PDL News


December 2015
Federal Trade Commission Appoints Lorrie Cranor as Chief Technologist

Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez has appointed Lorrie Faith Cranor as the agency’s Chief Technologist, succeeding Ashkan Soltani. Cranor will join the FTC staff in January and be primarily responsible for advising Chairwoman Ramirez and the Commission on developing technology and policy matters.

Cranor is currently a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University, where she directs the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Laboratory. She was previously a researcher at AT&T Labs Research and has also taught at the Stern School of Business at New York University.

“Technology is playing an ever more important role in consumers’ lives, whether through mobile devices, personal fitness trackers, or the increasing array of Internet-connected devices we find in homes and elsewhere,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “We are delighted to welcome Lorrie to our team, where she will play a key role in helping guide the many areas of FTC work involving new technologies and platforms.

Cranor has authored over 150 research papers on online privacy and usable security, and has played a central role in establishing the usable privacy and security research community, including her founding of the Symposium on Usable Privacy and Security. She is also a co-director of Carnegie Mellon’s Privacy Engineering masters’ program.

Cranor holds a doctorate in Engineering and Policy, masters’ degrees in Computer Science, and Technology and Human Affairs, and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and Public Policy, from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them.
-- Dec. 3, 2015 FTC Press Release, Frank Dorman

September 2015
Jiaqi Tan Wins FMCAD Award!

Congratulations Jiaqi Tan, for winning the Best Contribution Award at the Student Forum for the Formal Methods in Computer-Aided Design (FMCAD), held at the University of Texas, in Austin, TX, for his Ph.D. thesis work on "White-box Software Isolation with Fully Automated Black-box Proofs."

September 2015
Best Paper Award at MobiArch!

Congratulations to Utsav Drolia, Nathan Mickulicz, Rajeev Gandhi, and Priya Narasimhan on receiving the Best-Paper Award at the 10th ACM Workshop on Mobility in the Evolving Internet Architecture (MobiArch), held in Paris, France in September 2015. Their paper "Krowd: A Key-Value Store for Crowded Venues" proposes a novel way of developing a mobile infrastructure "by the people, for the people," through mobile-cloud clusters formed from mobile devices inside high-density environments such as sports stadiums.

September 2015
New Faculty!

We welcome Phil Gibbons, as he joins CMU as a Professor in the Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering Departments. Most recently Phil was a P.I at the Intel Science and Technology Center for Cloud Computing (2011-2015) at CMU. Previous to this he was a researcher with the Intel Research Pittsburgh Lablet (2001-2011), the Information Sciences Research Center at Lucent Bell Laboratories (1996-2001), and the Mathematical Sciences Research Center at AT&T Bell Laboratories (1990-1996). His research areas include big data, parallel computing, databases, cloud computing, sensor networks, distributed systems and computer architecture. Phil received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley in 1989.

September 2015
Three PDL Faculty Recieve Google Faculty Research Awards

The Google Faculty Research Awards program aims to identify and support world-class, full-time faculty pursuing research in areas of mutual interest and are awarded twice a year. Congratulations to our three PDL faculty members who received the award for the Summer 2015 award term. Andy Pavlo's work will focus on distributed, in-memory database management systems, Mor Harchol-Balter will be researching “When Many Workloads Share Networked Storage: How to Guarantee Tail Latency SLOs” (Google), and Lorrie Cranor will focus her award on research in the Human-Computer Interaction area.

September 2015
Two PDL Faculty Recieve Facebook Faculty Awards

Congratulations to Andy Pavlo and Mor Harchol-Balter who each received a Facebook Faculty Award. Andy's research sponsored by the award will focus on distributed, in-memory database management systems. Mor will be investigating the “Performance Analysis and Design of Computer Systems.”

August 2015
Best Paper Award at SoCC!

Congratulations to Jinliang Wei and co-authors Wei Dai, Aurick Qiao, Qirong Ho, Henggang Cui, Gregory R. Ganger, Phillip B. Gibbons, Garth A. Gibson, and Eric P. Xing on winning one of two awards for Best Paper at the 2015 ACM Symposium on Cloud Computing, held on the Kohala Coast, HI. Their paper Managed Communication and Consistency for Fast Data-Parallel Iterative Analytics presents Bösen, a system that maximizes network communication efficiency under a given intermachine network bandwidth budget to minimize accumulated error, while ensuring theoretical convergence guarantees for large-scale data-parallel ML applications.

May 2015
NVIDIA Graduate Fellowship Winner

Congratulations to Gennady Pekhimenko on receiving an NVIDIA Graduate Fellowship. Recipients are selected based on their academic achievements, professor nomination, and area of research. Gennady's general research focus is on energy-efficient memory systems using hardware-based data compression. He discovered a series of mechanisms that exploit the existing redundancy in applications’ data to perform efficient compression in caches and main memory, thereby providing higher effective capacity and higher available bandwidth across the memory hierarchy. His most recent work is looking into how to perform energy-efficient bandwidth compression for modern GPUs. Gennady is advised by he is advised by Todd Mowry and Onur Mutlu.

May 2015
Alexey Tumanov Receives ECE's Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award

Congratulations to Alexey for receiving ECE's Outstanding Graduate Student Teaching Assistant Award for his efforts on 15-719: Advanced Cloud Computing, taught by Garth Gibson and Majd Sakr during the fall semester of 2014. In their letter of nomination Professors Sakr and Gibson cited Alexey’s hard work, innovation, and commitment to student success, describing it as “unparalleled”. Alexey “went way beyond the call of duty, supported the students with a pleasant constructive engagement style and built a project [that] will certainly [be] reused next year.”

