The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Basel has two open PhD or one Postdoc position in the field of Metamorphic Software / Mobile Code for Trustworthy Computing.
Information dissemination and processing have become hostile places: computers, networks and their operators cannot be trusted anymore, individually and combined, and are rightly seen as a threat. We want to reverse this situation and research communication paradigms and execution environments where users are put back in control. This requires alternatives to Internet-based networking (which is too easy for politicians or military adversaries to bring down), following decentralized operations principles, as well as code swarms that are not confined to today's similarly brittle conduits (e.g., app stores) and can defend themselves against malicious hosts. The end goal is to achieve the ideal of “Unstoppable Computation”: we want to ensure that computing can serve the same purpose as the movable-type printing press did for the Enlightenment so that ideas manifested in a computer system will unfold according to their own dynamics rather than being controlled from outside.
Our research is situated at the crossroad of active networking (code-carrying packets), trustworthy data structures (Secure Scuttlebutt's append-only logs) and cryptography (homomorphic encryption). Candidates for the open PhD positions should have a solid background in Computer Science and have excellent knowledge and knowhow in several of the following areas: computer networking and signaling (from data center and HPC networks to fountain codes), security (from proof-carrying code to CPU enclaves), operating system kernels (from NIC to shared memory and kernel bypasses), compilers and virtual machines, or in CRDT algorithms and related data structures.
Successful candidates are expected to contribute to and help shape the green field research of metamorphic software that can shift its form and execution places when under attack. The PhD candidates will also help on teaching duties for the related courses of Computer Architecture and Trusted Computing, Foundations of Distributed Systems, Introduction to Internet and Security, and Computer Networks.
A PostDoc with a strong and relevant track record may also be considered instead of PhDs. In this case, help with the teaching load will be expected as well.
Funding for positions is secured for four years.
In the Computer Networking Group, PhD students are given significant freedom in articulating the research questions they will work on, under the umbrella of the metamorphic software theme, to find interesting questions whose answers will significantly advance the state-of-the-art using their unique perspective and skillset. The research philosophy in the lab emphasizes individual autonomy, collaboration as peers, mutual listening, and hands on implementation by all lab members. Unexpected detours with working prototypes are encouraged to obtain fresh and original perspectives. Ph.D. students will be mentored (but not micro-managed!) both by Prof. Dr. Tschudin and Post-Doc Researcher Dr. Erick Lavoie to help them become independent thinkers and researchers.
PhD positions: A Master's degree (or equivalent) in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, or Mathematics, and a Master Thesis in one of the topical areas mentioned above. You don't need to already master all those fields, you will develop the relevant expertise in the course of your Ph.D. You do need to feel comfortable enough in at least one of them at a level sufficient to eventually produce original work. Experience in carrying out research projects independently and writing scientific articles will be considered a plus; must be fluent in English (oral and written).
PostDoc Position: A PhD thesis in one of the topical areas mentioned above, experience with the scientific publication process and the academic teaching environment (tutor supervision); must be fluent in English (oral and written). Lecturing options can be arranged.
Speaking German is not required.
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