2015-2016 Distinguished Lecture Abstracts

Networks of Shapes and Images

Leonidas J. Guibas
Paul Pigott Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
Stanford University

4:10pm Monday September 7, 2015
Room 124 HRBB


Across science, engineering, medicine and business we face a deluge of data coming from sensors, from simulations, or from the activities of myriads of individuals on the Internet. The data often has a geometric and/or visual character, as is the case with 1D GPS traces, 2D images and videos, 3D scans, and so on. Furthermore, the geometric data sets we collect are frequently highly correlated, reflecting information about the same or similar entities in the world, or echoing semantically important repetitions/symmetries or hierarchical structures common to both man-made and natural objects.

It is important to develop rigorous mathematical and computational tools for making such relationships or correspondences between data sets first-class citizens — so that the relationships themselves become explicit, algebraic, storable and searchable objects. Networks of such relations can interconnect data sets into societies where the "wisdom of the collection" can be exploited in performing operations on individual data sets better, or in further assessing relationships between them. Examples include entity extraction from images or videos, 3D segmentation, the propagation of annotations and labels among images/videos/3D models, variability analysis in a collection of shapes, etc.

The talk will cover general mathematical and computational tools for the construction, analysis, and exploitation of such relational networks — illustrated by several concrete examples using 3D models and/or images. By creating societies of data sets and their associations in a globally consistent way, we enable a certain joint understanding of the data that provides the powers of abstraction, analogy, compression, error correction, and summarization. Ultimately, useful semantic structures simply emerge from these map networks, with little or no supervision.

This "functorial" view of geometric data puts the spotlight on consistent, shared relations and maps as the key to understanding structure in data. It is a little different from the current dominant paradigm of extracting supervised or unsupervised feature sets, defining distance or similarity metrics, and doing regression or classification – though representation sparsity still plays an important role. The inspiration is more from ideas in functional analysis and homological algebra, exploiting the algebraic structure of data relationships or maps in an effort to disentangle dependencies and assign importance to the vast web of all possible relationships among multiple geometric data sets.


Leonidas Guibas obtained his Ph.D. from Stanford under the supervision of Donald Knuth. His main subsequent employers were Xerox PARC, DEC/SRC, MIT, and Stanford. He is currently the Paul Pigott Professor of Computer Science (and by courtesy, Electrical Engineering) at Stanford University. He heads the Geometric Computation group and is part of the Graphics Laboratory, the AI Laboratory, the Bio-X Program, and the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering. Professor Guibas’ interests span geometric data analysis, computational geometry, geometric modeling, computer graphics, computer vision, robotics, ad hoc communication and sensor networks, and discrete algorithms. Some well-known past accomplishments include the analysis of double hashing, red-black trees, the quad-edge data structure, Voronoi-Delaunay algorithms, the Earth Mover's distance, Kinetic Data Structures (KDS), Metropolis light transport, heat-kernel signatures, and functional maps. Professor Guibas is an ACM Fellow, an IEEE Fellow and winner of the ACM Allen Newell award.

Faculty Contacts: John Keyser (keyser@cse.tamu.edu) and Scott Schaefer (schaefer@cse.tamu.edu)

Looking Beyond Exaflops & Zettabytes

Pradeep Dubey
Director of the Parallel Computing Lab
Intel Corporation

4:10pm Monday, November 30, 2015
Room 124 HRBB


We are seeing an unprecedented convergence of massive compute with massive data. This confluence has the potential to significantly impact both how we do computing and what computing can do for us. In this talk, I will discuss some of the application-level opportunities and system-level challenges at the intersection of traditional high-performance computing and emerging data-intensive computing.


