Senior Staff Researcher

Palo Alto, CA, US

I work on algorithms and data structures for storage.


Rob Johnson is a Senior Staff Researcher in the VMWare Research group. He does theoretical work with an impact on the real world. He is developing VeriBetrFS, a verified high-performance file system based on his earlier work on BetrFS, a file system that uses recent advances in data structures to improve performance on many operations by over an order of magnitude. He created SplinterDB, a high-performance key-value store. He invented the quotient filter, a high-performance alternative to the Bloom filter for Big Data applications. He created Squeakr, deBGR, and Mantis, a collection of tools for performing analyses on huge genomic data sets. He founded cache-adaptive analysis, a theoretical framework for designing and analyzing algorithms that dynamically share memory with other processes. He broke the High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) crypto-system used in almost all DVD players and TVs. He wrote CQual, a static analysis tool that has found dozens of bugs in the Linux kernel and has been used to audit the entire Debian Linux distribution for format-string bugs.

Before joining VMWare, he was a Research Assistant Professor at Stony Brook University. He completed his PhD at UC Berkeley in 2006.


Rob is actively engaged with the academic community. He has served on numerous program committees:

  • USENIX Conference File and Storage Technologies (USENIX FAST), 2021, 2019.
  • IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy, 2018, 2017, 2010.
  • USENIX Security Conference, 2015, 2011.
  • ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (ACM CCS), 2014, 2013, 2009, 2008.
  • Network and Distributed System Security Symposium (NDSS), 2012.
  • WWW, 2016.
  • ACM International Systems and Storage Conference (SYSTOR), 2021.
  • SIAM-ACM Symposium on Algorithmic Principles of Computer Systems (APoCS), 2021.
  • SIAM Conference on Applied and Computational Discrete Algorithms (ACDA), 2021.
  • European Symposium on Algorithms (ESA), Algorithm Engineering and Experiments Track, 2019.
  • Symposium on Simplicity in Algorithms (SOSA), 2020.
  • Latin American Theoretical Informatics Symposium (LATIN), 2017.
  • Financial Cryptography and Data Security Workshop, 2010.
  • IEEE Web 2.0 Privacy and Security Workshop, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2008.
  • Conference on Detection of Intrusions and Malware & Vulnerability Assessment (DIMVA), 2014.
  • IEEE Conference on Big Data, 2013.
  • IEEE Working Conference on Source Code Analysis and Manipulation (IEEE SCAM), 2013.
  • Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust, 2013.
  • Conference on Cryptology and Network Security (CANS), 2016.

He also organized the 2019 Dagstuhl seminar, Theoretical Foundations of Storage Systems.