During the semester, Alexey developed the end-of-term course project, where the students were guided to build their own virtualized clusters and cluster schedulers on the brand new PRObE cluster called NOME. In the words of one of the students: "[Alexey was] extremely helpful and responsive. [We] had a lot of one-on-one discussions, which led to interesting insights and learning. [He] was very supportive of ideas and any issues faced. [He] strived hard to get the essence of the project into the students and drive the phases towards that goal. Probably my best project at CMU."
-- with info from D. Marculescu's award presentation notes.

April 2015
Garth Gibson Appointed Associate Dean for Master’s Programs

Congratulations to Garth, who has been made Associate Dean for Master’s Programs! Dean of Computer Science, Andrew Moore, says "the role of the Associate Dean for Master’s Programs is to help coordinate and facilitate the school’s mission to produce the very best master’s students in the world in our disciplines, and show the ways for other universities to do this. This applies across all types of master’s programs: research, academic, and professional. Garth is well-suited to the job: he has a history of making all kinds of organizations successful, and through his co-leadership (along with Eric Nyberg and Majd Sakr) of the Masters in Computational Data Science (founded originally by Anthony Tomasic) has been a very strong contributor within SCS’s suite of existing masters programs."

March 2015
PDL Ph.D. Student Receives Best Presentation Award at HiPEAC

Justin Meza received one of the two Best Presentation Awards at the 10th HiPEAC (High Performance and Embedded Architecture and Compilation) conference. The HiPEAC conference is the premier European forum for experts in computer architecture, programming models, compilers and operating systems for embedded and general-purpose systems. The presented paper, titled "Efficient Data Mapping and Buffering Techniques for Multi-Level Cell Phase-Change Memories", is co-authored with ECE’s Onur Mutlu, alum HanBin Yoon and researchers from Google.

March 2015
Onur Mutlu Receives Google Faculty Research Award

Congratulations to Onur on receiving a Google Faculty Research Award. Google Research Awards are one-year awards structured as unrestricted gifts to universities to support the work of world-class full-time faculty members at top universities around the world. The intent of the Google Research Awards is to support cutting-edge research in Computer Science, Engineering, and related fields.

This Faculty Award is to support Professor Mutlu's research in the area of novel computer memory systems. Mutlu has been examining new memory architectures and interfaces with the goal of enabling low-cost and energy-efficient computation near data. His related research develops both new hardware substrates and software interfaces to perform computation in or close to memory as well as software techniques that can take better advantage of such new substrates and interfaces. A recent overview of Mutlu's research can be found here.
--info from ECE News and

February 2015
Justin Meza Google 2015 PhD Fellowship Recipient

We would like to congratulate Justin Meza, for being selected to receive a Google US/Canada Fellowship for his work in Systems Reliability!

In 2009, Google created the PhD Fellowship program to recognize and support outstanding graduate students doing exceptional work in Computer Science (CS) and related disciplines. In that time we’ve seen past recipients add depth and breadth to CS by developing new ideas and research directions, from building new intelligence models to changing the way in which we interact with computers to advancing into faculty positions, where they go on to train the next generation of researchers.
--, Feb. 18, 2015

January 2015
Chad Dougherty CIT's Rookie of the Year!

The College of Engineering held its annual Staff Awards ceremony last week honoring exceptional staff. Congratulations to Chad Dougherty, a Principle Research Programmer with PDL, on winning CIT's Rookie of the Year Staff Award! Winners of the Rookie award are selected from members who have been a part of CIT for six months to two years as of November 1 in the nomination year, and excellence in the areas of job performance, dedication, positive attitude and contributions as a team player.

January 2015
Lorrie Cranor an ACM Fellow

Lorrie Faith Cranor, a professor in the Institute for Software Research and director of the CyLab Usable Privacy and Security Lab, is one of 47 computer scientists named as 2014 Fellows by the Association for Computing Machinery.

Cranor is a professor of computer science and of engineering and public policy and is co-director of the Privacy Engineering masters program. She was cited by the ACM for her contributions to research and education in usable privacy and security. Cranor has played a key role in building the usable privacy and security research community, having co-edited the seminal book Security and Usability (O'Reilly 2005) and founded the Symposium On Usable Privacy and Security (SOUPS). She has authored over 100 research papers on online privacy, usable security, and other topics, served on numerous boards, and has testified about privacy issues before Congress. She joined the CMU in faculty in 2003 after seven years at AT&T Labs-Research.

ACM President Alexander L. Wolf acknowledged the advances made by Cranor and the other newly named ACM Fellows. “Our world has been immeasurably improved by the impact of their innovations,” he said. “We recognize their contributions to the dynamic computing technologies that are making a difference to the study of computer science, the community of computing professionals, and the countless consumers and citizens who are benefiting from their creativity and commitment.” ACM will formally recognize the 2014 Fellows at its annual Awards Banquet in June in San Francisco.
-- Cylab News


November 2014
Best Paper at Supercomputing 2014

Congratulations to Kai Ren, Qing Zheng, Swapnil Patil, and Garth Gibson, who recieved the best paper award at Supercomputing 2014 for their work on "IndexFS: Scaling File System Metadata Performance with Stateless Caching and Bulk Insertion." The paper was chosen from among 84 papers and 394 submissions; the conference hosted 10160 attendees.

The paper, slides and code release are available at

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