Pradeep Dubey is an Intel Fellow and Director of Parallel Computing Lab (PCL), part of Intel Labs. His research focus is computer architectures to efficiently handle new compute-intensive application paradigms for the future computing environment. Dubey previously worked at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, and Broadcom Corporation. He has made contributions to the design, architecture, and application-performance of various microprocessors, including IBM® Power PC*, Intel® i386™, i486™, Pentium® Xeon®, and the Xeon Phi™ line of processors. He holds over 36 patents, has published over 100 technical papers, won the Intel Achievement Award in 2012 for Breakthrough Parallel Computing Research, and was honored with Outstanding Electrical and Computer Engineer Award from Purdue University in 2014. Dr. Dubey received a PhD in electrical engineering from Purdue University. He is a Fellow of IEEE.

Faculty Contacts: Lawrence Rauchwerger (rwerger@cse.tamu.edu) and Aakash Tyagi (tyagi@cse.tamu.edu)

Truth and Consequences

Eugene H. Spafford
Professor of Computer Science
Executive Director, Purdue CERIAS
Purdue University

4:10pm Monday, December 7, 2015
Room 124 HRBB


It is well known that our computing infrastructure is under continuous attack, and the intensity of those attacks appears to be increasing. Defenders are usually in the unfortunate position of building ever more complex defenses that must be augmented after each new round of penetration. Meanwhile, our systems are built, by default, to be welcoming and provide useful feedback when an error occurs — with successful attacks not triggering much, if any, warning.

The “Liarsclub” group at Purdue have been exploring how to employ deception as a defensive technique. Our goals is to provide misleading or deceptive information to attackers, thus decreasing their chances of success and increasing the likelihood of defenders being alerted. In this talk, I will outline the taxonomy of deception that we have produced, and describe some approaches we have taken to employ deceit and misdirection as cyber defenses. This will include some discussion of our ersatz password mechanism, and some deceptive network services.


Eugene H. “Spaf” Spafford is a professor of Computer Sciences at Purdue University. He is also a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (courtesy appointment), Philosophy (courtesy), a professor of Communication (courtesy), and is the founder and Executive Director of the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security. CERIAS is a campus-wide multi-disciplinary Center, with a broadly-focused mission to explore issues related to protecting information and information resources. Professor Spafford and his students are credited with a number of security "firsts," including the first open security scanner, the first widely-available intrusion detection tool, the first integrity-based control tool, the first multistage firewall, the first formal bounds on intrusion detection, the first reference model of firewalls, and some of the first work in vulnerability classification databases. Much of the current security product industry can therefore be viewed as based, in part, on his past research; some of his ideas directly led to the establishment of two commercial firms: Tripwire and Signacert.

His current research is directed towards issues of public policy and information security, architecture and construction of highly-secure systems, and cyberforensic technologies. Dr. Spafford is a Fellow of the ACM, Fellow of the AAAS, Fellow of the IEEE, Fellow of the (ISC)^2, and is a Distinguished Fellow of the ISSA. He was the year 2000 recipient of the NIST/NCSC National Computer Systems Security Award, generally regarded as the field s most significant honor in information security research. He has received all three of Purdue’s highest recognitions for teaching: the "Charles B. Murphy" award, named as a Fellow of the Purdue Teaching Academy, and named to the "Book of Great Teachers." Among other honors, he has been elected to the ISSA Hall of Fame, awarded the William Hugh Murray medal of the NCISSE. recognized with an Air Force medal for Meritorious Civilian Service, awarded the IEEE Computer Society s Taylor Booth medal, received ACM SIGCAS s "Making a Difference" award, given the IEEE Computer Society s Technical Achievement Award, and received ACM SIGSAC s "Outstanding Contribution" award. In 2007, he was honored with the rarely-given ACM President’s Award, and in 2008, with the prestigious CRA Distinguished Service Award. Among his many current activities, Spaf is chair of the ACM’s U.S. Public Policy Council (USACM), is a member of the USAF Air University Board of Visitors, and is editor-in-chief of Computers & Security, the oldest journal in information security. Professor Spafford received his MS and Ph.D. from Georgia Tech, and his BA degree and an honorary D.Sc. from the SUNY College at Brockport.

