Category Archives: Computer Science

Laura Monroe to Speak About High-performance Computing, Tues. Sept. 24

Dr. Laura Monroe

The Department of Mathematical Sciences and the College of Computing will present a lecture on high-performance computing by Dr. Laura Monroe from the Ultrascale Systems Research Center (USRC) at Los Alamos National Laboratory on Tuesday, September 24, from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., in Fisher Hall, Room 133. The lecture is titled “The Mathematical Analysis of Faults and the Resilience of Applications.” Discussion will follow the lecture, and pizza and refreshments will be served.

Abstract: As the post-Moore’s-Law era advances, faults are expected to increase in number and in complexity on emerging novel devices. This will happen on exascale and post-exascale architectures due to smaller feature sizes, and also on new devices with unusual fault models. Attention to error-correction and resilience will thus be needed in order to use such devices effectively. Known mathematical error-correction methods may not suffice under these conditions, and an ad hoc approach will not cover the cases likely to emerge, so mathematical approaches will be essential. We will discuss the mathematical underpinnings behind such approaches, illustrate with examples, and emphasize the interdisciplinary approaches that combine experimentation, simulation, mathematical theory and applications that will be needed for success.

Dr. Monroe has spent most of her career focused on unconventional approaches to difficult computing problems, specifically researching new technologies to enable better performance as processor-manufacturing techniques reach the limits of the atomic scale, also known as the end of Moore’s Law. Dr. Monroe received her PhD in the theory of error-correcting codes, working with Dr.Vera Pless. She worked at NASA Glenn, then joined Los Alamos National Laboratory in 2000. She has contributed on the design teams on the LANL Cielo and Trinity supercomputers, and originated and leads the Laboratory’s inexact computing project that is meant to address Moore’s Law challenges in a unique way. She also provides mathematical and theoretical support to LANL’s HPC Resilience project.

Download the event flyer


Tim Havens Quoted in The Enterprise Project Blog

Timothy Havens

Timothy Havens (CC/ICC), the William and Gloria Jackson Associate Professor of Computer Systems and director of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC), was quoted extensively in the article “How to make a career switch into AI: 8 tips,” which was published September 5, 2019, on The Enterprisers Project blog.

https://enterprisersproject.com/article/2019/9/ai-career-path-how-make-switch


Bo Chen Receives $250K NSF Award for Mobile PDE Systems Research

Bo Chen, CS

Bo Chen, assistant professor of computer science and member of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems Center for  Cybersecurity, is the principal investigator on a project that has received a $249,918 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is entitled, “SaTC: CORE: Small: Collaborative: Hardware-Assisted Plausibly Deniable System for Mobile Devices.” This is a potential three-year project.

Abstract: Mobile computing devices typically use encryption to protect sensitive information. However, traditional encryption systems used in mobile devices cannot defend against an active attacker who can force the mobile device owner to disclose the key used for decrypting the sensitive information. This is particularly of concern to dissident users who are targets of nation states. An example of this would be a human rights worker collecting evidence of untoward activities in a region of oppression or conflict and storing the same in an encrypted form on the mobile device, and then being coerced to disclose the decryption key by an official. Plausibly Deniable Encryption (PDE) has been proposed to defend against such adversaries who can coerce users into revealing the encrypted sensitive content. However, existing techniques suffer from several problems when used in flash-memory-based mobile devices, such as weak deniability because of the way read/write/erase operations are handled at the operating systems level and at the flash translation layer, various types of side channel attacks, and computation and power limitations of mobile devices. This project investigates a unique opportunity to develop an efficient (low-overhead) and effective (high-deniability) hardware-assisted PDE scheme on mainstream mobile devices that is robust against a multi snapshot adversary. The project includes significant curriculum development activities and outreach activities to K-12 students.

This project fundamentally advances the mobile PDE systems by leveraging existing hardware features such as flash translation layer (FTL) firmware and TrustZone to achieve a high deniability with a low overhead. Specifically, this project develops a PDE system with capabilities to: 1) defend against snapshot attacks using raw flash memory on mobile devices; and 2) eliminate side-channel attacks that compromise deniability; 3) be scalable to deploy on mainstream mobile devices; and 4) efficiently provide usable functions like fast mode switching. This project also develops novel teaching material on PDE and cybersecurity for K-12 students and the Regional Cybersecurity Education Collaboration (RCEC), a new educational partnership on cybersecurity in Michigan.

