Urs Hölzle joined Google from the University of California, Santa Barbara where he was an associate professor of computer science. He received a master's degree in computer science from ETH Zurich in 1988 and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship that same year. In 1994, he earned a Ph.D. from Stanford University, where his research focused on programming languages and their efficient implementation.
As one of the pioneers of dynamic compilation, also known as "just-in-time compilation," Hölzle invented fundamental techniques used in most of today's leading Java compilers. Before joining Google, Hölzle was a co-founder of Animorphic Systems, which developed compilers for Smalltalk and Java. After Sun Microsystems acquired Animorphic Systems in 1997, Hölzle helped build Javasoft's high-performance Hotspot Java compiler.
In 1996, Hölzle received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for his work on high-performance implementations of object-oriented languages. Hölzle was also a leading contributor to DARPA's National Compiler Infrastructure project. He has served on program committees for major conferences in the field of programming language implementation, and is the author of numerous scientific papers and U.S. patents.
Hölzle was named Google Fellow after serving as the company's first vice president of Engineering. In that role he led development of the company's operational infrastructure and was renowned for both his red socks and his free-range Leonberger, Yoshka (Google's top dog).