Category: Computer Science

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

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.

doi: 10.1145/3326456

Soner Onder to Give Invited Talk

Soner Onder
Soner Onder

Tech Today announced that Soner Onder (CS) is giving an invited talk titled “Program semantics meets architecture: What if we did not have branches?” at a workshop organized in honor of the 80th birthday of Yale Patt of University of Texas, Austin. Patt is a very prominent researcher with decades of accomplishments in Computer Architecture.

The workshop titled “Yale: 80 in 2019, Pushing the Envelope of Computing for the Future” scheduled to take place on July 1-2, 2019 in Barcelona, Spain, is organized by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and Barcelona Supercomputing Center, and is being sponsored by Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities) of Spain, among others.

Grant Funds Virtual Keyboard Research

What if an everyday surface, like a table, could be transformed into a rich, interactive surface that can remotely operate things like computers, entertainment systems, and home appliances?

That’s what Michigan Tech Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC) researchers Keith Vertanen (CS)  and Scott Kuhl (CS) set out to do with a $44,000 seed grant from Electrical and Computer Engineering alumnus Paul Williams ’61.

Vertanen and Kuhl are members of the ICC’s Center for Human-Centered Computing, which integrates art, people, design, technology and human experience in the research of multiple areas of human-centered computing. They were assisted in this research by PhD candidate Siva Krishna Kakula, and undergraduate Zachary Garavet.

The team’s research goals were threefold:

  • To create machine learning models that can precisely locate a user’s taps on a surface using only an array of inexpensive surface microphones
  • To demonstrate the feasibility and precision of the models by developing a virtual keyboard interface on an ordinary wooden table
  • To conduct user studies to validate the system’s usability and performance.

Read the full story.

ICC Achievement Awards

At the annual awards banquet of the Michigan Tech Institute of Computing and Cybersysytems (ICC), on Friday, April 12, three ICC members received the ICC Achievement Award in recognition of their exceptional contributions to research and learning in the fields of computing.

Soner Önder, director of the ICC Center for Scalable Architectures and Systems and professor of computer science, was recognized for his research in next-generation architectures. Önder is principal investigator of three National Science Foundation (NSF) grants, and he has three NSF grant proposals under review.

Kevin Trewartha, a member of the ICC’s Center for Human-Centered Computing, was recognized for his interdisciplinary and collaborative research at the intersection of technology and human motor movement. Trewartha is an assistant professor with a dual appointment in the departments of Cognitive and Learning Sciences and Kinesiology and Integrative Physiology. He is co-principal investigator, with ICC member Shane Mueller, of a new, three-year, interdisciplinary and collaborative project funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Bo Chen, a member of the ICC’s Center for Cybersecurity and assistant professor of computer science, was recognized for his teaching and research in cybersecurity of mobile devices. Chen is the co-PI of two external grants on cybersecurity from the National Security Agency, and he has submitted numerous cybersecurity proposals to NSF, NSA, Microsoft and Google.

The ICC, founded in 2015, promotes collaborative, cross-disciplinary research and learning experiences in the areas of cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, data sciences, human-centered computing and scalable architectures and systems. It provides faculty and students the opportunity to work across organizational boundaries to create an environment that mirrors contemporary technological innovation. Five research centers comprise the ICC. Visit the ICC website, contact the ICC at or 7-2518.

CSR Workshop – 2019

Michigan Tech hosted the workshop “Exploring Computer Science Research” Friday – Sunday (April 5-7). The workshop was one of 15 Google has sponsored in the U.S. and was organized by four CS Faculty: Leo Ureel, Linda Ott, Jean Mayo and Laura Brown. The workshop was for women and underrepresented groups to explore research and graduate school opportunities in computer science.

There were 26 attendees from six universities or colleges across Michigan and Wisconsin. Over the course of the weekend each student got to participate in a research experience, investigating a research question with a faculty mentor. Topics included:

  • Machine Vision – Robert Pastel
  • Data Science in Energy Systems – Laura Brown
  • Cybersecurity and Privacy in Storage Systems – Bo Chen
  • Agent-based Simulations in Education – Leo Ureel
  • Human Computer Interactions: Natural Language Processing for Assistive Technologies – Keith Vertanen

After learning about and working on their research topics, the students presented out to the group. In addition to their research experiences, attendees learned about different job opportunities after graduate school, heard how to apply to graduate schools and talked to current graduate students about the graduate school experience and their research.

Guest speakers included Niloofar Gheissari and Anja Gruenheid, two Google employees, Pushpalatha Murthy, Dean of the Graduate School and Robin Hunicke, our keynote speaker from the University of California Santa Cruz and Funomena.

