The good old roll of the dice is the archetype of randomness. And then there are lottery drawings and competitions where the outcome depends on generating random numbers. However, verifiable randomness, or the lack of predictability, continues to be a deep-rooted problem in cryptography. The newly constituted League of Entropy, with EPFL as a founding member, has decided to tackle the problem head on.
EPFL’s home-grown programming language Scala has won this year’s Programming Languages Software Award. The honor is awarded by ACM SIGPLAN each year to an individual or an institution to recognize the development of a software system that has had a significant impact on programming language research, implementations, and tools. Scala was originally developed by Professor Martin Odersky in 2004 at the School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC). Professor Odersky now heads the Scala Center, an open-source foundation for the software based at EPFL.
The 2019 Spring Simulation Conference (SpringSim’19) concluded on May 2 at Tucson, Arizona. During the four-day event, many original papers were presented on the theory and practice of modeling and simulation in the scientific and engineering fields. The conference was especially significant for EPFL and EcoCloud because a paper co-authored by PhD scholar Yasir Mahmood Qureshi was selected for the Runner-up Paper Award.
Media coverage on the distant future of AI and machine learning have painted a scary picture of machines going berserk, rampaging killer robots, and rogue self-driving cars. Those ugly manifestations of machine learning are unlikely to go beyond fiction. But the dangers of machine learning can—and already have—taken different routes. A couple of podcasts featuring El Mahdi El Mhamdi, PhD scholar at EPFL, shed important light on the dark side of AI—poisoned data sets, bad actors, AI-generated fake news, and the Byzantine problem—and his work on technical AI safety and robustness in biological systems.
Elison Matioli, assistant professor at EPFL’s Institute of Electrical Engineering and director of the POWERlab, has joined EcoCloud.
Every weekday, avid followers of computer science wake up to a new writeup by the inimitable Adrian Colyer on his blog The Morning Paper. His insightful selections help bring practical ideas from the academia to the computing practitioner. In a year, readers are exposed to concepts and ideas from more than 200 papers. In his latest post, Adrian Colyer presents a paper co-authored by Alexandros Daglis, Mark Sutherland, and EcoCloud Founder-Director Babak Falsafi.
Qualcomm Technologies has just announced four winners of the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (QIF) for 2019. Among them are Mario Paulo Drumond and Kaicheng Yu, students at EPFL’s School of Computer and Communication Sciences (EDIC). They have been recognized by Qualcomm for their outstanding research proposals on emerging technologies.
Google AI has announced the list of winners for its Faculty Research Awards (2018), and among them is Professor Volkan Cevher from the LIONS’ lab at EPFL. He has earned the distinction under the category ‘Machine learning and data mining.” He is one of only two winners from Europe in that category.
In 2009, EPFL professors Anastasia Ailamaki and Babak Falsafi collaborated with their doctoral and postdoctoral students to present Shore-MT, a scalable storage manager for the multicore era. A decade later, Shore-MT continues to be a robust open-source database storage manager preferred by many users worldwide. In recognition of its continued relevance and usage, the original research paper has been honored with the 2019 EDBT Test-of-Time Award.
The impact of scientific research findings remains limited unless they are disseminated among the research community as a whole. However, sharing research openly is not easy because of many cultural and technological barriers. In a bid to remove those impediments in the way of open research, EPFL President Martin Vetterli launched the Open Science Fund in September 2018.
In a paper published earlier this month, a team of researchers from EPFL and IBM Research introduce the port-induced side channel called SMoTher. They show how it can be leveraged (instead of a cache-based side channel), as a powerful transient execution attack to leak secrets that may be held in registers or the closely-coupled L1 cache, called SMoTherSpectre.
The winners for 2018 have just been announced, and among them is Carmela Troncoso, tenure-track assistant professor in the EPFL School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC).
Siddharth Gupta is pursuing his doctoral program at the School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC) under the supervision of Professor Babak Falsafi, founding director of the EcoCloud research center. Siddharth’s special area of interest is on systems and interdisciplinary systems problems in modern, large-scale datacenters. His current research focuses on providing architectural support for high-performance durable transactions with persistent memory. The award-winning paper stems from that focal area of his research engagement.
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.”