Academic Promotions

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Four members of staff from the School of Computing have had their success recognised with an academic promotion. Andy King has been promoted to Professor and Fred Barnes, Dominique Chu and Scott Owens have all been promoted to Senior Lecturer.

Professor Andy King is one of five new professors at the University of Kent.

‘My recent focus has been on cyber-security, with two threads of work. Firstly, I have been developing techniques for automating the classification of malware samples. Thousands of new samples are released each month, many of which are merely simple variants of existing malware. My work will help security engineers decide which samples warrant close scrutiny.

Secondly, I have been developing compositional techniques to detect when binary programs leak sensitive information, due to flaws in the way memory is recycled. The key challenge in this work is to recover sufficient structure from a binary program in order to modularise reasoning and scale these techniques to large codebases.’

Scott Owens has been at Kent for two years and has focused his research on formal verification of computer software.

‘Writing bug-free software has always been difficult, and to address this, there is a tradition in some domains (going back to the 1960s) of building rigorous mathematical proofs that safety critical programs really do what they are supposed to (and nothing else). However, in the past techniques for creating these proofs have often failed to scale. My goal is to demonstrate how modern approaches support complete, trustworthy proofs that address significantly larger software systems. In the CakeML (https://cakeml.org) project, I have been exploring what this all means in the context of a formally verified compiler, gearing up to answer the key question in this area: how can we move from verifying individual pieces of software in isolation (each a Herculean effort), to building verified systems using existing pieces of verified software.’

Fred Barnes’ research is centred around concurrent and parallel programming, addressing fundamental questions such as how we can build systems that scale on increasingly powerful hardware (multicore systems), and more importantly, ensuring that such systems operate as intended (verification).  Fred is also the lab archivist, maintaining a collection of old and interesting computer equipment, one of the directors of undergraduate studies, responsible for the school’s outreach programme and its open-days.

Dominique Chu’s research focuses on computational models of living systems and biocomplexity. He also regularly publishes on philosophy of science. He recently published book The Science Myth: God, society, the self and what we will never know, challenges the ‘culture war between science and religion.’ It questions if there is the fundamental difference between science and religion that popular culture would like us to believe and it takes the reader on an inside journey through science showing how scientific beliefs are made.

A full list of academic promotions in 2014, including comments by other newly promoted colleagues, will be available soon at kent.ac.uk/campusonline/promotions

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