Publications related to this research:

[DSN ’18] Bing Chang, Fengwei Zhang, Bo Chen, Yingjiu Li, Wen Tao Zhu, Yangguang Tian, Zhan Wang, and Albert Ching. MobiCeal: Towards Secure and Practical Plausibly Deniable Encryption on Mobile Devices. The 48th IEEE/IFIP International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN ’18), June 2018 (Acceptance rate: 28%)
[Cybersecurity ’18] Qionglu Zhang, Shijie Jia, Bing Chang, Bo Chen. Ensuring Data Confidentiality via Plausibly Deniable Encryption and Secure Deletion – A Survey. Cybersecurity (2018) 1: 1.
[ComSec ’18 ] Bing Chang, Yao Cheng, Bo Chen, Fengwei Zhang, Wen Tao Zhu, Yingjiu Li, and Zhan Wang. User-Friendly Deniable Storage for Mobile Devices. Elsevier Computers & Security, vol. 72, pp. 163-174, January 2018
[CCS ’17] Shijie Jia, Luning Xia, Bo Chen, and Peng Liu. DEFTL: Implementing Plausibly Deniable Encryption in Flash Translation Layer. 2017 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS ’17), Dallas, Texas, USA, Oct 30 – Nov 3, 2017 (Acceptance rate: 18%)
[ACSAC ’15] Bing Chang, Zhan Wang, Bo Chen, and Fengwei Zhang. MobiPluto: File System Friendly Deniable Storage for Mobile Devices. 2015 Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC ’15), Los Angeles, California, USA, December 2015 (Acceptance rate: 24.4%)
[ISC ’14] Xingjie Yu, Bo Chen, Zhan Wang, Bing Chang, Wen Tao Zhu, and Jiwu Jing. MobiHydra: Pragmatic and Multi-Level Plausibly Deniable Encryption Storage for Mobile Devices. The 17th Information Security Conference (ISC ’14), Hong Kong, China, Oct. 2014

Link to more information about this project: https://snp.cs.mtu.edu/research/index.html#pde


Keith Vertanen and Scott Kuhl Awarded $499K NSF Grant

Scott Kuhl
Scott Kuhl
Keith Vertanen
Keith Vertanen

Keith Vertanen, assistant professor of computer science (HCC), and Scott Kuhl (HCC), associate professor of computer science, are principal investigators of a recently funded three-year National Science Foundation grant for their project, “CHS: Small: Rich Surface Interaction for Augmented Environments.” The expected funding over three years is $499,552.00.

Vertanen and Kuhl are members of Michigan Tech’s Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) Center for Human-Centered Computing. A 2018 ICC research seed grant funded by ECE Alumnus Paul Williams was used to produce some of the preliminary results in the successful proposal. More info about the Williams Seed Grant can be found here: https://blogs.mtu.edu/icc/2019/07/16/appropriating-everyday-surfaces-for-tap-interaction/.

A related video can be found here: https://youtu.be/sF7aeXMfsIQ.

Abstract: Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) head-mounted displays are increasingly being used in different computing related activities such as data visualization, education, and training. Currently, VR and AR devices lack efficient and ergonomic ways to perform common desktop interactions such as pointing-and-clicking and entering text. The goal of this project is to transform flat, everyday surfaces into a rich interactive surface. For example, a desk or a wall could be transformed into a virtual keyboard. Flat surfaces afford not only haptic feedback, but also provide ergonomic advantages by providing a place to rest your arms. This project will develop a system where microphones are placed on surfaces to enable the sensing of when and where a tap has occurred. Further, the system aims to differentiate different types of touch interactions such as tapping with a fingernail, tapping with a finger pad, or making short swipe gestures.

