Patel, H. E. Greenblatt, Mohammad Firas Sada, Aditi Kumar, Marelle León, and Willow Carlson-Huber.

Earlier, at the University of Pennsylvania I worked with the following Research Assistants: Achala Rao, Zihao Jin (visiting from Tsinghua University), Anirudh Chelluri, Nishanth Prabhu, Shilpi Bose, Henry Zhu, Ke Zhong (visiting from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, now a PhD student at Penn), Zhaoyang Han, Ruijie Mao, Digvijaysinh Chauhan, Nishanth Shyamkumar, Shivani Burad, Zhilei Zheng, Garvit Khandelwal, Ritvik Sadana, Rakesh Nagda, Heena Nagda (from Georgia Tech), Stephen Carrasquillo, Junyong Zhao, Saket, Andrew Zhao, and Aishwarya Wesanekar.

And before that at the University of Cambridge I supervised Jonny Shipton's 2016 UROP (research internship) and the "Part II" (undergrad dissertation) projects of Thomas Le Feuvre, Radu Voroneanu (co-supervised with Lucas Dixon), Daniel Spencer (co-supervised with Richard Mortier), and Rupert Horlick (co-supervised with Richard Mortier).

Projects & System Releases

Pitchfork (2022, on GitLab)
Decomposition of C programs for privilege separation.

Flightplan (2020, on GitHub)
Decomposition & heterogeneous allocation of P4 programs to benefit SDN.

Emu (2017, on GitHub)
New standard library for creating high-performance network functions using HLS.

Flowdar (2019, on GitLab)
Understanding the flow of control, data, and resource-usage of software.

Pax (2016, on GitHub) and projects that build on top of it: TCPuny and Recap.
Abstractions for packet-processors written in high-level & managed languages.

DoSarray (2018, on GitHub)
Carrying out experiments involving Denial-of-Service (DoS) attacks and mitigations.

Motto (2016, on GitHub)
Compiler and reference runtime for the Flick system for application-level services.

Smaller systems:
  • Apache httpd Worker Union MPM (2019, GitLab)
  • TYM Datalog (2019, GitHub)
  • Caper (2019, GitLab)

Most of my work is released as open source. For other projects see my GitHub and GitLab.


These are indexed at DBLP and Google Scholar.

Recent work:

Videos (Demos/Talks)

KNIT8/NRP5 keynote
Keynote at KNIT8/NRP5 joint session
(March 2024)
Flightplan video
PERA Slides (talk @ HotSoS'23)
FDP video
Pitchfork Slides (talk @ HotSoS'23)
HotNets'22 presentation
PERA Paper (talk @ HotNets'22)
LATTE'21 presentation
Position paper (talk @ LATTE'21)
Flightplan video
Flightplan (talk @ NSDI'21)
FDP video

Wharf (talk @ NetCompute'18)

Flightplan (talk @ ONF'18)

Emu (talk @ BCS AIPG seminar, 2017)