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John Lions Distinguished Lectures

27 June 2022
5.30pm – 9.00pm AEST
Leighton Hall, Scientia Building, UNSW Sydney
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Image of John Lions

In a world where technology plays an ever-increasing role in our future, discover how computer science can help address the challenges we face in government, society, and our everyday lives. 

Tune in to two thought-provoking talks by industry experts about leading-edge topics in computer science that will inspire and encourage innovation.

5.30pm | Session 1 with Professor Willy Zwaenepoel
Software for Fast Storage Hardware

Storage technologies are entering the market with performance vastly superior to conventional storage devices. This technology shift requires a complete rethinking of the software storage stack.

In this talk, Prof. Zwaenepoel will give two examples of his team's work with Optane-based solid-state (block) devices that illustrate the need for and the benefit of a wholesale redesign.

First, he will describe the Kvell key-value (KV) store. The key observation underlying Kvell is that conventional KV software on fast devices is bottlenecked by the CPU rather than by the device. Kvell therefore focuses on minimizing CPU intervention.

Second, he will describe the Kvell+ OLTP/OLAP system built on top of Kvell. The key underlying observation here is that these storage devices have become so fast that the conventional implementation of snapshot isolation – maintaining multiple versions – leads to intolerable space amplification. Kvell therefore processes new versions as they are created.

This talk describes joint work with Oana Balmau (McGill University), Karan Gupta (Nutanix) and Baptiste Lepers (University of Sydney).

6.45pm | Session 2 with Pia Andrews
Open Source: the Foundation for Open Government in the Internet Age

Many open source and maker communities demonstrate participatory governance everyday, with extendable architecture where anyone can contribute to shaping the world based on their values and skills. This kind of values-led, participatory and empowered approach to co-creation provides profound lessons for governments.

Governments everywhere have benefited from myriad open source technologies over the years, but are only just starting to benefit from open source principles, architecture, participatory culture and methods.

In this talk, Pia Andrews will discuss how open source supports more open government and more equitable societies for us all.

7.45pm | Networking reception


This lecture series has been established in honor of the life of John Lions, a previous Associate Professor at the School of Computer Science and Engineering. John was well-known for his impactful teachings and for his line-by-line commentary of the Unix V6 source code, also referred to as the ‘Lions Book’ which became the ‘The Most Famous Suppressed Manuscript in Computer History.

As a pioneer of the open-source movement, John Lions not only shaped the world of computer science, but also the lives of his students, colleagues and world leaders in the industry today. 





Leighton is located in the John Niland Scientia Building at UNSW Sydney's Kensington Campus (H19 on map). Please note, this event will be recorded and available for on demand viewing after the event. 


The health and safety of our patrons is our top priority, and this event will abide by the Public Health Order prevailing at the time. Please follow our conditions of entry, and check back here for updated information prior to the event.  

  • Do not attend the event if you feel unwell, have recently experienced any cold or flu-like symptoms or are awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

  • Face masks are encouraged.


Vehicles need to arrive via Botany Street, Gate 11 (F28 on map) and follow the road to Library Road towards the John Niland Scientia Building. Please note, this is a drop off point only. The closest accessible parking is available in the Botany Street Carpark (H24 on map). 

Assisted Listening
Leighton Hall has a hearing loop. 

Auslan & Captioning 
Auslan interpreting services and/or live captioning can be provided for selected talks upon request. 

Please specify your access requirements during registration, or to further discuss access requirements and book selected services, email


UNSW Sydney is easily accessible via public transport. Call the Transport Infoline on 131 500 or visit

Paid casual and visitor parking is offered via the CellOPark App and ‘pay by plate meters’. For more information head here

Headshot of Willy Zwaenepoel

Willy Zwaenepoel

Willy Zwaenepoel received his BS from Ghent University in 1979, and his MS and PhD from Stanford University, in 1980 and 1984, respectively. He is currently Dean of Engineering at the University of Sydney. Previously, he has been on the faculty at Rice University and Head of the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL. He has been involved with a number of startups including Nutanix (Nasdaq:NTNX). He was elected IEEE Fellow in 1998, ACM Fellow in 2000 and ATSE Fellow in 2021. He received a number of awards for his teaching and research, including the IEEE Kanai Award and the Eurosys Lifetime Achievement Award. His main interests are in operating systems and distributed systems.

Headshot of Pia Andrews

Pia Andrews

Pia Andrews is an open government, digital transformation and data geek who has been trying to make the world a better place for over 20 years. She usually works within the (public sector) machine to transform public services, policies and culture through greater transparency, democratic engagement, citizen-centric design, open data, emerging technologies and pragmatic true innovation in the public sector and beyond. She believes that tech culture has a huge role to play in achieving better policy planning, outcomes, public engagement and a better public service all round. She is also trying to do her part in establishing greater public benefit from publicly funded data, software and research. Pia was recognised in 2018 and 2019 as one of the global top 20 most Influential in Digital Government and was awarded as one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women in Australia for 2014. Pia has also studied martial arts since 1990, and brings the philosophies and practices of Gung Fu and Chan Buddhism into her work every day.