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NUS PhD e-open day 2020

Introductory talk given to PhD students starting research at NUS PhD open day 2020. Covers research in Computer Science, and some experience in research on trustworthy software systems.

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NUS PhD e-open day 2020

  1. 1. 3 Is of PhD & the oft-forgotten 3rd I Prof. Abhik Roychoudhury CS Dept, National University of Singapore NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 All comments are my own, for discussion only.
  2. 2. So we are here to … talk about NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 PhD
  3. 3. View of PhD Process oriented ? NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 Outcome oriented? Skills oriented Mindset oriented 3
  4. 4. PhD Skills needed for mind-set (this talk) Requires and Grows Skills Develops a Mind-set (By-product) Pleasant Outcomes (Along the way) there is a process NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 4
  5. 5. PhD requires Skills Let us start with some basic skills … • Reading a paper (state-of-the-art) and quickly judging a contribution. • Compare the contributions of each paper • chart the growth of a research area over time. • Identify certain emerging research trends alluded to in recent publications, and check their feasibility NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 5
  6. 6. Basic Skills needed Basic ones, Why? • They involve effort and discipline, of course! • They involve analytical skills, given the papers you need to analyze them, and distill out the positioning of the papers. • Involves pro-actively looking outside, and doing so analytically • In research, we are expected to be analytical NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 6
  7. 7. First I of PhD NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 Involves pro-actively looking outside, and doing so analytically 7
  8. 8. Less Obvious Skills Why so? • Choosing the right problems at the right time • Choosing from a known set of problems. • Why will it be impactful if you study it now? • What technical skills and background are needed, AND • Why you are the right person right now to tackle this problem? • Looking inside yourself, reflection … NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 8
  9. 9. Second I of PhD NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 Looking inside yourself, reflection … 9
  10. 10. Least Obvious Skills Least Obvious ones, Qualitative • Develop clarity about research contribution • Research paper, degree, x number of citations ?? • Contribution is how you progress the field • It is argumentative and Qualitative in nature, as opposed to quantitative • Stepping up : making space for others to contribute NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 10
  11. 11. Third I of PhD NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 Making space for others to contribute Even beyond high-quality problem solving This talk, with focus on Computing research in general, and by sharing … Personal experience in CS research in trustworthy software. 11
  12. 12. Contributions in Computer Science • Conceptual Contribution • Focus is on the imagination such as invention of program representations by Frances Allen. • She revolutionized compilation, so that you can compile your programs today for your assignment NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 12
  13. 13. Contributions in CS • Technical Contribution • [Transplantation / Adaptation style] Amir Pnueli brought ideas from philosophy to build temporal logics for specifying properties of programs. • [Cross-fertilization style] Clarke, Emerson and Sifakis developed model checking as an automated procedure for checking programs • Today, these are being used to check critical properties of SW in the car you are driving. • Also, used for checking Intel processors we are using NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 13
  14. 14. Contributions in CS • Utilitarian Contribution • build a novel system which acts a great enabler. • Need to be careful that it is not implementation of known ideas. • Conveys important design goals and principles. • Invention of Unix operating system by Ken Thompson, which has influenced Apple’s MacOS which you and I might be running right now. • Technical and utilitarian contributions often go hand-in-hand. NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 14
  15. 15. Make your own Contribution NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 You have several ideas, and you can even evaluate their Technical, Conceptual Contributions Which one to choose? Towards new directions ?? 15
  16. 16. Third I of PhD NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 Making space for others to contribute Even beyond high-quality problem solving This talk, with focus on Computing research in general, and by sharing … Personal experience in CS research. 16