This project will investigate different machine learning algorithms for producing a continuous coordinate for taps on a surface along with associated error bars. Using the confidence of sensed taps, the project will investigate ways to intelligently inform aspects of the user interface, e.g. guiding the autocorrection algorithm of a virtual keyboard decoder. Initially, the project will investigate sensing via an array of surface-mounted microphones and design “surface algorithms” to determine and compare the location accuracy of the finger taps on the virtual keyboard. These algorithms will experiment with different models including existing time-of-flight model, a new model based on Gaussian Process Regression, and a baseline of classification using support vector machines. For all models, the project will investigate the impact of the amount of training data from other users, and varying the amount of adaptation data from the target user. The project will compare surface microphones with approaches utilizing cameras and wrist-based inertial sensors. The project will generate human-factors results on the accuracy, user preference, and ergonomics of interacting midair versus on a rigid surface. By examining different sensors, input surfaces, and interface designs, the project will map the design space for future AR and VR interactive systems. The project will disseminate software and data allowing others to outfit tables or walls with microphones to enable rich interactive experiences.


Soner Onder Presents Talk in Barcelona, Spain

Soner Onder is pictured on the right in the front.

Sonder Onder (SAS), professor of computer science, presented an invited talk at “Yale:80: Pushing the Envelope of Computing for the Future,” held July 1-2, 2019, in Barcelona, Spain. The workshop was organized by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in honor of the 80th birthday of Yale Patt, a prominent computer architecture researcher. Onder was one of 23 invitees to give a talk. His lecture was titled, “Program semantics meets architecture: What if we did not have branches?”

View the slides from Onder’s talk: Yale80-in-2019-Soner-Onder

Yale Patt is a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Ernest Cockrell, Jr. Centennial Chair in Engineering. He also holds the title of University Distinguished Teaching Professor. Patt was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2014, among the highest professional distinctions bestowed upon an engineer. View Patt’s faculty webpage at: http://www.ece.utexas.edu/people/faculty/yale-patt.

Link to the workshop’s website here: http://research.ac.upc.edu/80-in-2019/

Visit the workshop’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/BSCCNS/posts/workshop-yale-80-in-2019pushing-the-envelope-of-computing-for-the-futurehttprese/2217508564992996/

Soner Onder, Barcelona, Spain
Soner Onder at Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain

Soner Onder Presents Keynote at SAMOS XIX

Soner Onder
Soner Onder

Soner Onder (SAS), professor of computer science, presented a keynote lecture July 8, 2019, at the International Conference on Embedded Computer Systems: Architectures, Modeling and Simulation (SAMOS XIX) on Samos Island, Greece, which was held July 7-11. Onder’s talk was titled, “Form Follows Function: The Case for Homogeneous Computer Architectures.” Onder also participated in the conference’s “The Annual Open Mike Panel.”

Keynote Lecture Abstract: ”Form follows function” is a principle associated with 20th-century modernist architecture and industrial design which says that the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose”[2]. For best performance in computer architecture, form must follow function as well. What are form and function in computer architecture? Form is easy to understand and interpret in its dictionary meaning; Function is not so clear-cut. In this talk, I will start with a simple problem, an algorithm, and a basic program representation that will be interpreted by the machine, and show that delivering high performance rests on solving only a handful, but fundamentally difficult problems. I will argue that the mere existence of domain specific solutions that general purpose computing cannot match in performance is a testament that the general purpose computing is ”not general enough”. What makes an architecture ”not general enough” is not the architecture itself, but rather the mismatch between the function its form had followed and the actual semantics of programs. To illustrate the point, I will challenge the widely understood interpretation of instruction-level parallelism (ILP) as ”single-thread performance”, and show that this interpretation is too short-sighted. We can efficiently exploit all types of available parallelism, including process-level, thread-level and data level parallelism, all at the instruction-level, and this approach is both feasible and necessary to combat the complexity that is plaguing our profession. I will then discuss why an executable single-assignment program representation [1] may be the ultimate function whose implementations may result in homogeneous general purpose architectures that can potentially match the performance of accelerators for specific tasks, while exceeding the performance of any accelerator traditional architecture combination for general tasks. I will conclude by discussing our results with Demand-driven Execution (DDE), whose form follows this single-assignment program representation.

