CSL seminars - Spring 2014

Location and time: BA5256/BA5205, Time TBA





Presenter Bio

Feb 6

Stefan Saroiu

Zero-Effort Payments (ZEP)
In this talk, I will present Zero-Effort Payments (ZEP), a seamless mobile computing system designed to accept payments with no effort on the customer's part beyond a one-time opt-in. With ZEP, customers need not present cards nor operate smartphones to convey their identities. ZEP uses three complementary identification technologies: face recognition, proximate device detection, and human assistance. I will show how the combination of these technologies enables ZEP to scale to the level needed by our deployments. Together with my colleagues at MSR, I designed and built ZEP, and demonstrated its usefulness across two real-world deployments lasting five months of continuous deployment, and serving 274 customers. The different nature of our deployments stressed different aspects of the system. These challenges led to several system design changes to improve scalability and fault-tolerance.

Stefan Saroiu is a researcher in the Mobility and Networking Research group at Microsoft Research (MSR) in Redmond. Stefan's research interests span mobile systems, distributed systems, and computer security. For the past couple of years, Stefan has also worked on building support for trusted computing in the ARM firmware. This firmware is required by Windows 8 in order to offer any trusted services, such as BitLocker or virtual smart cards. Before coming to MSR in 2008, Stefan spent three years as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto, and four months at Amazon.com as a visiting researcher where he worked on the early designs of their new shopping card system (aka Dynamo). Stefan finished his Ph.D. at the University of Washington where he was co-advised by Steve Gribble and Hank Levy. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his children who have recently started to correct his English with a Romanian accent.

Mar 6

Reza Shokri

Computational Privacy: Two fundamental Problems
Today, data is the fuel of e-business. An increasing amount of data is being produced about individuals in their everyday interactions with various technologies. New services are being introduced and new businesses flourish by mining the rich flow of individuals' information over the Internet. Exciting services however come at a cost of users' privacy, as their data might be used in contexts other than what the users agree with. Moreover, this bait is very attractive to governments and security agencies.
In this talk, I will present two main challenges of computational privacy in the age of big data: consistent quantification and protection of privacy. I present a new privacy metric and a quantification framework to effectively quantify privacy. I will also introduce a new methodology to design optimal user-centric privacy protection mechanisms that find the right balance between privacy and data utility. In the end, I will present these solutions in the context of location-based services, as well as the technical methods to quantify and protect location privacy.

Reza Shokri is a post-doctoral researcher in the Institute of Information Security, Department of Computer Science, ETH Zurich. Prior to this, he was a research assistant in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL, where he received his PhD in March 2013. His research focuses on quantitative analysis of privacy and design of privacy-preserving schemes, for location-based services, recommender systems, web, and genomics. His work on quantifying location privacy was recognized as a runner-up for the annual Award for Outstanding Research in Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PET Award) 2012. More information: http://www.shokri.org

Mar 27

Antoine Kaufmann (Thursday, 12:30pm, SFB560!)

Dragonet: Tackling NIC complexity with modeling
In this talk I will discuss a new approach for building a network stack that can harness the power of a wide range of modern NICs, based on a graph model of both NICs and software protocol state, combined with a graph embedding algorithm.
NICs are increasingly complex and diverse, offering a wide range of hardware functionality to aid network protocol processing. Harnessing the power of NIC hardware requires the ability to control and reason about a variety of different feature sets in the network stack. Towards this goal we are working on Dragonet, a network stack specifically designed to efficiently use a wide range of past, current, and future NICs. One of the core components of Dragonet is Unicorn, a common language for describing both NIC functionality and the state of a protocol stack. To evaluate its expressivity and potential, we present a non- trivial model for the Intel i82599 10GbE NIC, and an algorithm that uses graph embedding to optimize the use of NIC hardware in the network stack.

Antoine Kaufmann is a master's student in the Systems Group at ETH Zurich. He is interested in operating systems research and got his bachelor degree from ETH in 2012. His bachelor's thesis focused on low-latency networking.

Apr 25

Rajesh Balan (Friday, 12:00pm, BA5205!)

The LiveLabs Urban LifeStyle Innovation Platform: Opportunities, Challenges, and Current Results
A central question in mobile computing is how do you test mobile applications, that depend on real context, in real environments with real users? User studies done in lab environments are frequently insufficient to understand the real-world interactions between user context, environmental factors, application behaviour, and performance results. I will introduce LiveLabs, a 5 year project that started at the Singapore Management University in early 2012. The goal of LiveLabs is to convert four real environments, the entire Singapore Management University campus, a popular resort island, a large airport, and a popular shopping mall, into living testbeds where we instrument both the environment and the cell phones of opted-in participants (drawn from the student population and members of the public). We can then provide 3rd party companies, and researchers the opportunity to test their mobile applications and scenarios on the opted-in participants -- on their real phones in the four real environments described above. LiveLabs will provide the software necessary to collect network statistics and any necessary context information. In addition, LiveLabs will provide software and mechanisms to ensure that privacy, proper participant selection, resource management, and experimental results and data are maintained and provided on a need-to-know basis to the appropriate parties.
I will describe the broad LiveLabs vision and identify the key research challenges and opportunities. In particular, I will highlight our current insights into indoor location tracking, dynamic group and queue detection, and energy aware context sensing for mobile phones. I will also share our current status (we have gone live at our university campus) and some of the non-obvious challenges that arise from deploying these systems in real environments.

