Data centers are taking on huge workloads including Deep Neural Networks, data analytics, and video streaming. Even the most robust CPU- and GPU-based architectures are unable to handle today’s demanding computing environment. Therefore, the current trend is to turn to new forms of accelerators called Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), which demonstrate superior energy performance. Commercial behemoths like Intel, Amazon, and Microsoft have added FPGAs in their data centers through takeovers and system implementations. However, are FPGAs safe from security attacks? If not, how can such attacks be tackled? A fresh research proposal by EPFL’s Mirjana Stojilovic seeks to address these and related concerns regarding FPGAs.
The collaborative engagement between Microsoft and EPFL goes back to 2008 when they came together, along with ETH Zurich, for the Microsoft Innovation Cluster for Embedded Software (ICES). That relationship has matured through the years with various phases of the Swiss Joint Research Center (JRC) projects. In the first two phases (2014-18), Swiss JRC supported 9 EPFL projects. After reviewing and ranking 29 proposals for phase III, including 13 from EPFL, JRC has now confirmed nine proposals. Three of them are from EPFL, including two projects submitted by EcoCloud faculty.
For four days (January 26-29), some of the best minds on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence congregated for the Applied Machine Learning Days (AMLD) conference at the SwissTech Convention Center at EPFL, Lausanne. With EPFL being the principal organizer of the event, professors Marcel Salathé, Martin Jaggi, and Bob West played a stellar role in the conduct of the event. AMLD2019 included talks, tutorials, and workshops, but it will be best remembered for introducing 16 different “AI & your domain” tracks, which featured talks by domain experts and interesting panels.
The 32nd Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS 2018) was held in Montreal between December 2 and 8. The proceedings brought together 8000 attendees and 1011 papers. It also included posters and workshops covering an array of algorithms, theories, experiments, and ideas presented by the crème de la crème of researchers on machine learning. Sieving through this massive database, the insightful platform Medium has shortlisted its influential list of papers and poster presentations. In the latter list is “Training DNNs with Hybrid Block Floating Point,” which was presented by EPFL researchers Mario Drumond, Tao Lin, Martin Jaggi, and Babak Falsafi.
Teaching is an art, and not all teachers are blessed with that skill. It is one thing to deliver lectures to a classroom, and quite another to connect with the students in that classroom. Katerina Argyraki, Tenure Track Assistant Professor at EPFL’s School of Computer and Communication Sciences, clearly belongs to the rarer category of teachers who believe in understanding students’ aptitudes and tailoring lessons accordingly. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that she was recently chosen as “best teacher.”
In early September, scientists, researchers, and industry leaders assembled in Rome for the 26th European Signal Processing Conference (EUSIPCO 2018). This year, the conference received 869 submissions, out of which about 550 were accepted. The reviewers sieved through those hundreds of important research papers to finally announce the Eurasip Best Student Paper Award. The authors of the winning paper are Mira Rizkallah (INRIA, visiting scholar at EPFL), Francesca De Simone (Post-doctoral fellow at EPFL), Thomas Maugey (INRIA), Christine Guillemot (INRIA), and Pascal Frossard (Associate Professor, EPFL).
Browsing websites is not without perils. With each visit, you leave some personal data that might be stored and even used by the website to their advantage. Data protection policies posted on websites are meant to make visitors wary of the danger, but the policies are either wrapped in incomprehensible legalese or clothed with seemingly innocuous generic terms that increase ambiguity about what a website does with your personal data. In February this year, researchers at EPFL launched an AI-backed program called Polisis to make life simpler by automatically scanning thousands of websites and generating an accurate and intelligible summary of the data protection policies in a matter of seconds. Few months down the line, the unique program has attracted more than a score of licensing requests from all over the world.
In early July this year, the Board of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology appointed Mathias Payer as Tenure Track Assistant Professor in EPFL’s School of Computer and Communication Sciences. In a later development, Prof. Payer agreed to become a member of EcoCloud and share his expertise in protecting computer systems from malicious attacks.
The prestigious MICRO Test of Time (ToT) Award is an annual feature at the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Microarchitecture. This year was the 51st edition of the conference, held between October 20 and 24 in Fukuoka City, Japan. In the course of the conference, the Awards Committee named Thomas Ball and James R. Larus as the winners of the fifth MICRO Test of Time Award. That is an honor for EPFL as well; Professor Larus is Dean of the School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC).
Machine learning has become ubiquitous today with applications ranging from accurate diagnosis of skin cancers and cardiac arrhythmia to recommendations on streaming channels and gaming. However, in the distributed machine learning scheme, what if one ‘worker’ or ‘peer’ is compromised? How can the aggregation system be resilient to the presence of such an adversary?
Martin Jaggi, Tenure Track Assistant Professor at EPFL’s School of Computer and Communication Sciences, has won the Google Focused Research Award for 2018 in the area of Machine Learning. The award-winning investigation was on “Large-Scale Optimization: Beyond Convexity,” completed jointly with Alexandre d’Aspremont and Francis Bach.
In about two months’ time, participants will assemble in Seattle for the 26th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Conference on Advances in Geographic Information Systems (ACM SIGSPATIAL 2018). Apart from the academic discourses that will take place at the four-day conference (November 6-9), the event is also of particular interest for EPFL because two of its outstanding researchers will be awarded the Best Paper Award for their contribution to the previous edition of the annual event.
The Dimitris N. Chorafas Foundation recognizes outstanding scientific work in selected fields in engineering sciences, medicine, and natural sciences. The winners are chosen each year from among the select list of graduating doctorate students submitted by the Foundation’s partner universities in Europe, North America, and Asia. One of this year’s awardees is Manos Karpathiotakis, who completed his PhD at EPFL’s Data-Intensive Applications and Systems (DIAS) Laboratory in 2017 and is currently a scientist at the laboratory.
