Wednesday, October 24, 2018

One PhD position at the School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University

The following call for a PhD position at Reykjavik University might be of interest to some of your students. Feel free to distribute it as you see fit.

Open Problems in the Equational Logic of Processes

School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University
One PhD Position

Applications are invited for one PhD position at the School of Computer Science, Reykjavik University.  The position is part of a research project funded by the Reykjavik University Research Fund, under the direction of Luca Aceto (Reykjavik University) and Anna Ingolfsdottir (Reykjavik University) in cooperation with Bas Luttik (TU Eindhoven) and Alexandra Silva (University College London). The overarching goal of this project is to solve some of the challenging open problems in the equational axiomatization of behavioural equivalences over process calculi. Interested applicants can contact Luca Aceto (email: for further details on the research proposal.

The successful candidate will benefit from, and contribute to, the research environment at the Icelandic Centre of Excellence in Theoretical Computer Science (ICE-TCS). For information about ICE-TCS and its activities, see

Moreover, she/he will cooperate with Bas Luttik and Alexandra Silva  during the project work and will benefit from the interaction with their research groups at TU Eindhoven and University College London. The PhD student will also have a chance to interact with Clemens Grabmayer and the CS group at the Gran Sasso Science Institute (, L'Aquila, Italy.

Qualification requirements

Applicants for the PhD fellowship should have, or be about to obtain, an MSc degree in Computer Science, or closely related fields. Some background in concurrency theory and mathematical competence are desirable.

The PhD position provides a stipend of 420,000 ISK (roughly 3,110 € at the current exchange rate) per month before taxes, for three years, starting as early as possible.  In addition, the student will have 300,000 ISK per year available for research-related travel.

Application details

Interested applicants should send their CV, including a list of publications, in PDF to all the addresses below, together with a statement outlining their suitability for the project and the names of at least two referees.

Luca Aceto

Anna Ingolfsdottir

Bas Luttik

Alexandra Silva

We will start reviewing applications as soon as they arrive and will continue to accept applications until the position is filled. We strongly encourage interested applicants to send their applications as soon as possible and no later than 23 November 2018.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Call for nominations for the Presburger Award 2019

Anca Muscholl asked me to advertise the call for nominations for the Presburger Award. I hope that members of the TCS community will nominate many of the young scientists (see the text below for the definition of "young") doing exciting work in TCS.  I wish Anca, Jukka and Thore good luck with their work, as I am sure they will be faced with some difficult choices.

Starting in 2010, the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science
(EATCS) established the Presburger Award. The Award is conferred annually at
the International Colloquium on Automata, Languages and Programming (ICALP) to a young scientist (in exceptional cases to several young scientists) for outstanding contributions in theoretical computer science, documented by a published paper or a series of published papers.

The Award is named after Mojżesz Presburger who accomplished his path-
breaking work on decidability of the theory of addition (which today is called
Presburger arithmetic) as a student in 1929.

Nominations for the Presburger Award can be submitted by any member or
group of members of the theoretical computer science community except the nominee and his/her advisors for the master thesis and the doctoral dissertation. Nominated scientists have to be at most 35 years at the time of the deadline of nomination (i.e., for the Presburger Award of 2019 the date of birth should be in 1983 or later). The Presburger Award Committee of 2019 consists of Thore Husfield (Lund University and IT University of Copenhagen), Anca Muscholl (LaBRI) and Jukka Suomela (Aalto, chair). Nominations, consisting of a two page justification and (links to) the respective papers, as well as additional supporting letters, should be sent by e-mail to:

The subject line of every nomination should start with Presburger Award 2019,
and the message must be received before December 31st, 2018.

The award includes an amount of 1000 Euro and an invitation to ICALP 2019
for a lecture.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

PhD position in "Concurrency, logic and type systems" at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Jorge Pérez has asked me to share the following advertisement for a PhD position in his group at the University of Groningen. I trust that this might be of interest to some of the readers or this blog or their students working in concurrency theory, semantics of programming languages and types. The position is supported by a prestigious NWO VIDI career grant recently awarded to Jorge the project "Unifying Correctness for Communicating Software". Feel free to spread this call for PhD applications as you see fit. The deadline is in roughly two weeks.

