Umut A. Acar
Associate Professor
Computer Science Department
Carnegie Mellon University

Office: GHC 9101
Executive assistant: Jessica Packer,, 412-268-2565, GHC 9006
Additional Contact Information





Students and Post-Docs

Diderot Project

I am the architect of the Diderot project and lead its development.  Diderot offers an online platform for improving the quality and accessibility of education. Diderot rests on two pillars---people and knowledge---and revolves around highly interactive, online books, tools for creating and publishing books, running and auto-grading code, and discussions. The key technologies behind Diderot include the following.
  • Tools for transforming traditional plain-text materials (currently in LaTeX and Markdown) to interactive, online books.
  • A networked environment that connects users, learners and teachers, in one online platform.
  • Fine-grain, concept-level, representation of knowledge that enables algorithms to aid in discovery and learning.
  • A code autograder that can put effectively any amount of compute power at the fingertips of the user.
  • Cloud-based implementation that seamlessly scales and trivially deploys at any institution without requiring any onsite IT services.
Diderot is rapidly evolving and is now being used by 1500 students at Carnegie Mellon on a day to day basis. The courses using Diderot range from small advanced courses to large introductory courses with hundreds of students.


  • January 2020: Happy to welcome CMU Qatar campus courses and 15751 to Diderot community.
    • 10715: Advanced Introduction to Machine Learning
    • 15122: Principles of Imperative Computation
    • 15122Q: Parallel and Sequential Algorithms (Qatar Campus)
    • 15210: Parallel and Sequential Algorithms
    • 15210Q: Parallel and Sequential Algorithms (Qatar Campus)
    • 15251: Great Theoretical Ideas in Computer Science
    • 15688: Practical Data Science (Online Edition)
    • 15751: TCS Toolkit
    • 15780: Graduate AI
  • August 2019: Happy to welcome many new courses to Diderot community. 
    • 10715: Advanced Introduction to Machine Learning
    • 15122: Principles of Imperative Computation
    • 15210: Parallel and Sequential Algorithms
    • 15251: Great Theoretical Ideas in Computer Science
    • 15388/688: Practical Data Science
    • 15455: Undergraduate Complexity Theory
    • 15819: Foundations of Quantitative Program Analysis
    • 21228: Discrete Mathematics
  • July 2019: Imperative Computation(15122) switches to Diderot for their Summer 2019 edition. 
  • March 2019: Diderot has been recognized by the Carnegie Mellon Teaching Innovation Award.
  • January 2019: Algorithms (15210), Great Ideas (15251), and Grad AI (15780) start using Diderot for their Spring 2019 edition.   


Diderot is currently not publicly available.  The GitHub repository for Diderot is available for feedback and other resources. 

15897: Parallelism and Concurrency (Fall 2019)

Class times: Mon-Wed 10:30-11:50
Place: Gates 4303
Diderot: Please see Diderot for the course schedule and course materials.

This course covers topics in parallelism and concurrency.  Specific topics include the following.
  • Models of parallelism.
  • Parallel algorithms for sequences
  • Parallel algorithms for trees
  • Parallel algorithms for graphs
  • Algorithms for thread scheduling, e.g., greedy scheduling, online scheduling, and work stealing

The lectures will aim at bridging Church's and Turing's different formulations of computation and attempt at developing a "unified theory" of the fundamental concepts in computing, parallelism, and concurrency.  The students will also do a project.  The project could be individual or team work and on a topic that will be agreed upon by the instructor or the student(s).