Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Networking appointment - Dr. Mahesh Marina

We are pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Mahesh Marina to a Lectureship in the School. He will be joining ICSA in November 2006.

Mahesh Marina is currently a research staff member in the UCLA Computer Science Department working with Prof. Rajive Bagrodia on the WHYNET wireless network testbed project.

Mahesh received his B.Tech. degree in Computer Science and Engineering from the Regional Engineering College (now National Institute of Technology), Warangal, India, in 1998; M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1999; and his Ph.D. in Computer Science, under the guidance of Prof. Samir Das, from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 2004. His primary research interests are in the areas of networked & distributed systems with emphasis on wireless mesh, ad-hoc and sensor networks, and performance evaluation. His other research interests include algorithms, and the use of information and communication technologies for development.

Labels: ,

Friday, June 23, 2006

PROSPEKT Partnership

See the Scotsman story:

Adams to head commercial arm of informatics centre. Scotsman 22-Jun-06

We are fortunate to have recruited Colin Adams as Director of Commercialisation, and welcome him back to the University. Colin will be expanding our activities in this area with an £8.25m programme of activities in Knowledge Transfer, Entrepreneurism, and Public Outreach over the next five years.

Project Summary

A £5m SE investment in commercialisation will build on £3.25m from the University and provide

  • a dedicated commercialisation team to pro-actively engage with industry
  • refurbishment of two floors of Appleton Tower (adjacent to the Forum), providing 1,200m2 of commercialisation facilities hosting the above team, and a floor dedicated to industry collaboration
  • programmes and activities to encourage entrepreneurship and resultant company formation
  • international promotion of the School of Informatics and leverage of its global alumni network.

Press Release issued 2006-06-21

A leading figure in the electronics sector has been appointed to direct a programme that will strengthen Scotland’s growing reputation for advanced and applied computing science research and commercialisation.

Dr Colin Adams has been named as Director of Commercialisation at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Informatics. A £42 million purpose built research facility, the Informatics Forum, part-funded by Scottish Executive and Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, is under construction in Edinburgh city centre. The adjacent Appleton Tower is being refurbished to provide a Hub for informatics teaching, commercialisation and life-long learning. Together, these will form a world-leading facility for the new science of informatics.

As a key player in global electronics sector in recent years, Dr Adam’s pedigree is ideal for the demanding new role at the new Edinburgh facility.

Most recently, he was vice president and general manager of Cadence Design Systems in Scotland where he was responsible for the Livingston facility and had worldwide responsibility for Cadence Design Foundry – the electronics design services arm of the £1.2 billion global company.

With a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh, Dr Adams will return to his seat of education after 29 years working in the sector to raise awareness of the School of Informatics. He will build a technology transfer operation and will be charged with establishing a dedicated market-focused commercialisation team which will bridge the gap between industry demands and the world class research. He will manage industry relationships with global enterprises as well as those required to stimulate spinouts and growth in local SMEs.

Once fully operational, the Forum and the refurbished Appleton Tower, will provide state-of-the-art facilities for researchers, students, entrepreneurs and investors to stimulate breakthrough research, generate industrial applications and add value to the Scottish economy. Promoting the Forum as a recognised international centre of excellence will attract world class talent and enable Scotland to compete against the very best.

Colin Adams said: “I’m delighted to take up this exciting new post – the Forum will play an important role in developing a sustainable computing science industry in Scotland. I look forward to working with our universities and technology companies to help them realise the commercial potential of their research and projects.”

The collaborative programme will receive a £14 million boost in funding from Scottish Executive to assist with construction costs and £4.9M from Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian to scale up the implementation of its commercialisation strategy.

Neil Francis, Deputy Chief Executive of Scottish Enterprise Edinburgh and Lothian, said: “Securing the right person for the role of commercialisation director was a major milestone in progress for the Informatics Forum. Colin’s experience in the field and most recently his time with Cadence, an industry leader in its field, makes him an excellent choice for this challenging new role.”

“Harnessing Scotland’s research and development capability in this increasingly important field of informatics is a key part of developing a knowledge driven economy capable of competing globally in the twenty-first century.”

Tim O’Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, says: “I am very pleased with this high quality appointment and look forward to welcoming Colin back to the University. This is a tremendously exciting time for informatics at Edinburgh and Colin's role will be key to ensuring that the significant potential economic benefits of the Forum can be realised for the University and the city, and indeed for Scotland.”

The University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics is considered one of Scotland's national assets and one of the top five locations in the world for computing science and information related research.

Construction of the Forum is well-advanced, and the facility will be operational by the end of 2007. The project is also being supported by the University of Edinburgh, Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, the Wolfson Foundation and private donations.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Informatics Jamboree 2006

Calendar of Jamboree events 7-9 June 2006: XML ICAL

Pay Settlement

The pay increases announced as a result of these negotiations are as follows:

  • August 2006: greater of 3% or £515
  • February 2007: 1%
  • August 2007: 3%
  • May 2008: greater of 3% or £420
  • October 2008: 2.5% or RPI (as at September 2008) whichever is the greater

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Milner Lecture 2006

Shafi Goldwasser:
On the Impossibility of Obfuscation

5.15pm Wednesday, 7 June 2006
Swann Lecture Theatre, Michael Swann Building, The King's Buildings
Edinburgh, UK


Informally, program obfuscation aims at making a program "unintelligible" while preserving its functionality. Whereas practitioners have been engaged in attempts of program obfuscation for many years for purposes of defeating software reverse engineering, its mere theoretical possibility has only recently received attention in the theoretical community.

In particular, the work of Barak et. al. formalized the goal of circuit obfuscation via the "virtual black box" property, which asserts that any predicate that can be computed (in polynomial time) from the obfuscated circuit can also be computed from the input-output behavior of the circuit (i.e., given black-box access to the circuit). It was shown that (contrived) classes of functions that are not obfuscatable exist. In contrast, Canetti and Wee show, under various complexity assumptions, how to obfuscate a particular class of simple functions, called the point (or password) functions, which take the value 1 on exactly one input and are zero on all other inputs. Thus, it seemed completely possible that most functions of interest can be obfuscated even though in principle general purpose obfuscators do not exist.

In this talk we will show that this is unlikely to be the case. In particular, we consider the notion of obfuscation in settings where the adversary, which is given the obfuscated circuit, may have some additional prior information. We first argue that any useful positive result about the possibility of obfuscation must satisfy this extended definition. We will then prove that there exist many natural classes of functions that cannot be obfuscated with respect to auxiliary input, both when the auxiliary input is dependent on the function being obfuscated and even when the auxiliary input is independent of the function being obfuscated.

Joint work with Yael Tauman Kalai.

This is a public lecture, open to all. It is one of a range of events comprising the University of Edinburgh Informatics Jamboree, 7-9 June, 2006.


Shafrira (Shafi) Goldwasser is the RSA Professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, and is also professor of mathematical sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel.

Her first degree was in mathematics from CMU, and she then moved to Berkeley for graduate study. She joined MIT in 1983, becoming the first RSA Professor in 1997.

Her research areas include complexity theory, cryptography and computational number theory. She is the co-inventor of zero-knowledge proofs, which use interactive protocols to demonstrate with high probability the validity of an assertion, without conveying any other information than its validity; these are a key tool in the design of such things as anonymous electronic money. In complexity theory she applied interactive proofs to show that some problems in NP remain hard even when only an approximate solution is needed.

Shafi Goldwasser was the first person to be twice a co-winner of the Gödel Prize: first in 1993 for the original work on interactive proof systems, and again in 2001 for the work on hardness of approximation. She has also won the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award and the RSA Award in Mathematics. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Science, and the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.