Thursday, February 21, 2008

ACM SIGPLAN Third Workshop on Programming Languages and Analysis for Security (PLAS 2008)

Úlfar Erlingsson has asked me to advertise this event. So, here is the CFP. Do submit! Submission Deadline: March 24, 2008.

ACM SIGPLAN Third Workshop on
Programming Languages and Analysis for Security (PLAS 2008)

Tucson, Arizona, June 8, 2008

Sponsored by ACM SIGPLAN
Co-located with PLDI '08
Supported by IBM Research and Microsoft Research

Submission Deadline: March 24, 2008

Second Call for Papers

PLAS aims to provide a forum for exploring and evaluating ideas on the
use of programming language and program analysis techniques to improve
the security of software systems. Strongly encouraged are proposals of
new, speculative ideas; evaluations of new or known techniques in
practical settings; and discussions of emerging threats and important

The scope of PLAS includes, but is not limited to:

* Language-based techniques for security
* Verification of security properties in software
* Automated introduction and/or verification of security enforcement
* Program analysis techniques for discovering security vulnerabilities
* Compiler-based security mechanisms, such as host-based intrusion
detection and in-line reference monitors
* Specifying and enforcing security policies for information flow
and access control
* Model-driven approaches to security
* Applications, examples, and implementations of these techniques

Important Dates and Submission Guidelines

* March 24, 2008: Submission due date
* April 21, 2008: Author notification
* May 12, 2008: Revised papers due
* May 30, 2008: Student travel grant applications due
* June 8, 2008: PLAS 2008 workshop

We invite papers of two kinds: (1) Technical papers about relatively
mature work, for "long" presentations during the workshop, and (2)
papers for "short" presentations about more preliminary work, position
statements, or work that is more exploratory in nature. Short papers
marked as "Informal Presentation" will only have their abstract
printed in the proceedings. All other papers will be included in the
formal proceedings and must describe original work in compliance with
the SIGPLAN republication policy. Page limits are 12 pages for long
papers and 6 pages for short papers.

Student Travel Grants

Student attendees of PLAS can apply for a travel grant (in addition to
any PLDI grants), thanks to the generous support of IBM Research and
Microsoft Research. The application forms are on the workshop Web site.

Program Organization
* Úlfar Erlingsson, Reykjavík University, Iceland, Program Co-Chair
* Marco Pistoia, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, Program Co-Chair

Program Committee
* Gilles Barthe, INRIA Sophia-Antipolis, France
* Bruno Blanchet, École Normale Supérieure, France
* Andy Chou, Coverity, USA
* Mads Dam, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
* Úlfar Erlingsson, Reykjavík University, Iceland
* Heiko Mantel, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
* Isabella Mastroeni, Università di Verona, Italy
* Greg Morrisett, Harvard University, USA
* Andrew Myers, Cornell University, USA
* David Naumann, Stevens Institute of Technology, USA
* Marco Pistoia, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, USA
* Eijiro Sumii, Tohoku University, Japan
* Dan Wallach, Rice University, USA

The Importance of Being Mobile

A comment on this post reads:

....the musical chairs that us academics play in our careers serves to disseminate our knowledge.
I agree that mobility is important in the career of most academics. Indeed, most of us have studied and worked at several institutions.

I was reminded of this comment yesterday, when I was asked to fill in a EU questionnaire on the mobility of researchers. One of the multiple-choice questions on the form read: "How often should a researcher move at different stages in her/his career?" (I was asked to answer this question since I claimed that mobility is important in the career of a researcher.) For instance, how often should one move over a four-year period at the early stages of one's career? I assumed that this question was referring to the first four years after one's PhD, and my answer off the top of my head was 1-2 times. (What I really meant was twice, but I thought 3-5 times was too much; the rationale being that one should be mobile at that crucial time in one's career, but that being overly mobile might cause too much overhead---especially if this involves changing countries. Later I looked back at my movements in the period 1991-1994 and realized that I actually moved 5 times myself.)

What is your opinion? Is mobility important at all stages of one's career? And how often should a researcher be mobile during the first four years of one's career?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sussex[[Matthew Hennessy = goto Trinity.Continue]]

I apologize for the nerdy title for this post. I just thought that the most appropriate way to summarize the message of the post was to use a "Dpi process". Why? Because Matthew Hennessy, my former PhD supervisor and mentor, and the prime mover behind the development of Dpi has recently left my British alma mater, the University of Sussex, and joined the Department of Computer Science at Trinity College Dublin.

The news was unexpected for many of us, even though Matthew had been contemplating a move for a while. A look at the list of academic staff members of the School of Informatics at Sussex tells me that the diaspora of the group of TCS people I shared my Sussex days with, and that Matthew was instrumental in building, is now complete.

