A picture of me

Zachary J. Oster

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

McGraw 108, 800 W. Main St., Whitewater, WI 53190
Phone: (262) 472-5006
Email: osterz AT uww DOT edu

Recipient of the 2017 University Faculty/Staff Academic Advising Award



Spring 2019

  • COMPSCI 424 Operating Systems
  • COMPSCI 476 Software Engineering
  • COMPSCI 776 Advanced Software Engineering

Summer 2019

  • COMPSCI 778 Software Specification and Verification: May 28 to July 6

See what courses I have taught previously


Applying formal methods such as model checking and concepts from artificial intelligence, especially preference reasoning techniques, to address problems in requirements analysis for component-based and other compositional systems.

Download my CV or visit my DBLP page

Current work

  • Developing more efficient techniques for identifying conflicting preferences in a conditional importance network (CI-net). Collaborators: Samik Basu (Iowa State), Ganesh Ram Santhanam (Iowa State).
  • Visualizing software requirement preferences and conflicts as modeled in a conditional importance network (CI-net). Past collaborators: Josh Leinberger (UW-W student), Pablo Martinez (UW-W student). Previously supported in part by UW-Whitewater Strategic Initiative grant (Lopamudra Mukherjee, PI).

Recent publications

  • Efficient Satisfiability Verification for Conditional Importance Networks, 5th International Conference on Algorithmic Decision Theory (ADT 2017). To appear. (preprint version to be posted soon)
  • Scalable Modeling and Analysis of Qualitative Preferences: A Qualitative Approach using CI-Nets: paper with Ganesh Ram Santhanam and Samik Basu, RE:Next! track of RE 2015 (published version at IEEE Xplore, preprint version)
  • Reasoning with Qualitative Preferences to Develop Optimal Component-Based Systems: ACM Student Research Competition at ICSE 2013.
  • Model Checking of Qualitative Sensitivity Preferences to Minimize Credential Disclosure: paper with Ganesh Ram Santhanam, Samik Basu, and Vasant Honavar, FACS 2012

Read more about my research interests


Playing my clarinet, collecting coins, and more.

Find out what I like to do for fun


  • PhD Comics: A Web comic about life in graduate school. Funny and often very true.
  • XKCD: Another Web comic I like.
  • The RISKS Digest: Weekly (or more frequent) summary of computer-related risks to the public, mostly caused by designers and developers (and customers, too) who don't think hard enough about security and safety. Sometimes funny; sometimes rage-inducing. Important reading for those of us who want to see technology used responsibly.
  • Hacker News: Community-moderated news site with news and discussions about technology and anything "that good hackers would find interesting" (where "hacker" means "clever technical problem-solver", not "person who cracks into systems that they're not authorized to access"). The comments are usually as good as, or better than, the posted links. A daily read for me.
  • rachelbythebay : Writing: Stories from an experienced system administrator who has worked in Silicon Valley for many years. Entertaining and informative, especially if you're interested in DevOps, just Ops, or IT work in general. (Note: not much about software development here.)
  • The Jargon Lexicon: An extensive dictionary of hacker slang. Useful for understanding tech people's jokes, and as a window into the history of the field.
  • College radio stations I like: KURE (Iowa State), WSUW "The Edge" (UW-Whitewater), WSUM "The Snake on the Lake" (UW-Madison)