About SAMOS (from http://samos-conference.com/): SAMOS is a unique conference. It deals with embedded systems (sort of) but that is not what makes it different. It brings together every year researchers from both academia and industry on the quiet and inspiring northern mountainside of the Mediterranean island of Samos, which in itself is different. But more importantly, it really fosters collaboration rather than competition. Formal and intensive technical sessions are only held in the mornings.A lively panel or distinguished keynote speaker ends the formal part of the day, and leads nicely into the afternoons and evenings — reserved for informal discussions, good food, and the inviting Aegean Sea. The conference papers will be published by Springer’s Lecture Notes in Computer Science – LNCS and will be included in the DBLP Database.

Samos Island, Greece
Samos Island, Greece

Ali Ebnenasir is Co-author of Article in ACM Transactions on Computational Logic

Ali EbnenasirAli Ebnenasir (SAS/CS), professor of computer science, is co-author of the article, “On the verification of livelock-freedom and self-stabilization on parameterized rings,” published in the July 2019 issue of the journal ACM Transactions on Computational Logic. The article is co-authored by Alex Klinkhamer of Google.

Abstract: This article investigates the verification of livelock-freedom and self-stabilization on parameterized rings consisting of symmetric, constant space, deterministic, and self-disabling processes. The results of this article have a significant impact on several fields, including scalable distributed systems, resilient and self-* systems, and verification of parameterized systems. First, we identify necessary and sufficient local conditions for the existence of global livelocks in parameterized unidirectional rings with unbounded (but finite) number of processes under the interleaving semantics. Using a reduction from the periodic domino problem, we show that, in general, verifying livelock-freedom of parameterized unidirectional rings is undecidable (specifically, Π10-complete) even for constant space, deterministic, and self-disabling processes. This result implies that verifying self-stabilization for parameterized rings of self-disabling processes is also undecidable. We also show that verifying livelock-freedom and self-stabilization remain undecidable under (1) synchronous execution semantics, (2) the FIFO consistency model, and (3) any scheduling policy. We then present a new scope-based method for detecting and constructing livelocks in parameterized rings. The proposed semi-algorithm behind our scope-based verification is based on a novel paradigm for the detection of livelocks that totally circumvents state space exploration. Our experimental results on an implementation of the proposed semi-algorithm are very promising as we have found livelocks in parameterized rings in a few microseconds on a regular laptop. The results of this article have significant implications for scalable distributed systems with cyclic topologies.

Citation: Klinkhamer, A., & Ebnenasir, A. (2019). On the verification of livelock-freedom and self-stabilization on parameterized rings. ACM Transactions on Computational Logic, 20(3), 16:1-16:36. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3326456

MTU Digital Commons link: https://digitalcommons.mtu.edu/michigantech-p/146/

ACM link: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?doid=3338853.3326456


Computer Science Faculty Students Attend Innovation and Technology Conference

Computer Science doctoral candidate Briana Bettin

The College of Computing and the Computer Science Department were well represented at the 24th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education  (ITiCSE 19), July 14-17, at University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, Scotland.

Senior Lecturer Leo Ureel, along with  James Heliotis,  professor of computer science at Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology, led a working group titled, “Towards an Ability to Direct College Students to an Appropriately Paced Introductory Computer Science Course.” Professor Linda Ott and Associate Professor Charles Wallace participated in the working group, “1.5 Degrees of Separation: Computer Science Education in the Age of the Anthropocene.”

PhD student Briana Bettin presented her paper, “More Effective Contextualization of CS Education Research: A Pair-Programming Example,” co-authored with Linda Ott and Leo Ureel.  Charles Wallace presented his poster, “A Prototype MATLAB Code Critiquer,” co-authored with Leo Ureel and undergraduate computer science student Marissa Walther.  Associate Professor Jean Mayo (ICC/CyberS) presented, ” Teaching Integer Security Using Simple Visualizations,” co-authored with Lecturer James Walker, recent PhD graduate Man Wang, Adjunct Professor and Professor and Chair of Computer Science at Western Michigan University Steven Carr, and Professor Ching-Kuang Shene.  Also attending the conference was computer science undergraduate Miriam Eikenberry-Ureel.

