11 July 2019
Dr Cristian Cadar has been awarded the BCS Roger Needham Award for 2019 sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge. The award has been made in recognition of his outstanding work in the field of Software Reliability.
Dr Cadar is a Reader in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, where he leads the Software Reliability Group. His research focuses on building practical techniques for improving the reliability and security of software systems, and spans the areas of software engineering, computer systems and security.
He has been chosen to receive the Award in recognition of his distinguished contribution through his pioneering work in dynamic symbolic execution (DSE). This is an influential program analysis technique used to explore and analyse program paths. DSE is used by the likes of Fujitsu, IBM and Microsoft to find errors and security vulnerabilities in complex software systems.
Dr Cadar’s contributions to DSE include the concept of mixed concrete-symbolic execution for improving scalability and enabling interaction with external code; the first bit-precise memory model for DSE which makes it possible to detect subtle bugs leading to security vulnerabilities; the design of effective heuristics for search space exploration; DSE-specific optimizations for speeding up constraint solving; path pruning and targeted transformations for improved scalability; and techniques for effective patch testing.
His work and international influence goes beyond DSE. He contributed to the failure-oblivious computing project at MIT for improving the resilience of software systems, one of the defining projects in the field of acceptability-oriented computing. He collaborated on the WIT project for runtime security at Microsoft Research, which has now been tech-transferred into Microsoft’s Visual Studio compiler. At Imperial, his team has played a significant role in the regeneration of the field of multi-version execution by proposing a decentralized architecture based on an in-memory ring buffer, which enables higher availability dynamic software updates and the deployment of dynamic analyses in production. His research has been previously recognized by several prestigious awards, including the EuroSys Jochen Liedtke Young Researcher Award, the HVC Award, the ACM SIGOPS Hall of Fame Award and the ACM CCS Test of Time Award.
Dr Cadar says of receiving the award: “I’m greatly honoured to receive the BCS Needham Award and am delighted to have my work recognised in this way. I am grateful to my research team, mentors and collaborators for making this research possible. I also find it heartening that software reliability techniques are receiving so much attention, as these techniques can help create safer and more secure software systems.”
Brendan Murphy, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Cambridge says: “Dr Cadar is a very deserving winner of the prestigious Roger Needham Award. The field of software engineering is a major growth area in computer science, with software companies making significant investment in engineering tools as they transition towards a more service orientated world. Dr. Cedar’s research focusing on the reliability and security of software development processes will assist the industry as they re-engineer their deployment processes.”
The Needham Award is decided each year by a distinguished panel of academics, chaired in 2019 by Prof. Steve Furber.
Prof. Steve Furber, Chair of BCS Academy Awards Committee adds: “I’m delighted to announce Dr Cristian Cadar as the worthy recipient of the Needham Award in recognition of his distinguished research contribution in computer science. His work will have a wide-ranging and lasting impact on society. His ground-breaking work is extremely innovative and affords important insights into the exciting area of Software Reliability.”
The Roger Needham Award is sponsored by Microsoft Research Cambridge and established in memory of Microsoft’s first director of research outside the US. It is awarded for a distinguished research contribution in computer science by a UK based researcher within ten years of their PhD.
Dr Cadar will give the Needham Lecture which will take place at The Royal Society this autumn.
Nominations for the 2020 award open on Monday 21 October 2019 and close on Friday 24 January 2020.