Newsletter for Spring 2003

In this issue…

Department Wins a Major NSF ITR award on Safe Network Programming

Professors Azer Bestavros and Assaf Kfoury, led a team of faculty members, including Professors John Byers, Ibrahim Matta, and Richard West, in proposing and securing funding for a major National Science Foundation (NSF) Information Technology Research (ITR) award, which seeks to investigate novel paradigms that enhance the safety and robustness of networked applications. The award, totaling almost $1.8M, will support a number of faculty members, a postdoctoral fellow, and five PhD students over a five-year period. In early 2003, this project got off the ground with the pursuit of a number of projects under the umbrella of the iBench initiative. The Internet Programming WorkBench (iBench) Initiative has as its central goal the development of a rigorous discipline for the specification, programming, and maintenance of distributed applications and services over the Internet. Quoting from the web page of that initiative

The recent metamorphosis of the Internet—from a mere best-effort transport medium to an open communication and computation infrastructure—necessitates the development of robust abstractions that facilitate its use to support a constantly increasing number of applications, in compliance with widely-accepted correctness standards that ensure a verifiably safe, fair, secure, and efficient access of Internet resources. Today, and to a large extent, programming distributed applications over the Internet suffers from the same lack of organizing principles as did programming of stand-alone computers some thirty years ago. Primeval programming languages were expressive but unwieldy; software engineering technology improved not only through better understanding of useful abstractions, but also by automating the process of verification of safety properties both at compile time (e.g., type checking) and run times (e.g., memory bound checks). We believe that the same kinds of improvements could find their way into the programming of distributed Internet services. iBench takes the position that recognizing network flows as the central abstraction around which to develop a programming system for the Internet is perhaps the most important organizing principle. Specifically, to rapidly experiment with and deploy a wide range of new services within the existing constraints of the Internet infrastructure, it is necessary to adopt a more powerful model for the naming, creation, composition, sharing, and processing of Internet flows.

The BU Bridge Newspaper dedicated a front-page article on this effort, which you can read on-line at For more information on the goals, projects, and activities of iBench, please visit the initiative’s web page at

Department Sends Five Female Students to Grace-Hopper 2002 Conference

With support from Microsoft through the Department’s IAP program, five female students from the department were funded to attend the 2002 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, held in Vancouver last fall. This conference is designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront. In addition to special sessions that focus on the role of women in today’s technology fields, presenters–who are leaders in their respective fields, representing industrial, academic and government communities–present their current work. Feedback from our students who have attended this event was quite positive. “It gave me a whole new perspective and made me much more confident that I am not alone in my ambitions of pursuing CS research, while also being a mother” commented one of the graduate students who attended the conference. For more information on the GHC’2002, check

IAP Research Day: A Great Success!2003-03-0002.jpg

With presentations from over 40 students, our 2003 IAP Research Day, held on March 6th, was a great success. Participating companies included representatives from Microsoft, Motorola, Milcord, Sun Microsystems, and Certeon, as well as representatives from Boston University Community Technology Fund and companies they represent. Dean Jeff Henderson and Associate Dean Scott Whitaker also visited the event. Pictures from this event are available at

This year, the department decided to award prizes for best student presentations. A committee of faculty members listened to all presentations and awarded prizes to those who were most capable in communicating their ideas to the non-experts. This year’s winners were Vassilis Athitsos (for his work on Appearance-Based 3D Hand Pose Estimation, supervised by: Stan Sclaroff), Scott W. Russell (for his work on the High Cost of Universality in Provably Secure Steganography, supervised by Leo Reyzin), and Anukool Lakhina (for his work on Sampling Biases in IP Topology Measurements, co-supervised by John Byers, Mark Crovella).

For more information on our IAP program and/or to attend our next such event, please refer to the IAP Web pages, or contact the coordinator of this program, Professor Ibrahim Matta (

IAP Career Development Workshop Helps Students Refine Their Interview Skills

104-0454_IMG.JPGOn March 27th, 2003, the department held its 2003 Career Development Workshop. Over fifty undergraduate students participated in this year’s event, which featured a presentation by Janet Kendall of BU’s Office of Career Services on how to prepare a resume, and a presentation by Holly Peterson of Microsoft on strategies for a successful interview.

In addition to the semi-annual Career Development Workshop, the department makes available to its students and alumni an on-line career management tool, which allows posting of job opportunities and also of resume. For more information on this service (to post jobs or resumes), please refer to the IAP Web pages, or contact the coordinator of this program, Professor Ibrahim Matta (

J Allard (BA’91) featured in the Spring 2003 issue of Bostonia Magazine

J Allard (BU/CS Class of 1991) was featured in an article published earlier this Spring by Bostonia Magazine, the Boston University Alumni Quarterly Publication. Quoting from this article:

Having successfully launched Xbox Live in November, with its real-time online gaming, J Allard (CAS�91) � known as James back in his college days � was recently named vice president for Xbox. As a new kid at Microsoft, fresh out of BU, he got Bill Gates�s attention by pushing the software behemoth into the Internet Age � and finally got his mom to use e-mail. For the past two years, mostly as general manager of Xbox, he�s led the charge in what he calls the digital entertainment revolution. It�s not your older brother�s Pac Man anymore.

You can read the entire article on line at

Start-up Leverages Department Research to Streamline Electronic Data Storage

The result of two years of work on transitioning research ideas from the department laboratories is finally coming to fruition. Professor Gene Itkis has designs that promise to increase the amount of information that can be stored with existing hardware, as well as protect data centers against hackers. These designs caught the eyes of a former venture capitalist, who is now leading the efforts to raise funds for UbqC–a company that will capitalize on Itkis’ ideas among others.

The BU Bridge Newspaper dedicated a front-page article on this effort, which you can read on-line at

Department Institutes New Graduate Research Excellence Award

Earlier last fall, the department faculty instituted an annual competition for Research Excellence Awards (REA) to reward PhD students who have demonstrated excellence in research. An REA award would complement the student’s Research or Teaching Fellowship stipend by $2,000 per semester (or $4,000 per academic year). These awards will be funded through sponsored research projects.

The department is also looking into the possibility of instituting a similar award for its undergraduate students, once a proper source of funding is identified.