2019 Graduate Research Colloquium Award Recipients

The Graduate Student Government (GSG) hosted the 11th Annual Graduate Research Colloquium March 27 and 28, to celebrate the hard work and outstanding achievements of our graduate students. The event has grown from a one-session event with a handful of participants into a two-day event with a record 85 participants, representing 17 academic schools and departments. The event ended with an awards banquet honoring presenters, award nominees and three new awards recognizing departments for supporting graduate education. Congratulations to the 2019 graduate student recipients for their outstanding accomplishments.

Congratulations to Daniel Byrne who received the Graduate Student Service Award!  Read the full Tech Today article here

Call for Applications: Songer Research Award for Human Health Research

2018-19 Songer Award Recipients. Pictured Left to Right: Abby Sutherland, Billiane Kenyon, Jeremy Bigalke, Rupsa Basu, Matthew Songer, and Laura Songer.

Matthew Songer, (Biological Sciences ’79) and Laura Songer (Biological Sciences ’80) have generously donated funds to the College of Sciences and Arts (CSA) to support a research project competition for undergraduate and graduate students. Remembering their own eagerness to engage in research during their undergraduate years, the Songers established these awards to stimulate and encourage opportunities for original research by current Michigan Tech students. The College is extremely grateful for the Songers’ continuing interest in, and support of, Michigan Tech’s programs in human health and medicine. This is the second year of the competition.

Students may propose an innovative medically-oriented research project in any area of human health. The best projects will demonstrate the potential to have broad impact on improving human life. This research will be pursued in consultation with faculty members within the College of Sciences and Arts. In the Spring of 2019, the Songer’s gift will support one award for undergraduate research ($4,000) and a second award for graduate research ($6,000). Matching funds from the College may allow two additional awards.

Any Michigan Tech student interested in exploring a medically related question under the guidance of faculty in the College of Sciences and Arts may apply. Students majoring in any degree program in the college, including both traditional (i.e., biological sciences, kinesiology, chemistry) and nontraditional (i.e., physics, psychology, social science, bioethics, computer science, mathematics) programs related to human health may propose research projects connected to human health. Students are encouraged to propose original, stand-alone projects with expected durations of 6 – 12 months. The committee also encourages applications from CSA students who seek to continue research projects initiated through other campus mechanisms, such as the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Pavlis Honors College activities or the Graduate Research Forum (GRF).

Funds from a Songer Award may be used to purchase or acquire research materials and equipment needed to perform the proposed research project. Access to and research time utilizing University core research facilities, including computing, may be supported. Requests to acquire a personal computer will be scrutinized and must be fully justified. Page charges for publications also may be covered with award funds, as will travel to appropriate academic meetings. This award may not be used for salary or compensation for the student or consulting faculty.

To apply:

  • Students should prepare a research project statement (up to five pages in length) that describes the background, methods to be used, and research objectives. The statement also should provide a detailed description of the experiments planned and expected outcomes. Students must indicate where they will carry out their project and attach a separate list of references/citations to relevant scientific literature.
  • The application package also should provide a concise title and brief summary (1 page) written for lay audiences.
  • A separate budget page should indicate how funds will be used.
  • A short letter from a consulting faculty member must verify that the student defined an original project and was the primary author of the proposal. The faculty member should also confirm her/his willingness to oversee the project. This faculty letter is not intended to serve as a recommendation on behalf of the student’s project.

Submit applications as a single PDF file to the Office of the College of Sciences and Arts by 4:00 p.m. Monday, April 22. Applications may be emailed to

The selection committee will consist of Matthew Songer, Laura Songer, Shekhar Joshi (BioSci) and Megan Frost (KIP). The committee will review undergraduate and graduate proposals separately and will seek additional comments about the proposed research on an ad-hoc basis from reviewers familiar with the topic of the research proposal. Primary review criteria will be the originality and potential impact of the proposed study, as well as its feasibility and appropriateness for Michigan Tech’s facilities.

The committee expects to announce the recipients by early May of 2019. This one-time research award will be administered by the faculty advisor of the successful student investigator. Students will be expected to secure any necessary IRB approval before funds will be released. Funds must be expended by the end of spring semester 2020; extensions will not be granted. Recipients must submit a detailed report to the selection committee, including a description of results and an accounting of finds utilized, no later than June 30, 2020.

Any questions may be directed to Megan Frost (, David Hemmer ( or Shekhar Joshi (

Two new grants in one month, way to go, Robert!

Congratulations to Robert Pastel for his new grant of $116,561 as a part of a collaborative NSF project, titled “Collaborative Research: MSB-FRA: Scaling Climate, Connectivity and Communities in Streams project”. This is a $1.4 million grant that involves Oklahoma University,  University of Arizona, University Louisiana at Lafayette, Virginia Tech, Northern Arizona University, University of California at Berkeley, and Michigan Tech. The project studies the ecology of intermittent streams as they dry. Northern Arizona University and Michigan Tech will develop smartphone applications for mapping wet and dry stream reaches for researchers and citizen scientists.
Two new grants in a month, way to go, Robert!