Headshot of John Vilk
Headshot of John Vilk


John Vilk

University of Massachusetts Amherst


John Vilk is a fourth-year PhD student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, advised by Emery Berger. His research aims to make the web platform a sane place for ordinary developers.

Research Summary

Browsers restrict developers to writing programs in JavaScript, limit applications to a single monitor, and provide only basic debugging and performance profiling support. John’s research addresses all of these limitations.

John’s work on Doppio lets developers embed existing unmodified code written in conventional languages, like Java, into their web applications. Doppio provides all of the operating system services needed by these languages and their programs. Doppio has had both practical and academic impact. The Internet Archive uses Doppio to bring historical DOS applications to the browser, and the University of Illinois uses Doppio to teach children how to program in Java at CodeMoo.com. Doppio also won the Distinguished Artifact Award at PLDI 2014, and was selected as a SIGPLAN Research Highlight.

John’s recent work on SurroundWeb pushes the web forward as a privacy-preserving platform for augmented reality applications. SurroundWeb lets web pages declaratively specify where to display content relative to surfaces or objects in a physical room, then renders the content using projectors or head-mounted displays like Microsoft HoloLens. However, web pages cannot deduce the presence or location of objects in the room. SurroundWeb will appear this summer at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy.

John’s current research focuses on improving the state of web development by augmenting the browser with novel correctness and performance debugging tools. This research seeks to dramatically reduce the effort required to improve the performance and reliability of web applications. More information on John’s research can be found at his personal website.