I attended the first FORTE conference in Scotland in 1988, and have published in several FORTE conferences since then. Over the past 34 years the field has changed! Using six example applications, from 1989 to 2020, I reflect on how my own research in fundamental theory, models, and tools for distributed systems has evolved, and where we might focus research in the future.
Dame Muffy Calder is a Professor of Computing Science and Vice-Principal and Head of College of Science and Engineering, University of Glasgow. Previously she was the Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland. Her research interests are in computational modelling and automated reasoning for complex, interactive, and sensor-driven systems. She is a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, and she attended the very first FORTE conference in 1988.
Analyzing pedestrian dynamics has since long been an active and practical field of interest. Since the introduction of, in particular, smartphones, various organizations saw a simple means for automatically measuring pedestrian dynamics. The basic idea is simple: network packets sent by WiFi-enabled devices can be collected by sensors and by extracting the unique MAC address from each packet, it should be possible to count how many devices are detected by a single sensor, as well as how devices move between sensors. Although this approach has been commercially deployed for many years, it is now largely forbidden (at least in the EU) due to obvious privacy infringements. In this talk, we address challenges and some potential solutions to automated measurement of pedestrian movements while protecting privacy. The results come from learning the hard way: having run experiments extensively over the past years, we have gradually gained considerable insight in what is possible and what may lie ahead.
MAARTEN VAN STEEN is professor at the University of Twente, where he is scientific director of the Digital Society Institute.
He is specialized in large-scale distributed systems, mainly concentrating on very large wireless distributed systems. Recently, his attention has been drawn to security and privacy aspects of such systems, in particular related to crowd monitoring. His interests include many aspects of distributed systems reflected in publications on, for example, gossiping protocols, decentralized algorithms, peer-to-peer systems, location services, and Internet-based systems. His research is characterized by validating designs through experiments.
Maarten van Steen is (co-)author of several textbooks, including “Distributed Systems,” which is now in the process of being updated to its 4th edition. He is also written an introduction to graph theory and complex networks, aimed at first-year students in Computer and Information Sciences.
A large part of his current professional life is occupied by (research) management. Besides his role as Scientific Director, he is member of the daily board of the Dutch Science Foundation, chair of the Research & Innovation working group of the Dutch AI Coalition, and member of the Program Advisory Board for AiNed (a 400 MEuro national program on AI). Until 2020 he chaired the national ICT-research Platform Netherlands.
In both computer science and economics, efficiency is a cherished property. In computer science, the field of algorithms is almost solely focused on their efficiency. In economics, the main advantage of the free market is that it promises “economic efficiency”. A major lesson from many recent disasters is that both fields have over-emphasized efficiency and under-emphasized resilience. I argue that resilience is a more important property than efficiency and discuss how the two fields can broaden their focus to make resilience a primary consideration. I will include a technical example, showing how we can shift the focus in strategic reasoning from efficiency to resilience.
Moshe Y. Vardi is University Professor and the George Distinguished Service Professor in Computational Engineering at Rice University. He is the recipient of several awards, including the ACM SIGACT Goedel Prize, the ACM Kanellakis Award, the ACM SIGMOD Codd Award, the Knuth Prize, the IEEE Computer Society Goode Award, and the EATCS Distinguished Achievements Award. He is the author and co-author of over 700 papers, as well as two books. He is a Guggenheim Fellows as well as fellow of several societies, and a member of several academies, including the US National Academy of Engineering and National Academy of Science. He holds seven honorary doctorates. He is a Senior Editor of the Communications of the ACM, the premier publication in computing. Moshe Y. Vardi Home page: http://www.cs.rice.edu/~vardi
Software engineers and analysts traditionally focus on cyber systems as technical systems, which are built only from software processes, communication protocols, crypto algorithms, etc. They often neglect, or choose not, to consider the human user as a component of the system’s security as they lack the expertise to fully understand human factors and how they affect security. However, humans should not be designed out of the security loop. Instead, we must deal with security assurance as a true socio-technical problem rather than a mere technical one, and consider cyber systems as socio-technical systems with people at their hearts. The main goal of this talk is to advocate the use of formal methods to establish the security of socio-technical systems, and to discuss some of the most promising approaches, including those that I have helped develop.
Luca Viganò is Professor at the Department of Informatics of King’s College London, UK, where he heads the Cybersecurity Group. His research focuses on formal methods and tools for the specification, verification and testing of cybersecurity and privacy. He is particularly interested in formal analysis of socio-technical systems, whose security depends intrinsically on human users, and of cyber-physical systems, where one needs to explicitly consider the underlying physical processes. He also works on explainable cybersecurity, where, in addition to more formal approaches, he has been investigating how different kinds of artworks can be used to explain cybersecurity and how telling (i.e., explaining notions in a formal, technical way) can be paired with showing through visual storytelling or other forms of storytelling. He is Global Envoy for King’s College London and Vice Dean (Enterprise & Engagement) of the Faculty of Natural, Mathematical & Engineering Sciences.