In a press release last month, the Takis & Louki Nemitsas Foundation announced the selection of Anastasia Ailamaki, Professor and Director at EPFL’s Data-Intensive Applications and Systems Laboratory, as the Laureate of the NEMITSAS Prize 2018 in Computer Science.
The 48th International Conference on Dependable Systems and Networks (DSN-2018) was held in Luxembourg City. The four-day event (June 25-28) saw thematic workshops and a series of more than 60 presentations by scholars in the realms of dependability and security research, fields that have been the raison d’être of DSN conferences over the years.
Houston hosted this year’s annual conference of the ACM Special Interest Group on Management of Data (SIGMOND). During the five-day event (June 10-15), several awards were presented to a select group of participants. One of the most coveted of these awards is the Best Demonstration Award, won this year by Professor Anastasia Ailamaki and her student Eleni Tzirita Zacharatou. Both are attached to EPFL’s Data-Intensive Applications and Systems Laboratory. Prof. Ailamaki is Lab Director and Ms Zacharatou is pursuing her doctoral program in computer and communication sciences.
The ACM Multimedia Systems Conference (MMSys 2018) was held between June 12 and 15 in Amsterdam. More than 30 papers were presented at the event under the “research track,” but there was only one winner for the Best Paper Award: a research conducted by Xavier Corbillon, Francesca De Simone, Gwendal Simon, and Pascal Frossard on “Dynamic Adaptive Streaming for Multi-Viewpoint Omnidirectional Videos.”
Each year, the Design Automation Conference (DAC) announces five winners of the Under-40 Innovators Award. This year, one of the winners of the coveted honor is David Atienza, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at EPFL’s Embedded Systems Laboratory.
The ISSS awards only two researches out of the scores of nominations received for consideration from across all Swiss institutes. That emphasizes the novelty of the study by Hamza Harkous.
The 39th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy concluded at San Francisco on May 23. It is considered to be one of the most prestigious events in the academic calendar each year as far as computer security and privacy issues are concerned.
Last month, Google announced the winners of its PhD Fellowship award for 2018. They include 39 researchers from North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Among them is Lana Josipović, a doctoral student in the Processor Architecture Laboratory led by Professor Paolo Ienne. She has been awarded for her outstanding research in the Systems and Networking domain.
The annual mega event at EcoCloud is just around the corner. In little over a fortnight, the Lausanne Palace Hotel will be a buzz of activity as it hosts the two-day EcoCloud annual event, slated for June 18–19. The venue’s prime location, which offers panoramic views of the city, Lake Geneva, and the magnificent Alps, will be an apt setting for industry experts to share insights on budding data and cloud computing platforms.
EcoCloud, the EPFL research center that drives today’s cloud computing technologies, warmly welcomes four new professors to its fold. They are Pascal Frossard, Carmela Troncoso, Robert West, and Paolo Ienne.
Each year, the IEEE Technical Committee on Cyber-Physical Systems (TCCPS) recognizes outstanding scientific contributions under various categories, including the Early- and Mid-Career awards. The winners for 2018 have just been announced by the Committee. Among the awardees is David Atienza, associate professor of electrical engineering and director of the Embedded Systems Laboratory (ESL) at EPFL. He has won the Mid-Career Award for “sustained contributions to thermal processor design and medical wearables.’’
The IBM PhD Fellowship Award, instituted in 1950 to recognize outstanding PhD students who drive innovation, is one of the most sought-after distinctions worldwide. Each year, only a chosen few make it to the elite group. Among the awardees for 2018 is Lefteris Kokoris-Kogias from EPFL’s Laboratory of Decentralized and Distributed Systems. His achievement is all the more creditable because he figured among the awardees for 2017 as well.
In March 2016, EPFL and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) signed a seminal agreement to establish the Humanitarian Tech Hub. The four-year program has opened many avenues of collaboration between the scientific and humanitarian fields. To further cement that relationship, ICRC has just announced the appointment of EPFL’s Edouard Bugnion to the ICRC Assembly.
Web browsing has become almost second nature to us. Each day, we plunge into tens of websites and unwittingly accept their long-winded privacy policies without bothering to peruse their stipulations. This is undoubtedly because those documents are shrouded in legalese too dense and cumbersome to read and digest. Yet, it is a well-known fact that many websites collect, store, and even use the private data that we inadvertently leave behind during our browsing sessions. Disturbingly, such practices are usually protected by the legal jargon contained in their privacy policies. So how do we ascertain the nature of data collected by a website? Is it possible to know how our data will be used by a website even before we start browsing that site?
Geo-replication is gaining ground for distributed services because it brings the services closer to the end users, reduces the page-load time, and increases user engagement. It also enables data platforms, such as that of Facebook, to survive data center failures. However, recent work has proven that no distributed data system can assure the best of desirable properties like low-latency access, partition tolerance, and strong consistency.
Training of large-scale machine-learning models is extremely challenging because the training data is much more than the memory capacity. However, scientists at IBM and EPFL have collaborated to develop a novel scheme that enables the use of accelerators such as GPUs and FPGAs to speed up the training of machine learning models. They presented their findings at the 31st Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) in Long Beach, California.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are finding new applications across industries. Many tasks that were performed by humans are now being handled by machines, adding efficiency to the output. But what would happen if AI crosses the threshold of human control and makes unilateral decisions? It is a frightening, but highly probable, scenario. In 2014, it prompted Google to consider the idea of a “big red button” to stop dangerous AI in an emergency. However, the challenge is not in being able to stop or interrupt an AI process but in preventing AI from biased learning due to such frequent interruptions. The biased learning can be extremely dangerous in multi-agent systems, where several machines are involved in an AI task.