 


Bo Chen is PI of $200K NSF Research and Development Grant

Bo Chen, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Bo Chen (Comp Sci/ICC) is Principal Investigator on a project that has received a $199,975 research and development grant from the National Science Foundation. The project is titled “EAGER: Enabling Secure Data Recovery for Mobile Devices Against Malicious Attacks.” This is a potential two-year project.

Abstract: Mainstream mobile computing devices like smart phones and tablets currently rely on remote backups for data recovery upon failures. For example, an iPhone periodically stores a recent snapshot to iCloud, and can get restored if needed. Such a commonly used “off-device” backup mechanism, however, suffers from a fundamental limitation that, the backup in the remote server is not always synchronized with data stored in the local device. Therefore, when a mobile device suffers from a malware attack, it can only be restored to a historical state using the remote backup, rather than the exact state right before the attack occurs. Data are extremely valuable for both organizations and individuals, and thus after the malware attack, it is of paramount importance to restore the data to the exact point (i.e., the corruption point) right before they are corrupted. This, however, is a challenging problem. The project addresses this problem in mobile devices and its outcome could benefit billions of mobile users.

A primary goal of the project is to enable recovery of mobile devices to the corruption point after malware attacks. The malware being considered is the OS-level malware which can compromise the OS and obtain the OS-level privilege. To achieve this goal, the project combines both the traditional off-device data recovery and a novel in-device data recovery. Especially, the following research activities are undertaken: 1) Designing a novel malware detector which runs in flash translation layer (FTL), a firmware layer staying between OS and flash memory hardware. The FTL-based malware detector ensures that data being committed to the remote server will not be tampered with by the OS-level malware. 2) Developing a novel approach which ensures that the OS-level malware is not able to corrupt data changes (i.e., delta) which have not yet been committed to the remote server. This is achieved by hiding the delta in the flash memory using flash storage’s special hardware features, i.e., out-of-place update and strong physical isolation. 3) Developing a user-friendly approach which can allow users to conveniently and efficiently retrieve the delta hidden in the flash memory for data recovery after malware attacks.

Link to an Unscripted article about related research at  https://www.mtu.edu/unscripted/stories/2018/march/how-to-speed-up-bare-metal-malware-analysis-and-better-protect-mobile-devices.html.


Ali Ebnenasir is Co-Author of Publication in ACM Transactions on Computational Logic

Ali Ebnenasir
Ali Ebnenasir

An article co-authored by Ali Ebnenasir (SAS/CS) and Alex Klinkhamer, “Verification of Livelock-Freedom and Self-Stabilization on Parameterized Rings,” was recently published in ACM Transactions on Computational Logic.

Abstract: This article investigates the verification of livelock-freedom and self-stabilization on parameterized rings consisting of symmetric, constant space, deterministic, and self-disabling processes. The results of this article have a significant impact on several fields, including scalable distributed systems, resilient and self-* systems, and verification of parameterized systems. First, we identify necessary and sufficient local conditions for the existence of global livelocks in parameterized unidirectional rings with unbounded (but finite) number of processes under the interleaving semantics. Using a reduction from the periodic domino problem, we show that, in general, verifying livelock-freedom of parameterized unidirectional rings is undecidable (specifically, Π10-complete) even for constant space, deterministic, and self-disabling processes. This result implies that verifying self-stabilization for parameterized rings of self-disabling processes is also undecidable. We also show that verifying livelock-freedom and self-stabilization remain undecidable under (1) synchronous execution semantics, (2) the FIFO consistency model, and (3) any scheduling policy. We then present a new scope-based method for detecting and constructing livelocks in parameterized rings. The proposed semi-algorithm behind our scope-based verification is based on a novel paradigm for the detection of livelocks that totally circumvents state space exploration. Our experimental results on an implementation of the proposed semi-algorithm are very promising as we have found livelocks in parameterized rings in a few microseconds on a regular laptop. The results of this article have significant implications for scalable distributed systems with cyclic topologies.

https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3326456&dl=ACM&coll=DL

doi: 10.1145/3326456