Faculty Contact: Daniel Ragsdale (rags@tamu.edu)

Using Formal Methods to Eliminate Exploitable Bugs

Kathleen Fisher
Professor of Computer Science
Tufts University
Former Program Manager of DARPA’s HACMS Program

4:10pm Monday, February 15, 2016
Room 124 HRBB


For decades, formal methods have offered the promise of software that doesn’t have exploitable bugs.  Until recently, however, it hasn’t been possible to verify software of sufficient complexity to be useful. Recently, that situation has changed.  SeL4 is an open-source operating system microkernel efficient enough to be used in a wide range of practical applications. It has been proven to be fully functionally correct, ensuring the absence of buffer overflows, null pointer exceptions, use-after-free errors, etc., and to enforce integrity and confidentiality properties.  The CompCert Verifying C Compiler maps source C programs to provably equivalent assembly language, ensuring the absence of exploitable bugs in the compiler.

A number of factors have enabled this revolution in the formal methods community, including increased processor speed, better infrastructure like the Isabelle/HOL and Coq theorem provers, specialized logics for reasoning about low-level code, increasing levels of automation afforded by tactic languages and SAT/SMT solvers, and the decision to move away from trying to verify existing artifacts and instead focus on co-developing the code and the correctness proof.   In this talk I will explore the promise and limitations of current formal methods techniques for producing useful software that provably does not contain exploitable bugs.  I will discuss these issues in the context of DARPA’s HACMS program, which has as its goal the creation of high-assurance software for vehicles, including quad-copters, helicopters, and automobiles.


Kathleen Fisher is Professor in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University. Previously, she was a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at AT&T Labs Research, a Consulting Faculty Member in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University, and a program manager at DARPA where she started and managed the HACMS and PPAML programs. Kathleen's research focuses on advancing the theory and practice of programming languages and on applying ideas from the programming language community to the problem of ad hoc data management.

Kathleen is an ACM Fellow. She has served as program chair for FOOL, ICFP, CUFP, and OOPSLA and as General Chair for ICFP 2015. Kathleen is past Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group in Programming Languages (SIGPLAN), past Co-Chair of CRA's Committee on the Status of Women (CRA-W), and a former editor of the Journal of Functional Programming.  She is an Associate Editor for TOPLAS.

Faculty Contacts: Nancy M. Amato (amato@tamu.edu) and Daniel Ragsdale (rags@tamu.edu)

Technology Considerations in Computer Architecture

Jean-Luc Gaudiot
Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
University of California - Irvine

4:10pm Wednesday, March 9, 2016
Room 124 HRBB


Good engineering practice uses the characteristics of existing technologies to optimize implementation.  Often, this will mean that design techniques optimal in a previous generation prove impractical or even unusable when a new technology becomes dominant.  This rule is all too often forgotten, which we will demonstrate in two problems of computer design:  Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA) and hardware prefetchers (providing the ability to fetch data early in anticipation of the need).  FPGAs are extremely useful in mobile embedded systems where computing power and energy considerations are major concerns.  Partial reconfiguration is often used to reduce power consumption when parts of the array are inactive, albeit at the cost of high energy overhead due to the large cost of transferring configuration information. Our study reveals that partial reconfiguration accelerates execution and reduces overall energy consumption by half.  Second, we will demonstrate how increased transistor integration allows hardware prefetching to improve both energy-efficiency and performance.


Jean-Luc Gaudiot received the Diplôme d'Ingénieur from ESIEE, Paris, France, in 1976 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from UCLA in 1977 and 1982, respectively.   He is currently a Professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department at University of California, Irvine.  Prior to joining UCI in 2002, he was a Professor of Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California since 1982.  His research interests include multithreaded architectures, fault-tolerant multiprocessors, and implementation of reconfigurable architectures.  He has published over 250 journal and conference papers.  His research has been sponsored by NSF, DoE, and DARPA, as well as industry.  He has served the community in various positions and was just elected to the presidency of the IEEE Computer Society for 2017. He is a Fellow of the IEEE and a Fellow of the AAAS.

Faculty Contact: Lawrence Rauchwerger (rwerger@cse.tamu.edu)