Established in 2002, the BU Computer Science Research Excellence Award (REA) is presented annually to the PhD student or students who have produced outstanding research results over the course of their studies in the department. To be considered for this award, BU/CS PhD students must first be nominated by their advisor. The winners are then recommended by a faculty REA selection committee and approved by the entire BU/CS faculty.

The following are commendations by the REA selection committee for distinguished winners  from past academic years.

Giovanni has pursued an extraordinarily focused and coherent set of questions seeking to shed light on the long-term, global behavior of the Internet’s interdomain routing system.   His research has yielded a string of high quality papers in the selective Internet Measurement Conference.   He has investigated the evolution of global Internet routing to discover the occurrence of significant events that result in large-scale, repeated changes to the routing system, spanning many years.  He has also developed new notions of anomalous routing behavior, and shown how such anomalies can be understood in the context of the economic and engineering goals of ISPs.   His work is characterized by the development of strong formal frameworks for analysis, and straddles the boundaries between the development of new data mining methods and the application of those methods to make discoveries about Internet behavior.   Giovanni is also an outstanding department citizen, providing mentorship and support for his fellow students.
Ethan’s research focus is on cryptocurrencies, blockchains and the security of other deployed global scale networks and his technical strengths are in cryptography and software engineering. While at BU, Ethan has coauthored two workshop papers (at HotNets’13, BITCOIN’16) and three top-tier conference papers (at SIGCOMM’14, USENIX Security’16, NDSS’17).  His work has been awarded an IETF Applied Networking Research Prize (for HotNets’13) and named a top-ten cryptocurrencies research paper of 2015 (USENIX Security’15).
Ethan is a highly creative researcher, who has been the impetus for almost all the blockchain research coming out of the BUSEC research group, and has “converted” many of us to blockchain research.  Beyond that, Ethan has an impressive ability to just “see” solutions to difficult research problems.  The cryptographic protocols, attacks, and solutions in Ethan’s USENIX Security’15, BITCOIN’16, and NDSS’17 papers were all designed almost entirely by Ethan alone.
Beyond this, Ethan has a strong commitment to transitioning his research results to practice. He has spent weeks and months writing patches to the Bitcoin implementation that implement his research results.  This production-quality code, written entirely by Ethan, is now found in almost every Bitcoin client worldwide, as has been integrated in the implementations of several other cryptocurrencies.
Ethan has become quite influential in the practitioner community surrounding blockchain development, and is regularly invited to attend and comment at closed-door practitioner forums and public meetings.  These connections have further strengthened Ethan’s uncanny sense for what problems will be important to the community. Indeed, his two recent conference papers (USENIX Security’15 and NDSS’17) are already well cited and have received significant attention from the blockchain trade press.
Over the last several years Dan has lead a team in the design, implementation and evaluation of a new operating system.  Dan’s work questions the traditional approach for structuring modern cloud computing software.    Dan’s precedent-setting results were published at the 12th USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation (OSDI16).   EbbRT reduces the effort required to construct and maintain library operating systems without hindering the degree of specialization required for high performance. It combines several techniques in order to achieve this, including a distributed OS architecture, a low-overhead component model, a lightweight event-driven runtime, and many language-level primitives. EbbRT is able to simultaneously enable performance specialization, support for a broad range of applications, and ease the burden of systems development.    The value of Dan’s effort goes beyond EbbRT.  He has helped establish a thriving group with deep OS skills, motivation, and a platform on which to build future work.

Omer Paneth, PhD ’16

Omer has written papers that have significantly influenced the state of the art in cryptographic research, including seminal works on the construction of program obfuscation schemes and their use within cryptography and beyond, on succinct delegation of computation, on zero knowledge proofs with low round complexity, on resettable and concurrent protocols, on functional encryption, and much more. Omer also contributed significantly to the success of the BUSEC group, mentoring younger students. and assisting in crypto and security classes.