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Formal methods PhD student crosses the pond

After spending the last eight years with the Department of Computer Science, firstly as a Systems Engineering undergraduate, then a Masters Student and finally a PhD researcher, Nick Papanikolaou has joined the e-Security team across the pond in the International Digital Laboratory. In this article we look at how his time with DCS prepared him for his current role and also what collaboration might be achieved between the e-Security group and his former colleagues at DCS.

During his PhD, Nick worked on applications of Formal Methods to communication systems and cryptographic protocols which arise in quantum information theory. In collaboration with Professor Rajagopal Nagarajan (DCS) and Simon Gay of the University of Glasgow he developed a framework for analyzing quantum communication protocols using model checking techniques. This ground breaking work has been presented at numerous meetings and conferences in both the UK and abroad and has led to some highly respected publications.

Nick's work in automated verification and security protocols is of direct relevance to the project he is currently involved in at the Digital Laboratory. Although the emphasis is on classical communication systems, Nick believes there is a degree of scope for integrating ideas from his PhD with certain aspects of the new project. He is convinced that the knowledge he gained during his doctorate (due to be completed shortly) will be of direct assistance to his current investigations.

One of the major projects Nick and his team are working on involves the design of a security infrastructure that gives individuals complete control over the distribution of their personal data. Assuming organisations have all signed up to this privacy regulating framework then controlling the flow personal data could be likened to controlling the flow of water through a tap. The mechanisms for enabling control of personal information, giving consent and revocation abilities is initially envisaged for corporate users, however, the flexibility of the infrastructure means there is the potential later on for consumers to gain access to the technology as well.

In terms of collaboration between the e-Security group and the Department of Computer Science, Nick is firstly keen to emphasise how strong relationships built up during his PhD studies provide an excellent basis from which to build a significant partnership between the two organisations.


Nick standing across the pond from his former home

In the short term Nick can envisage input to e-Security from the formal verification, systems modelling, game theory and automated analysis groups within computer science. In terms of benefits from such collaboration, Nick believes these include more links with industry as well as increased exposure within the digital laboratory.

Nick also envisages a number of tasks derived from his group forming the basis of 3rd and 4th year student projects. The e-Security group would act either as the client or in certain circumstances may even take on the role of actual supervisor thereby forging even closer links with the department. At present there are six members of the group and Nick welcomes the possibility of joint funding applications by e-Security and DCS.

If you would like further information about the research that is being undertaken by the e-Security group you can access their website here or to ask specific questions regarding collaboration please feel free to contact Nick at N dot Papanikolaou at warwick dot ac dot uk

DCS News would like to thank Dr Nick Papanikolaou for his valuable time to help develop this article