I wish Matthew the best of luck for his life and work at Trinity. As for Informatics at Sussex, I am not so sure that they are looking forward to the results of the RAE 2008. I wish them luck too, but they have lost so many truly excellent researchers over the last few years that I feel they may need more than luck, even though they seem to have hired rather well. Time will tell.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

EATCS Award 2008 to Leslie Valiant

The EATCS Award 2008 will go to Leslie Valiant. You can read the motivation prepared by the Award Committee.

The award will be assigned during a ceremony that will take place in Reykjavik (Iceland) during ICALP (July 6-13, 2008). Leslie Valiant will contribute an invited talk to the event. This is yet another reason for not missing the conference!

BTW, the deadline for submitting to ICALP is approaching. Make sure you have your submissions in by Sunday, 10 February at 23:59 GMT.

I look forward to meeting you in Reykjavík, and to enjoying a scientific feast with the conference participants. Well, probably we organizers won't have that much time to enjoy the event, but we'll try :-)

Addendum (16 February 2008): See also this post by Bill Gasarch on the Complexity Blog. (Make sure you read the beautiful comment by Janos Simon.) You might also want to read the post on bit-player, which links to a very interesting piece on Leslie Valiant's work on holographic algorithms, which was the subject of a column in American Scientist.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

ACM Turing Award 2007 to Clarke, Emerson and Sifakis

Via the Geomblog, I have just learned that ACM has named Edmund M. Clarke, E. Allen Emerson, and Joseph Sifakis the winners of the 2007 A.M. Turing Award for their original and continuing research on model checking. You can read the ACM press release here. This is, of course, outstanding news for the concurrency-theory and the computer-aided-verification communities, and I am looking forward to inform my students about the motivations for this award next time I preach on the importance of temporal logics as specification formalisms in computer science and on model checking and implementation verification.

Normally, I feel that I would have to write a few more lines on model checking in a post like this, but, with a couple of upcoming deadlines, I am very glad to see that Ganesh Gopalakrishnan has done all the work for me on Suresh's blog :-) (Thanks to both of them!) Let me just add that the basic idea underlying model checking can be concisely and memorably summarized by means of an equation that I first saw stated in a set of slides for a talk delivered by Moshe Vardi:

model checking = graphs + logic + algorithms.

Indeed, in model checking we use automata of some kind---that is, (labelled) graphs---to represent (an abstraction of) the actual behaviour of computing systems, (temporal) logics to describe what properties we expect systems to afford, and we employ algorithms to check whether the automaton representing the behaviour of the system has the desired properties at the press of a button. (Alternatively, one can say that we check whether the automaton is a model of the formula describing the specification; hence the name model checking for this verification and validation technique.) As remarked by Ganesh in his perspective on model checking, model checking tools and techniques and now being increasingly used in many other areas apart from system verification and validation. Decision processes, reliability models, planning in AI, optimal scheduling, (on-line) model-based testing and analysis of GUIs are just a few areas of application of model checking. I expect that more will emerge in the near future.

I am particularly happy about this award because, as I hope I have convinced you with the short and oversimplified account above, model checking is an area of TCS where both volume A and volume B TCS play a fundamental role. Moreover, teams working on model checking have produced software tools that can be used to sneak in TCS ideas in first-year courses for CS and engineering students, thus awakening the students' interest in our beautiful area of scientific endeavour. What more can we ask for?

Congrats to Ed, Allen and Joseph!

Addendum (6 February 2008): Make sure you read Rance Cleaveland's guest post on the Complexity Weblog, and that you do not miss Paul Beame's very informative comment.

Friday, February 01, 2008

DBLP Complete Search

I often look at DBLP to find bibtex entries for papers and links to their electronic editions. Now that Holger Bast has produced CompleteSearch, one can use DBLP also as an after-lunch amenity to find more publication data for computer scientists and conferences/journals in the field.

Do you want to know who has published the most in, say, Theoretical Computer Science? Look here, and you'll find that Grzegorz Rozenberg has published a whopping 62 (!) papers in that journal. What about Information and Computation? A look at this page yields that Sanjay Jain is the top scorer with 19 papers. (That researcher also has 20 TCS papers.) Top scorer for JACM is Seymour Ginsburg with 23 papers, with Christos Papadimitriou second with 21 entries. A look at the page for LICS reveals that Moshe Vardi has published 22 papers in that conference, and he is way ahead of the rest of the pack.

I'll stop here, since I do not want to spoil the fun you might have playing with this new feature. Well done, Holger!