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

Affiliated with the Formal Methods & Verification Group in Computer Science at Iowa State University

Recipient of the 2017 University Faculty/Staff Academic Advising Award

Gen Ed Recertification

Info for CS faculty making Gen Ed recertification requests



Fall 2018

  • COMPSCI 320 Concepts of Programming Languages
  • COMPSCI 476 Software Engineering
  • COMPSCI 481 Web Server and Unix Administration

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.
  • 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)