UTCS Colloquia - Dr. Ben Zorn, Principal Researcher and Research Manager, RiSE group, Microsoft Research, "Synthesis and Security in a World of Devices and Services"

Contact Name: 
Cayetana Garcis
GDC 6.302
Feb 3, 2014 9:30am - 10:30am

Signup Schedule: http://apps.cs.utexas.edu/talkschedules/cgi/list_events.cgi

Talk Audience: UTCS Faculty, Grads, Undergrads, Other Interested Parties

Host:  Keshav K Pingali

Talk Abstract: The proliferation of devices has significantly changed how software is developed, who uses it, and how it behaves.  The Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) group in Microsoft Research in Redmond is chartered with recognizing and responding to these new problems and opportunities with agility.   As co-manager of the group (with Tom Ball), I am confronted with important technical problems that product groups face every day.   My talk will present a sampling of such problems and focus on broad strategies that RiSE is using to tackle them.   One of the important conclusions about modern software engineering is that developers are not the only beneficiaries of our research.   While formal methods have been used to verify complex software systems and find bugs, the same techniques can provide benefit across many science and engineering disciplines.   Likewise, while most consumers have no knowledge of programming or programming languages, they all have complex and repetitive tasks that benefit from automation and program synthesis techniques.   In joint work with Sumit Gulwani, we have explored how semi-structured data present in spreadsheets can be converted into well-formed relational tables by end users.  Finally, the standardization of the web through HTML5 and JavaScript represents an enormous shift in the way that software, data, and experiences are delivered to users.  In particular, users fully trust program content in the form of JavaScript from unknown sources to be delivered to their devices and executed every time they visit a web page.  Unfortunately, web-based malware is a reality that requires constant vigilance to combat.  In joint work with Ben Livshits, we have developed a series of research efforts (Nozzle/Zozzle/Rozzle) to detect the presence of JavaScript-based malware and protect users.   I will discuss how our techniques have been used to find thousands of malicious websites in practice.

Speaker Bio: Ben Zorn is a Principal Researcher and co-manager of the Research in Software Engineering (RiSE) group at Microsoft Research in Redmond, Washington.  After receiving a PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 1989, he served eight years on the Computer Science faculty at the University of Colorado in Boulder, receiving tenure and being promoted to Associate Professor in 1996.  He left the University of Colorado in 1998 to join Microsoft Research, where he currently works.  Ben’s research interests include programming language design and implementation for performance, reliability, and security.  He has served as an Associate Editor of the ACM journals Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems and Transactions on Architecture and Code Optimization, a Member-at-Large of the SIGPLAN Executive Committee, and as the Steering Committee Chair for the Code Generation and Optimization (CGO) Conference.    He has served as both Program Chair (1999) and General Chair (2010) of PLDI and currently serves on the ACM Software Systems Award Committee.

For more information, visit his web page at http://research.microsoft.com/~zorn/.