Rajesh is an associate professor at Singapore Management University's School of Information Systems. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University and has over 15 years of research experience in the broad area of mobile systems and software. Some of the diverse areas that he has worked on include infrastructure support for multiplayer mobile games, improvements to public transportation networks, understanding and improving the software development process in outsourced environments, and developing and testing novel retail-focused mobile applications. Rajesh is also a director of the new LiveLabs Urban LifeStyle Innovation Platform. The goal of this platform is to allow mobile applications and services to be tested with real users on real phones in real-world environments. Currently, LiveLabs has been deployed at a university campus with further deployments at an airport, a resort island, and a large mall planned for the near future. More details about LiveLabs can be obtained at http://www.livelabs.smu.edu.sg

May 1

Justin Cappos (Thursday, 12:00pm, BA5205!)

NetCheck: Network Diagnoses from Blackbox Traces
This talk introduces NetCheck, a tool to diagnose network problems in large and complex applications. NetCheck uses traces from existing blackbox tracing mechanisms, such as strace, to diagnosis network problems in real world applications. NetCheck can diagnose faults without any specific information about the underlying network or application. NetCheck does this by (1) totally ordering the distributed set of input traces, and by (2) utilizing a network model to identify points in the totally ordered execution where the traces deviated from the behavior a programmer is likely to expect. The key insight in this work is to perform network problem diagnosis by understanding how the programmer expects the network to operate and look for differences in the observed behavior.
Our evaluation demonstrates that NetCheck is able to accurately diagnose failures without relying on any application- or network-specific information. For instance, NetCheck correctly identified the existence of NAT devices, simultaneous network disconnection/ reconnection, and platform portability issues. In a more targeted evaluation, we have found that NetCheck correctly detects over 95% of the network problems reported in bug trackers of projects like Python, Apache, and Ruby. When applied to traces of faults observed by a network administrator in a live network, NetCheck identified the primary cause of the fault in 90% of the cases. NetCheck performs diagnosis efficiently and can process a GB-long trace in about 2 minutes.

Justin Cappos is an assistant professor at New York University's Polytechnic School of Engineering. Justin's research interests generally fall broadly in the area of systems security. He focuses on understanding high-impact, large-scale problems by building and deploying systems. His dissertation work on package management has been adopted by popular Linux package managers, enhancing the security of millions of Linux servers worldwide. Prof Cappos's TUF security system is being integrated into production use on Ruby and Python, leading to deployment on nearly a billion devices. In his first three years at NYU, he has received numerous grants and awards including five NSF grants for over $5M USD. He performs regular media outreach and was chosen as one of Popular Science's "Brilliant 10" researchers under age 40 for his work on the Seattle testbed. His Seattle testbed is the world's largest academic testbed with thousands of installs, developers, and users.

May 5

Timothy Roscoe (Monday, 12:00pm, BA5205!)

Treating cores as devices
Power management, dark silicon, and partial failures mean that, in the future, computer hardware will most likely consist of a dynamically-changing set of heterogeneous processor cores. Contemporary operating system structures were not designed with this hardware model in mind, and have difficulty adapting to relatively simple concepts such as processor hotplug. Our work on meeting this challenge in the Barrelfish research OS has led us to treat cores as much as possible (but not entirely) like any other devices in the system. Several novel ideas make this possible: aside from the multikernel architecture itself, we leverage the externalization of kernel state through capabilities, and the concept of a "boot driver", which is the equivalent of a device driver for a processor core.
In this talk I will present our framework for managing a changing set ofcores in a multikernel OS, and some of the surprising consequences: individual kernels can be rebooted, replaced, or upgraded on the fly, cores and hardware threads can be temporarily turned into coprocessors and back again, and per-core OS state can be quickly moved around the hardware to minimize energy usage or enforce performance guarantees.

Timothy Roscoe is a Professor in the Systems Group of the Computer Science Department at ETH Zurich. He received a PhD from the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge, where he was a principal designer and builder of the Nemesis operating system, as well as working on the Wanda microkernel and Pandora multimedia system. After three years building web-based collaboration systems at a startup company in North Carolina, Mothy joined Sprint's Advanced Technology Lab in Burlingame, California, working on application hosting platforms and networking monitoring. Mothy joined Intel Research at Berkeley in April 2002 as a principal architect of PlanetLab, an open, shared platform for developing and deploying planetary-scale services. In September 2006 he spent four months as a visiting researcher in the Embedded and Real-Time Operating Systems group at National ICT Australia in Sydney, before joining ETH Zurich in January 2007. He is a recipient of a 2013 ACM SIGCOMM 10-year test-of-time award, and a 2014 Usenix NSDI 10-year test-of-time award, both for his work on PlanetLab. In 2014 he was made an ACM Fellow for his contributions to operating systems and networking research. His current research interests include operating systems for heterogeneous multicore systems, and network architecture.