terriko: I am a serious academic (Twlight Sparkle looking confused) (Serious Academic)
When I used to do research on spam, I wound up spending a lot of time listening to people's little pet theories. One that came up plenty was "oh, I just never post my email address on the internet" which is fine enough as a strategy depending on what you do, but is rather infeasible for academics who want to publish, as custom says we've got to put our email addresses on the paper. This leads to a lot of really awesome contacts with other researchers around the world, but sometimes it leads to stuff like the email I got today:


Dear Terri,

As stated by the Carleton University's electronic repository, you authored the work entitled "Simple Security Policy for the Web" in the framework of your postgraduate degree.

We are currently planning publications in this subject field, and we would be glad to know whether you would be interested in publishing the above mentioned work with us.

LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing is a member of an international publishing group, which has almost 10 years of experience in the publication of high-quality research works from well-known institutions across the globe.

Besides producing printed scientific books, we also market them actively through more than 80,000 booksellers.

Kindly confirm your interest in receiving more detailed information in this respect.

I am looking forward to hearing from you.


Best regards,
Sarah Lynch
Acquisition Editor

LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing is a trademark of OmniScriptum
GmbH & Co. KG

Heinrich-Böcking-Str. 6-8, 66121, Saarbrücken, Germany
s.lynch(at)lap-publishing.com / www. lap-publishing .com

Handelsregister Amtsgericht Saarbrücken HRA 10356
Identification Number (Verkehrsnummer): 13955
Partner with unlimited liability: VDM Management GmbH
Handelsregister Amtsgericht Saarbrücken HRB 18918
Managing director: Thorsten Ohm (CEO)


Well, I guess it's better than the many mispelled emails I get offering to let me buy a degree (I am *so* not the target audience for that, thanks), and at least it's not incredibly crappy conference spam. In fact, I'd never heard of this before, so I did a bit of searching.

Let's just post a few of the summaries from that search:

From wikipedia:
The Australian Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) explicitly excludes the books by VDM Verlag and Lambert Academic Publishing from ...


From the well-titled Lambert Academic Publishing (or How Not to Publish Your Thesis):
Lambert Academic Publishing (LAP) is an imprint of Verlag Dr Muller (VDM), a publisher infamous for selling cobbled-together "books" made ...


And most amusingly, the reason I've included the phrase "academic spam" in the title:
I was contacted today by a representative of Lambert Academic Publishing requesting that I change the title of my blog post "Academic Spam", ...


So yeah, no. My thesis is already published, thanks, and Simple Security Policy for the Web is freely available on the web for probably obvious reasons. I never did convert the darned thing to html, though, which is mildly unfortunate in context!
terriko: (Pi)
Ages ago, I thought it would be a brilliant idea to write up stuff on the papers I read, much like I do book reviews, but then I promptly... didn't do it. But it's a new year with new papers, and here's the first for this year's seminar.

small toad
Photo: small toad by Scott* (Because tiny toads are adorable and compiler papers notes don't lend themselves to obvious illustration)

Superoptimizer -- A Look at the Smallest Program
Henry Massalin
1987

This is a neat little paper about optimizing assembly code. They took a program and then had the computer try to generate the smallest possible functionally equivalent version. The paper is super short and readable and filled with lots of very clever adding of registers and stuff to avoid program jumps and comparisons. They could get it to optimize only fairly small programs (12 lines of assembly), but it still seemed like a lot of these would be useful compiler optimizations and they're probably in use now.

Anyhow, it's three pages of explanation + two pages of cool examples they found, so if you're looking for a fun little bit of computing to read about to fill out some mind-expanding new year's resolution, this is an easy place to start.

Some questions we had in seminar that I don't know the answers to:

- What was the impact of this paper on modern compilers?
- Do we do any of this while compiling, or make use of the things they found in a preset kind of way?
- Has anyone tried to do this using modern computers / other assembly instruction sets?
- It seemed like there was a lot of adding... would it be possible to make reduced assembly instruction sets on the assumption that they will never be programmed by humans and thus can be super-optimal?
terriko: (Default)
You may have seen this article on Peter G. Neumann: Killing the Computer to Save It. It was making the rounds a few weeks ago. (Note that you can read NYT articles without logging in if you turn on temporary cookies and then click the link.)

