Thursday, June 5, 2014

New Professors in SCS: Bill Harris and Taesoo Kim

I'm excited to announce our two new assistant professors starting in the School of Computer Science in the fall, Bill Harris and Taesoo Kim.

Bill is completing his PhD under Somesh Jha and Thomas Reps at the University of Wisconsin. Bill studies program synthesis, analysis and verification. He has developed tools that generate programs to help operating systems meet specified security requirements even if the underlying components may not be trusted. Bill also had some exciting work manipulating tabular data by example which appeared as a CACM Research Highlight and playing a role in the new Flash Fill feature in Excel 2013.

Taesoo just graduated from MIT working under Nickolai Zeldovich and Frans Kaashoek specializing in systems security. His thesis work focused on detecting and recovering from attacks on computer systems. Taesoo developed tools that would detect intrusion and discover which parts of the operating system could have been affected, allowing a systems administrator to recover from an attack without excessive manual effort.

We're very excited to have Bill and Taesoo as part of the School of Computer Science family.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Five SCS Faculty Promoted to Associate and Full Professors

Chris Peikert has been promoted to associate professor with tenure. Chris works on cryptography, particularly in schemes based on the hardness of lattice problems. Chris received an NSF CAREER award and a Sloan Fellowship and sits on the editorial board of Theory of Computing.
Patrick Traynor has been promoted to associate professor with tenure. Patrick is an expert in mobile security. He has received a NSF CAREER and Sloan Fellowship and is PC co-chair of the 2014 ACM Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks.
Constantine Dovrolis was promoted to full professor. Constantine works on network inference, Internet evolution and network science. Constantine has received an NSF CAREER award and has chaired or co-chaired the program committees for the Workshop for Internet Topology and Economics, SIGCOMM coNEXT, ACM/USENIX Internet Measurement Conference and the CAIDA Bandwidth Estimation Workshop.
Nick Feamster was promoted to full professor. Nick works on network architecture, performance, protocol design, operations and security. Nick has received many awards including an NSF PECASE, Sloan Fellowship and in 2010 named a Technology Review Top Innovator under 35. He has served on many program committees including co-chairing USENIX Network System Design and Implementation.
Alex Orso was promoted to full professor. Alex works in software engineering, particularly on software testing and analysis. He has been program chair or co-chair of several major software engineering conferences including ACM-SIGSOFT International Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, IEEE International Conference on Software Testing, Veriļ¬cation and Validation and ACM-SIGSOFT International Symposium on Software Testing and Analysis.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Saamer Akhshabi

We lost one of our PhD students, Saamer Akhshabi passed away early Thursday morning, a very sad time for the School of Computer Science.

I'd like to remember Saamer for his research. He is probably best known for the SIGCOMM paper he wrote with this advisor, Constantine Dovrolis, The evolution of layered protocol stacks leads to an hourglass-shaped architecture. One can view the Internet communication on several layers from the applications to the physical. There seem to be very few protocols at the middle (transport/network) layers. Saamer and Constantine create a model that implies such an "hourglass shape" is not just due to the particular develop of the current Internet but inherent to any way such a network might have developed. This work is quite thought-provoking and while not everyone agrees with the model or the conclusions, this paper has had quite an influence in the debate as to whether a "clean-slate" network would actually avoid many of the issues we have in the current Internet.

More recently, Saamer was working with Georgia Tech biology professor Soonjin Yi to see if similar hourglass designs are inherent in biological networks as well. Saamer also worked on adaptive video streaming.

In Saamer we lost both a great researcher and a valued member of the SCS community. He will always be in our minds and our hearts.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Multiple Sloans for SCS!

Not one but two faculty members from the School of Computer Science, Nina Balcan and Patrick Traynor, just got named Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellows. Nayantara Bhatnagar of the University of Delaware, a 2007 PhD student of SCS Professors Dana Randall and Eric Vigoda, was also tapped.

Nina's research focuses on theoretical machine learning. Machine learning as a discipline has had an incredibly dramatic effect on computing over the past two decades in areas such as facial identification, voice recognition, spam detection, language translation, recommender systems and self-driving cars with often the same basic algorithmic techniques used for these very different applications. Nina’s research gets at the cores of these algorithms, giving a theoretical basis and justification for many of the tools used in practice. Nina not only has deep technical depth, but also the unique ability and vision to set foundations for her field. In her short career so far, she has provided new conceptual frameworks and algorithms for paradigms of highest activity and importance in both theoretical and practical machine learning today, that have been crucial to the progress of these areas --- this includes her work in semi-supervised learning, interactive learning, similarity based learning, and distributed learning. She also developed truly insightful and novel connections between machine learning and other areas including algorithmic game theory, discrete optimization, and analysis of the algorithms beyond the worst case. Additionally, her work resolved long-standing open questions within classic learning models and also addressed key questions in algorithmic game theory.

