By conroynm

Corporate Partners Day 2015

March 2nd, 2015 in Recent News

The Corporate Partners Day is on Friday, March 20th, 12:30 – 5pm.

In this event, CS graduate students present posters and demos regarding their current research and results in the areas of networking, image processing and computer vision, database systems, operating systems, programming languages and software systems, computer and network security, and theoretical computer science.

The open house enables faculty members, staff, and students at Boston University to share current research in computer science and information technology with alumni, industrial colleagues, prospective graduate students, as well as with the larger BU community. The full schedule is below:

  • 12:30PM: Kick-off lunch in CS Graduate Student Lounge. Guests are invited to join.
  • 1:00PM: Welcome and introduction to the Department of Computer Science, Room 148
  • 1:30: 5:00PM – Open house for research presentations in the Graduate Student lab

Aaron Stevens featured on BU’s STEM Education Initiatives Website

February 24th, 2015 in Recent News

Class “Flipping”

Every faculty member faces the same dilemma—there are just so many class hours in the semester and a lot of material for students to learn. This is especially true when students are taking an introductory course where they have little to no background in the topic. How do you maximize the precious amount of time so that students truly understand the material?

Aaron Stevens solved this constraint by “flipping” CS108, a course that enrolls students who have no background in programming. Students learn the Python programming language, with the course ending in the creation of a data-driven Facebook app. After observing how much time it was taking him to show examples in class, Stevens decided to have his students complete the examples outside of the course. Students then used class time to work on assignments. Students are now able to work through more programming assignments and gain a better understanding of programming—making challenging assignments much easier.

Watch a video about CS 108’s flipped classroom

(Text from BU’s STEM Education Initiatives website)

Workshop on Recent Trends in Computer Vision – March 2nd

February 15th, 2015 in Recent News

A day-long workshop featuring 30 talks by computer vision researchers, covering a broad range of topics.

Please complete the Registration Form if you plan to attend. Registration is free of charge, but space may be limited.

Event Website

Research by Georgios Zervas, Davide Proserpio, and John Byers covered in NYTimes

January 30th, 2015 in Recent News

Professors John Byers (CAS Computer Science) and Georgios Zervas (SMG), as well as PhD candidate Davide Proserpio (CAS Computer Science) are featured in the New York Times about their research on the sharing economy, specifically Airbnb. They recently published a paper on the subject, A First Look at Online Reputation on Airbnb, Where Every Stay Is Above Average.

“Customer reviews are a new form of credit report, one that measures manners instead of finances. Although such ratings have been tried before — eBay was a pioneer — the practice has taken off with the rise of the so-called on-demand economy.”

“They [Zervas, Byers, and Proserpio] looked at more than 2,000 properties listed on both Airbnb, which allows hosts to rate guests, and TripAdvisor, which does not. In theory, the reviewers should say the same thing on each service. But on Airbnb the enthusiasm is much more palpable. The number of cross-listed properties rated 4.5 stars or above is 14 percent higher on Airbnb than on TripAdvisor. The number that receive 5 stars, a perfect score, is 18 percent higher.
‘There are incentives that encourage the over-reporting of positive experiences and the underreporting of negative experiences,’ Mr. Zervas said.

One theory: If Airbnb guests seem too critical they might get turned down by future hosts who worry they will be too demanding. Who wants a cranky guest complaining about the noise at 3 a.m.? A better approach is just to shower everyone and everything with praise.

‘You’re going to have a great time,’ Mr. Zervas said. ‘Whether you like it or not.'”

Full Article

BU Research Article

Research by Mikhail Breslav and Diane Theriault featured in Science News

January 30th, 2015 in Recent News

Mikhail Breslav and Diane Theriault, both PhD candidates in the Computer Science Department, were in a Science News article about the research they have done as part of AIRFOILS (for Animal-Inspired Robust Flight with Outer and Inner Loop Strategies). The AIRFOILS team, headed by Kristi Morgansen of the University of Washington Seattle, is constructing autonomous drones that “feel” their environment. The team includes Ty Hedrick, a biologist at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and BU researchers in Biology, Engineering, and Computer Science.

“Diane Theriault and Mikhail Breslav have partnered with Hedrick to expand the scope of multicamera videos to examine swarms of flying animals, such as bats and swallows. Theriault has constructed algorithms to track dozens of individual free-tailed bats as they emerge at dusk from caves in Texas. And Breslav is adding infrared technology to monitor those nighttime flights.”

Full Article

BU Data Science Initiative takes off

January 9th, 2015 in Recent News

Launched in the summer of 2014 by University Provost Jean Morrison, Boston University’s Data Science Initiative (DSI) seeks both to leverage BU’s existing strengths and further expand its capacity to compete and lead in the Big Data revolution.

Data is the currency of discovery and innovation in almost every scientific and professional endeavor. At BU, data scientists have long been mining mountains of data to uncover new information and transform research methodologies in diverse disciplines — from health care and business to design and communications. Now, BU is growing its capacity to evolve the technologies and methodologies of data science itself. From engineering and mathematics to politics, business and the sciences, BU researchers are breaking important ground in their fields by merging disciplines and discovering new answers through the application of data science.

At the core of DSI is an effort to recruit some of the world’s finest interdisciplinary faculty with proven track records in data science and strong potential for long-term impact at BU and beyond. Anchored at the Rafik B. Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science and Engineering and led by Computer Science Professor Azer Bestavros, the Initiative supports the hiring of a cohort of faculty members who will complement and expand BU’s footprint in data science research.

