Saturday, September 15, 2018

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

Jorge PĂ©rez 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.