Patrick is a leading research in mobile security. As cellular networks converge with other IP based networks, they become targets of attacks that are common in the Internet world. Such networks enable a significant portion of the world’s population to communicate and connect to the Internet. The mobility and always connected nature of phones and their increasing capabilities are enabling new mobile health and ecommerce applications. Finally, as a closed system in the past, telephony was viewed as a trusted service and many applications rely on such trustworthiness. As the sophistication and reach of cyber security threats continues to grow, it is important that we understand the vulnerabilities in cellular and mobile networks and proactively address these threats that could become serious sources of harm in the future. This is exactly the focus of Dr. Traynor’s research program. He did pioneering work in understanding the serious nature of the security vulnerabilities that exist in such networks. He also explored scalability of such systems under severe conditions such as in the event of an emergency.

Nina and Patrick join previous SCS Sloan Fellows Dana Randall, Nick Feamster, Chris Peikert and Santosh Vempala.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Transporting the Future

I started 2014 with a trip to Savannah with the family, my first exploration of Georgia outside the Atlanta region. Savannah has a rich history and each of its many squares tells a story. But the large container ships going down the Savannah River on their way to the largest port in the Southeast tells a more modern story. The shipping container may very well have been the most important invention of the 20th century (I hope they don't take away my CS membership card for saying that). The state is working on expanding the depth of the port which will make the state of Georgia and even more important transportation hub for the country.

Georgia did get a black eye in transportation this week due to an unexpected snowstorm Tuesday afternoon. Some of our staff did not get home until Wednesday and Georgia Tech remained closed until Friday. How do you get millions of people home safely and relatively quickly when a storm hits?

Transportation is a process, not unlike computation. Whether it be containers in a port, or cars in a snowstorm we have congestion, routing issues, security, optimization, and lots of problems to debug. Computer science or just computational thinking can help us reason about transportation issues and so much more. We just need to find the right ways to apply them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Looking Forward and Back

I haven't seen so much excitement for computer science as a discipline since the 90's. And while I know the folly of saying this time is different, it doesn't seem like a bubble because one can see so much we still have to deal with. The increase in data (call it big data/data analytics/data science) and the tensions between learning and privacy not just for individuals and corporations but for governments as well including our own. The increase in automation. We will have automated delivery, whether they be by drones or self-driving trucks. As the Internet continues to invade our everyday appliances, we gain convenience but also privacy and security concerns. As our chips evolve we'll need new programming paradigms that transcends traditional abstraction boundaries. And people want to control it all from their pocket and soon from their watches and glasses.

Computer science must continually evolve to meet these challenges. At Georgia Tech we will continue to lay the groundwork in research and education to produce the ideas and people to drive this future.

A look back at 2013 in the Georgia Tech School of Computer Science
  • SCS welcomes new faculty member Hadi Esmaeilzadeh and congratulates Hyesoon Kim on her promotion to associate professor. 
  • The College of Computing announced our on-line Masters program OMS CS with most of the first set of courses taught by faculty in the School of Computer Science. We have about 400 students in the first cohort with the first set of courses recorded and ready to go. 
  • OMS made it into a speech of Obama who calls Georgia Tech "a national leader in computer science".
  • SCS Professor Kishore Ramachandran and several other members of the SCS community are named IEEE Fellows.
  • Ellen Zegura, already an IEEE Fellow, gets named to the new class of ACM Fellows.
  • Mayur Naik receives an NSF Career Award.
  • We sadly said goodbye to Mary Jean Harrold. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

IEEE Fellows

The 2014 Class of IEEE Fellows has several members connected to the School of Computer Science, most notably Professor Kishore Ramachandran who received the award "for contributions to programming idioms for parallel and distributed systems and design of
scalable shared memory systems." Kishore joins previous fellows from the SCS faculty: Ellen Zegura, Mostafa Ammar, Tom Conte and the recently departed Mary Jean Harrold.

ECE Professors Raghupathy Sivakumar and Sudhakar Yalamanchili, both of whom hold adjunct positions in SCS, also were named fellows.

Finally Kevin Almeroth, a UCSB professor who received his PhD at Georgia Tech under the supervision of Mostafa, got the nod.

Congrats also to the other new IEEE fellow from Georgia Tech, School of Interactive Computing Associate Chair John Stasko.