(Posted: August 31, 2018)
University of Groningen, The Netherlands

We are searching for one four-year PhD position on the topics of concurrency, logic, type systems, and programming languages.

You will contribute to rigorously comparing different type systems for message-passing programs, such as session types.
These comparisons will use as reference a correspondence known as "propositions as sessions", which connects concurrency and logic in the style of the well-known Curry-Howard correspondence.
We will use the resulting comparisons to streamline existing type systems, and to guide the development of verification tools for message-passing programs.

Your PhD research will be embedded in the project "Unifying Correctness for Communicating Software", a VIDI career grant recently awarded to Dr. Jorge A. Perez by the NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research).
As such, you will join a dynamic, quickly growing research group; within the project, you will collaborate with research partners both in the Netherlands (e.g., at CWI Amsterdam) and abroad.

- Qualifications

You have an MSc degree (or equivalent) in Computer Science, Logic, Mathematics, or Artificial Intelligence, and experience in at least one, preferably two or more, of the following:

• Semantics of programming languages
• Program verification, type systems, and/or typed programming languages
• Concurrency theory and/or process calculi
• The Curry-Howard isomorphism ("propositions as types")
• Modal/substructural logics and (their) proof theory

Female candidates are encouraged to apply.

- Application and Additional Information

For further details on the position and the application procedure, please visit

For further information and expressions of interest, contact Jorge A. Perez (
See also

You may apply until 1 October 23:59h / before 2 October 2018 (Dutch local time).

Friday, September 14, 2018

Shortest-path algorithms applied to software engineering: A tale of cross fertilization within CS

These days, it looks as if many of us are supposed to undertake, or are expected to promise to carry out, interdisciplinary research. However, I have sometimes witnessed first-hand a lack of curiosity even to cross  the (often artificial) boundaries between areas of research within (theoretical) computer science and/or mathematics. This conservative attitude is reasonable at times, and at various stages of one's academic career, and is partly justified by the pressure to produce research output that most of us feel. I freely admit, though, that  I felt a bit uneasy when a colleague from "volume A TCS" told me at an ICALP conference that he was not going to attend  an invited talk delivered by a "volume B researcher" because that would be like going to a talk in the life sciences. (By the way, that invited talk was excellent and was delivered by a charismatic scientist. The colleague in question missed an intellectual treat.)

Perhaps naively, I feel that one of the reasons why we are in academia is that we are intellectually curious and that we should try to explain what we do to one another at least across the various disciplines within CS. Hence, I was very pleased to see this paper, which will appear in the prestigious IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering (behind the usually hefty paywall of the IEEE, alas). The paper stems from discussions between Mattia D'Emidio (a researcher in algorithmics) and Ludovico Iovino (a researcher in software engineering) who were sharing a basement office at the Gran Sasso Science Institute at the time. Those exchanges of ideas led eventually to the development of a framework that uses classic shortest-path algorithms in the selection of optimal chains of model transformations in model-driven SE. More specifically, those colleagues of mine show how to reduce the problem of computing chains of model transformations
that maximize the coverage to a shortest-path problem on weighted graphs. Moreover, they evaluate the practical effectiveness of the proposed approach by applying their automated methodology to a large set of experiments.

IMHO, this is a pleasing example of the kind of serendipitous collaboration that can arise when we are willing to have an open mind and look for possible applications to our techniques in other fields. Kudos to Ludovico, Mattia and their co-authors for going all the way and for publishing their article in a coveted outlet. I look forward to seeing more examples of cross fertilization within CS@GSSI.

Addendum 26/9/2018: Ludovico and Mattia kindly sent me two photos they took while the work was ongoing. (The all-important coffee machine is not pictured.)

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Some recent achievements by the PhD students in CS at the GSSI

Like many others, I believe that students are amongst the best ambassadors for an academic institution, and that their achievements are a good indication of the quality of a graduate programme and of the mentoring skills of its associated faculty members. Therefore, it has given me great pleasure to witness the accolades received by some of the (former) students in the doctoral programme in computer science at the Gran Sasso Science Institute over the last few months.