In case you were curious or maybe thought some of that sounded familiar, that is indeed the same DARPA grant that drew me to the US for this postdoc. I'm on CRASH or "Clean-Slate Design of Resilient Adaptive Secure Hosts." The article has a short mention of the stuff we're doing:

Clean Slate is financing research to explore how to design computer systems that are less vulnerable to computer intruders and recover more readily once security is breached.

Dr. Shrobe argues that because the industry is now in a fundamental transition from desktop to mobile systems, it is a good time to completely rethink computing. But among the biggest challenges is the monoculture of the computer “ecosystem” of desktop, servers and networks, he said.

“Nature abhors monocultures, and that’s exactly what we have in the computer world today,” said Dr. Shrobe. “Eighty percent are running the same operating system.”

Lessons From Biology

To combat uniformity in software, designers are now pursuing a variety of approaches that make computer system resources moving targets. Already some computer operating systems scramble internal addresses much the way a magician might perform the trick of hiding a pea in a shell. The Clean Slate project is taking that idea further, essentially creating software that constantly shape-shifts to elude would-be attackers.

That the Internet enables almost any computer in the world to connect directly to any other makes it possible for an attacker who identifies a single vulnerability to almost instantly compromise a vast number of systems.

But borrowing from another science, Dr. Neumann notes that biological systems have multiple immune systems — not only are there initial barriers, but a second system consisting of sentinels like T cells has the ability to detect and eliminate intruders and then remember them to provide protection in the future.

In contrast, today’s computer and network systems were largely designed with security as an afterthought, if at all.


That barely touches on all the cool stuff we're doing, since the article isn't exactly about our work at UNM & UVA, but it was pretty neat to see it in the news.
terriko: (Default)
So, it turns out that not only do I dislike half the samples I can find online of good philosophy of teaching statements, I also hate everything I write on that front. But the deadline is today and my references have already sent in their letters, so I think I've just got to suck it up and submit what I have.

I am, however, pleased with the ideas in this paragraph on failure:

But perhaps the biggest lesson was about failure: Many students seemed to believe that any failure was a sign of fundamental, unfixable inadequacy, and this was especially toxic to the women and other minority students who were more likely to feel like imposters. But many self-taught programmers learn through experimentation and repeated failure, so we encouraged students to do this in tutorials and even celebrated ridiculous bugs together by encouraging the students to share them and help each other debug. The students who had difficulties at the beginning could see other students failing and then succeeding, and the change in their confidence levels was noticeable, as was the resulting change in what they attempted and what they achieved.


That's a little piece of what made teaching tutorials such a different experience from lecturing, and something I really loved watching happen every year.
terriko: I am a serious academic (Twlight Sparkle looking confused) (Serious Academic)
A while ago, I saw a mention in a UNM newsletter about Google Scholar profiles and decided to give it a try. Like many people in my field, I already keep a list of publications on my website, but this had graphs! Citation counts! I wasn't too sure about this whole social-media-for-researchers aspects, but I like graphs.

I had totally forgotten about it 'till a few days ago when I got a reminder email, and upon looking at my profile I was pleased to see that my very first paper now has 60 citations. Sixty!

For context, the average citation rate in computer science was 3.75 from the period 2000-2010 (Source: Times Higher Education), and even the average citation rate for science in general was 10.81. So 60 seems awesome, even if average may be a weird number for something that I know is a power law distribution. Still, go me! I've got a few above-average papers, mostly the spam work (I was the first to apply artificial immunology to the spam problem, so subsequent people working in that space generally cite me) but I notice that SOMA's almost made it up to 30 citations, and that's the first of my papers in the web space.

It's still a pretty modest accomplishment in the grand scheme of things. Check out Paul's list or Steph's list if you want to feel small, but those are both totally amazing, exceptional people who run whole labs. For my weight class as a newly minted PhD, I'm happy enough, but I need to do more...

So now to take that pride and turn it into a totally awesome, citation-worthy paper summing up my remaining thesis work!
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