  17. 17. Own Experience • Focusing on my own research community • Software testing via symbolic execution • Proposed in 1976 • Aided by growth of Constraint Solver capability • Uptake from some companies in 10 years • Some of the research is quite theoretical • Heavy investment for a company initially • Pays off in long term, used in multi-national corporations today. NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 17
  18. 18. Throwback from 1976 ~ 2006 NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 18 “Program testing and program proving can be considered as extreme alternatives. …. This paper describes a practical approach between these two extremes … Each symbolic execution result may be equivalent to a large number of normal tests” Software Seed Tests Engine (calculate path for seed tests, convert it to logic, mutate logical formula to find inputs which go through other paths, solve mutated logic formula and get more inputs … ) Test suite covering many paths Aided by growth in solver technology
  19. 19. (Non-exhaustive) History of AI Symbolic AI • 1958 LISP • 1965 Resolution theorem proving • 1970 Prolog • 1982-92 Fifth Generation Comp Sys • 1995 - … Advances in SAT, SMT solving • 2005 - 08… Symbolic Execution as analysis technology (from 1976) Biologically inspired AI • 1959 Perceptron • 1970 - … Genetic Algorithm • 1980 -… Neural Networks • 1992 Genetic Programming • 1997 Deep Blue • 2012 AlexNet work on CNN NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 19
  20. 20. NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 20 Intelligent Programming Not easy to search
  21. 21. Practical Example NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 21 1 i f ( hbtype == TLS1 HB REQUEST) { 2 . . . 3 memcpy (bp , pl , payload ) ; 4 . . . 5 } (a) The buggy part of the Heartbleed- vulnerable OpenSSL 1 i f ( hbtype == TLS1 HB REQUEST 2 && payload + 18 < s->s3->rrec.length) { 3 . . . 4 } (b) A fix generated automatically 1 if (1 + 2 + payload + 16 > s->s3->rrec.length) 2 return 0; 3 . . . 4 i f ( hbtype == TLS1_HB_REQUEST) { 5 . . . 6 } 7 e l s e i f ( hbtype == TLS1_HB_RESPONSE) { 8 . . . 9 } 10 r e t u r n 0 ; (c) The developer-provided repair The Heartbleed Bug is a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic software library. This weakness allows stealing the information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure the Internet. SSL/TLS provides communication security and privacy over the Internet for applications such as web, email, instant messaging (IM) and some virtual private networks (VPNs). --- Source: heartbleed.com
  22. 22. Autonomous Systems NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 22 Can autonomous software test and repair itself autonomously to cater for corner cases? Can autonomous software repair itself subject to changes in environment?
  23. 23. NUS Alumni – Sample Placements NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 23 https://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~tsunami/placement.htm Marcel Boehme Senior Lecturer, Monash (Influenced tools to find security vulnerabilities, which are used daily) Hong Hu Assistant Professor, Penn State (Vulnerability detection and defense) Sergey Mechtaev Lecturer, University College London (Automated fixing of vulnerabilities) ACM SIGSOFT Outstanding Dissertation Van-Thuan Pham Lecturer, Univ of Melbourne (Influenced tools to find security vulnerabilities, which are used daily) Shweta Shinde Assistant Professor, ETH Zurich (Isolated/secure execution, Trusted Computing) Shruti Tople Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research Cambridge (Trusted computing) Shin Hwei Tan Assistant Professor SUSTech, China (Automated fixing of vulnerabilities)
  24. 24. Go beyond hot areas • PhD takes 5 years • An area in CS which is hot in 2020 very unlikely to be hot in 2025 • Lot of example periods from the history of Computer Science • Your situation will be affected by what is hot in 2024-25 • Not a matter of jumping into the bandwagon • “If you see a bandwagon, it’s too late.” • Go beyond hot areas • Go beyond technical contributions • Conceptual contributions chart directions. • Help create hot areas from cool ones, using ?? NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 24
  25. 25. 3 Is of PhD research Contributions • Utilitarian Contribution • Technical Contribution • Conceptual Contribution 3 Is of PhD research NUS PhD e-open day, 2020 25 Come, Imagine the problems of the future, here at NUS!

Introductory talk given to PhD students starting research at NUS PhD open day 2020. Covers research in Computer Science, and some experience in research on trustworthy software systems.

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