Readers of this blog might recall that I wrote posts on the following two items.
However, there were several other events worth reporting on which I was too lazy to write a few lines on this blog. Here are three more examples.
  • GSSI alumni Alkida Balliu and Dennis Olivetti, now postdocs at Aalto University in  Jukka Suomela's group, co-authored a paper presented at STOC 2018. The work on the paper was done while they were at the GSSI.
  • Third-year GSSI student Ahmed Abdelsalam was part of the netgroup team at CNIT/uniroma2 that won the Interworking stream at the SoftFIRE Challenge, which addresses issues related to interoperability of the current platform with other infrastructures. In particular, Ahmed's work on IPv6 Segment Routing (SRv6) and his recently developed SRv6 aware version of the network intrusion and detection system Snort featured in the award-winning proposal. If you use Linux, you are probably already running Ahmed's software!
  • In May 2018, Roberto Verdecchia received three awards for his research: 
I'm sure that this is just a small sample and that CS@GSSI students have more achievements of which I am not aware. It is a humbling experience to  see how smart many young researchers are. All one can hope for is to provide a good example for them and to play a small, positive role in their development as scientists.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Best PhD thesis award of the Italian Chapter of the EATCS

One of the prizes of the Italian Chapter of the EATCS is the Best Italian PhD Thesis in Theoretical Computer Science Award. This year, the committee (consisting of Vincenzo Auletta,  Ferdinando Cicalese and Carla Piazza) has unanimously decided to bestow the award on the following two young scientists:
  • Michele Ciampi for his thesis "Round and Computational Efficiency of Two-Party Protocols" and 
  • Luisa Siniscalchi for her dissertation "Delayed-Input and Non-Malleable Cryptographic Protocols".
Both the award recipients were PhD students at the University of Salerno working with Giuseppe Persiano and Ivan Visconti, which is remarkable.

Moreover, the award committee found that the following two theses deserved a honourable mention:
Congratulations to these young scientists. I wish them all a great career, whatever they decide to do in the future.

Friday, August 24, 2018

ICE-TCS Theory Day(s) 2018

The Icelandic Centre of Excellence in Theoretical Computer Science held its 14th annual Theory Day today. The programme is here.

Takeshi Tokuyama (Tohoku University, Japan) kicked off the day with a talk entitled Deformation of Determinants and Related Combinatorics. The talk was based on work that Takeshi did in 1986 (as a mathematics postdoc) and published in 1988. He referred to it as his "sleeping beauty" as there has been a peak of interest in that paper only  in the last ten years. Takeshi's "Weyl character formula" was even the subject of a PROMYS research project in the summer of 2013, which led to a paper that generalizes that formula to the Hall-Littlewood polynomials. The talk surveyed many interesting topics and connections with alternating sign matrices, computation of Boltzmann weights, and crystal bases.

The second half of the Theory Day 2018 was devoted to three short presentations by ICE-TCS researchers devoted to research highlights from the centre. Antonis Achilleos set himself the goal of presenting two and a half years worth of research on monitorability, carried out within the framework of the TheoFoMon project, in 15 minutes. Tigran Tonoyan presented joint work with former ICE-TCS postdoc Christian Konrad addressing the question of whether randomness helps in guessing the middle point of an on-line sequence. (Answer: It does.) Last, but not least, Christian Bean gave an overview of an ongoing project whose goal is to automate proofs of results in enumerative combinatorics. Christian presented many examples of published theorems, some of which from 2018, that can be established using their CombSpecSearcher algorithm and that were previously obtained using human ingenuity.
The Theory Day was preceded by a seminar by Tami Tamir (Efi Arazi School of Computer Science, The Interdisciplinary Center) on Thursday, 23 August 2018. In her talk, Tami gave an excellent introduction to the main research questions in  algorithmic game theory, introduced network formation games and discussed her work with Guy Avni and Orna Kupferman on automata formation games, where the goal of each player is given by a regular language rather than by simple reachability objectives. Tami focused on results presented in this paper, which were mostly of a negative nature. She concluded her informative and entertaining presentation by introducing her university, the Efi Arazi School of Computer Science and how they try to tackle the gender issues in computer science.

Overall, this was another good edition of the Theory Day at ICE-TCS. When we founded the centre on the 29th of April 2005, I had no idea that it would see so many installments of this event. I feel fortunate to have taken part in organizing them, to have worked with so many great colleagues in Iceland and to have met many very interesting and inspiring people along the way. Stay tuned for the Theory Day 2019, which will most likely be held in the spring of next year.