Significant Bits

Taulbee Survey Highlights CS Growth Spurt in Academe

May 13th, 2014 in Significant Bits.

The 2013 Taulbee Survey published by the Computing Research Association reported the second consecutive year of record doctoral degree production in Computer Science, continued strengthening of undergraduate Computer Science enrollments, and significant investments in Computer Science footprint on campuses across the US and Canada.

[Read the Report]

HPC Wire: Open Cloud Test-Bed Bolsters Big-Data Innovation

April 30th, 2014 in MOC News, Significant Bits.

By Tiffany Trader. Published in HPC Wire on April 28, 2014.

On Friday, in the Western Massachusetts town of Holyoke, Governor Deval Patrick and officials from industry, government and academia joined together for the official launch of a $3 million capital investment, known as the Massachusetts Open Cloud (MOC) project. The public-private initiative will establish a new cloud computing infrastructure to serve as a virtual laboratory for big data researchers and innovators across the state. One of the first aims of the MOC Project will be to study the feasibility of operating HPC applications in this open cloud environment. More

Boston Globe Quotes Bestavros on Social Engineering

April 25th, 2014 in Significant Bits.

The Boston Globe quotes Azer Bestavros, BU Computer Science professor and Founding Director of the Hariri Institute, in their article “Around Internet, password fatigue setting in Protection becomes a not-so-secret frustration”

E-mail access in particular is a gateway to other sites because it contains so much personal information, and hackers can exploit a that weak link to work their way into a more lucrative target, such as a bank account, said Azer Bestavros, a professor of computer science at Boston University.

“It’s called ‘social engineering,’ ” he said. “You could be part of a bigger plot. They use you as a step in a bigger scheme. This is why a person who would appear to be totally average could be useful to a hacker.”

[Read the article]

Research by Institute Fellows Recognized in The Economist

April 25th, 2014 in Institute News, Significant Bits.

Research by Institute Fellows Giorgos Zervas and John Byers, and their student Davide Proserpio was mentioned in The Economist.

 A team at Boston University examined hotel revenues in Texas, where Airbnb has grown much faster in some cities (like quirky, left-wing Austin) than others (like Fort Worth, more of a cowboy town). They could not find a significant influence from Airbnb on business and luxury hotels. But in places where it has established a presence, it cut the revenues of budget hotels by 5% in the two years to December 2013.

[Read the article] [Read their paper]


Physics Colloquium – Jennifer Chayes, Microsoft Research New England

March 18th, 2014 in Institute News, Significant Bits.

This event is part of the Physics Department Colloquia Series. Refreshments will be served at 3:00 in the 1st Floor Lounge.

Abstract: Everywhere we turn these days, we find that networks can be used to describe relevant interactions. In the high tech world, we see the Internet, the World Wide Web, mobile phone networks, and a variety of online social networks. In economics, we are increasingly experiencing both the positive and negative effects of a global networked economy. In epidemiology, we find disease spreading over our ever growing social networks, complicated by mutation of the disease agents. In problems of world health, distribution of limited resources, such as water resources, quickly becomes a problem of finding the optimal network for resource allocation. In biomedical research, we are beginning to understand the structure of gene regulatory networks, with the prospect of using this understanding to manage the many human diseases. In this talk, I look quite generally at some of the models we are using to describe these networks, processes we are studying on the networks, algorithms we have devised for the networks, and finally, methods we are developing to indirectly infer network structure from measured data. In particular, I will discuss models and techniques which cut across many disciplinary boundaries.

Sabermetrics 101 Q&A with Professor Andy Andres

March 3rd, 2014 in Significant Bits.

Professor Andy Andres interviews with Baseball Prospectus about his upcoming MOOC, Sabermetrics 101: Introduction to Baseball Analytics.


[Read more]

EU Pushes to Globalize Internet Governance

February 20th, 2014 in Significant Bits.

The European Union’s executive body is raising pressure to reduce U.S. influence over the Internet’s architecture amid what it called weakened confidence in the network’s governance after revelations of U.S. surveillance.

[Read More]

Commenting on this, Director of the Hariri Institute, Professor Azer Bestavros noted that “This has been in the making for a while, reflecting the global nature of the Internet, compared to what it was only 20 years ago. The latest NSA revelations are providing more ammunition for this tug of war.” He also added that once we go down “governance” (whether by US or EU or by each individual country such as China and Iran), “it won’t be long until the Internet will evolve to have national boundaries (a la customs, import/export rules, etc.  What governments don’t seem to get is that unlike “traditional territories” the virtual nature of the Internet will always defeat whatever rules are put on it. So, it is really pointless to worry about whether or not the control of things like domain names is overseen by US or EU or UN.

MOOCs are Looking Good

February 20th, 2014 in Significant Bits.

“As many instructors are finding out, teaching a MOOC is not that different from teaching a face-to-face course — at least the kind where you stand in front of a large auditorium.”

[Read More]

Sharon Goldberg Selected as 2014 Sloan Fellow

February 18th, 2014 in BU News, Institute News, Significant Bits.


Sharon Goldberg

Hariri Institute Fellow and Computer Science Assistant Professor, Sharon Goldberg, has been selected as one of 126 Alfred P. Sloan scholars for 2014.

Awarded annually since 1955, the fellowships are given to early-career scientists and scholars “whose achievements and potential identify them as rising stars, the next generation of scientific leaders.” Past Sloan Research Fellows have gone on to notable careers, winning Nobel Prizes, Fields Medal in mathematics, National Medals of Science, among others.

Covering eight scientific and technical fields—chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary molecular biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences, and physics—the Sloan Research Fellowships are awarded by an independent panel of senior scholars on the basis of a candidate’s independent research accomplishments, creativity, and potential to become a leader in his or her field. Sloan Fellows receive $50,000 to further their research.

Sharon Goldberg pursues research at the nexus of security, cryptography, and networking. She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University in 2009, her B.A.Sc. from the University of Toronto in 2003, has worked as a researcher at IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft, as an engineer at Bell Canada and Hydro One Networks, and has served on working groups of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and most recently was awarded the IETF/IRTF Applied Networking Research Prize for 2014. Sharon joined the BU Computer Science Department in 2010 and was named a Hariri Junior Fellow in 2012.

[Read the Sloan Foundation Press Release]

Institute Fellows Shed Light on Winners and Losers of the Sharing Sconomy

February 11th, 2014 in Significant Bits.

In an article entitled “Why It’s So Hard to Figure Out the Sharing Economy’s Winners and Losers”, Emily Badgerof the Atlantic Cities web site discusses the recent research by Institute Fellows Giorgos Zervas and John Byers and their student Davide Proserpio on the “Sharing Economy”. This research is the first to provide empirical evidence that the sharing economy (from sharing cab rides to sharing apartments) is significantly changing consumption patterns, as opposed to generating purely incremental economic activity, as argued in prior work.

[Read the Article]  [Read the Research Paper]