As a hub for high-impact collaborative research that applies data-driven solutions to real-world problems, the Hariri Institute is exceptionally equipped to lead the expansion of BU’s data science capacity, in coordination with cognate academic departments and research centers. The Hariri Institute provides a unique environment and a common space that encourages DSI faculty to connect, cross disciplinary lines, and pursue game-changing research outside traditional departmental settings.

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Leo Reyzin and Sharon Goldberg awarded grant from Verisign Labs

December 18th, 2014 in Recent News

Professors Sharon Goldberg and Leo Reyzin received a 25k grant from Verisign Labs to fund the development of NSEC5, a proposed modification of the DNSSEC protocol.

Abstract: DNSSEC is designed to prevent network attackers from tampering with domain name system (DNS) messages. The cryptographic machinery used in DNSSEC, however, also creates a new vulnerability, zone enumeration, enabling an adversary to use a small number of online DNSSEC queries combined with offline dictionary attacks to learn which domain names are present or absent in a DNS zone. We start by proving that the design underlying current DNSSEC standard, with NSEC and NSEC3 records, inherently suffers from zone enumeration: specifically, we show that security against network attackers and privacy against zone enumeration cannot be satisfied simultaneously unless the DNSSEC server performs online public-key cryptographic operations. We then move on to proposing NSEC5, a new cryptographic construction that solves the problem of DNSSEC zone enumeration while remaining faithful to the operational realities of DNSSEC. NSEC5 can be thought of as a variant of NSEC3 in which the unkeyed hash function is replaced with an RSA-based keyed hashing scheme.

NSEC5 Talk (YouTube)

BUILDS team places 2nd and wins $10K at CyberSEED competition

October 23rd, 2014 in Recent News

BUILDS cyberseed

Four members of BUILDS traveled to the University of Connecticut to participate in a Software Challenge at the CyberSEED conference, put on by UCONN’s Comcast Center of Excellence for Security Innovation on October 19th-21st. The challenge was a binary reversing and stack smashing exploitation challenge. Allan Wirth (President), Huy Le (Vice President), Andrew Trainor (Secretary) and Quentin Li participated in the 30 hour event and placed 2nd out of 12 teams, winning $10k.

Half of the winnings will be going to BUILDS so that they can buy some new equipment and perhaps give people small travel grants for various competitions, etc.

SCOPE Project led by Azer Bestavros featured in BU Today

October 17th, 2014 in Recent News

The Smart-city Cloud-based Open Platform & Ecosystem (SCOPE) will develop cloud computing–based services and products to solve urban problems ranging from traffic congestion to dirty air with a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

SCOPE will be coordinated by the Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering and led by faculty investigators from several disciplines—computer science, electrical and computer engineering, earth and environment, strategy and innovation, and city planning and urban affairs. The NSF has funded SCOPE with a three-year, $850,000 grant. With contributions from the partners, its total budget exceeds $1 million.

SCOPE principal investigator Azer Bestavros, a College of Arts & Sciences computer science professor and the Hariri Institute’s founding director, says BU and its SCOPE partners—an array of Massachusetts businesses, city and state agencies, and planning groups—could have their first products available within the grant’s three-year life. A product or service could be offered for free or for a price, depending on which partner—business, public agency, or university—is offering it.

BU Today article

Sharon Goldberg published in the Communications of ACM magazine

October 17th, 2014 in Recent News

Professor Sharon Goldberg has been published in Communications of ACM, Volume 57, Number 10. Her article, Why is it taking so long to secure internet routing?, is about the vulnerability of BGP (Border Gateway Protocol), which plays a vital role in keeping the Internet together.

BGP (Border Gateway Protocol) is the glue that sticks the Internet together, enabling data communications between large networks operated by different organizations. BGP makes Internet communications global by setting up routes for traffic between organizations—for example, from Boston University’s network, through larger ISPs (Internet service providers) such as Level3, Pakistan Telecom, and China Telecom, then on to residential networks such as Comcast or enterprise networks such as Bank of America.

While BGP plays a crucial role in Internet communications, it remains surprisingly vulnerable to attack. The past few years have seen a range of routing incidents that highlight the fragility of routing with BGP. They range from a simple misconfiguration at a small Indonesian ISP that took Google offline in parts of Asia,32 to a case of BGP-based censorship that leaked out of Pakistan Telecom and took YouTube offline for most of the Internet,2 to a routing error that caused a large fraction of the world’s Internet traffic to be routed through China Telecom,6 to highly targeted traffic interception by networks in Iceland and Belarus.34

People have been aware of BGP’s security issues for almost two decades and have proposed a number of solutions, most of which apply simple and well-understood cryptography or whitelisting techniques. Yet, many of these solutions remain undeployed (or incompletely deployed) in the global Internet, and the vulnerabilities persist. Why is it taking so long to secure BGP?

The answer to this question lies in the fact that BGP is a global protocol, running across organizational and national borders. As such, it lacks a single centralized authority that can mandate the deployment of a security solution; instead, every organization can autonomously decide which routing security solutions it will deploy in its own network. Thus, the deployment becomes a coordination game among thousands of independently operated networks. This is further complicated by the fact that many security solutions do not work well unless a large number of networks deploy them.

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