Research Associate in Compositional Reasoning for High-Assurance Many-Core Software

Job summary

We are looking to hire a motivated Research Associate to join IRIS: Interface Reasoning for Interacting Systems - an exciting new EPSRC-funded Programme Grant led by University College London, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and the London School of Economics. The goal of the IRIS project is to study and devise novel approaches for analysing large systems in a scalable manner via reasoning at the level of...

Job listing information

  • Reference ENG00364
  • Date posted 31 May 2018
  • Closing date 1 July 2018

Job description

Job summary

We are looking to hire a motivated Research Associate to join IRIS: Interface Reasoning for Interacting Systems - an exciting new EPSRC-funded Programme Grant led by University College London, Imperial College London, Queen Mary University of London and the London School of Economics. The goal of the IRIS project is to study and devise novel approaches for analysing large systems in a scalable manner via reasoning at the level of inter-component interfaces. The current post at Imperial College London will be jointly supervised by Dr Alastair Donaldson (Department of Computing) and Dr John Wickerson (Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, EEE), and will focus on reasoning about software designed to run on many-core architectures and other highly parallel accelerators. There will be a special focus on high-assurance software that needs to leverage many-core technology due to performance constraints, and yet which needs to be highly reliable.

Imperial’s Computing and EEE departments are both leading departments in their respective subjects among UK Universities, and have consistently been awarded the highest research rating from the Higher Education Funding Council. The 2014 REF assessment ranked the Department of Computing third (first in the Research Intensity table published by The Times Higher), and the EEE department first for research in the country’s EEE sector.

Reasoning about many-core software is challenging for various reasons, including the state-space explosion that arises due to interleaving of concurrent components, the subtle relaxed memory semantics of modern architectures and programming languages, and the difficulty of automated testing in the face of the nondeterminism that arises from both of these concerns. As part of the IRIS project we will focus on making both theoretical and practical advances in reasoning capabilities for many-core software, following various lines of inquiry including (but not limited to):
• Specification-based conformance testing. For example: can a concurrent program’s pre- and post-conditions be used to automatically generate conformance tests to check that an implementation meets its specification?
• Composition of memory models. For example: if a GPU, an FPGA accelerator and an ordinary processor all have access to the same memory locations, as they do on modern system-on-chip devices, what guarantees can programmers rely on?
• Validation of many-core compilers. For example: can automated program generation techniques for testing compilers be extended and combined with systematic concurrency testing techniques to check that many-core code is compiled correctly?
• Refinement-based parallel program construction. For example, can the common practice of deriving a high performance parallel program via a series of equivalent, increasingly optimised program variants be formalised and mechanised to allow automated exploration of the space of equivalent-by-construction implementations?
The techniques we develop will be evaluated on case studies stemming from the academic and industrial partners of the IRIS project, with a particular focus on high-performance implementations of security- and safety-critical functions, e.g. arising in cryptography or machine vision.

Duties and responsibilities

The successful candidate will work with the investigators at Imperial to conduct original research in areas relevant to the IRIS project (including for example some of the research areas outlined above), and will collaborate with the investigators and researchers involved in the IRIS project more broadly to amplify the technical depth and potential impact of the work. In addition to frequent research meetings at Imperial, the candidate will attend regular IRIS project meetings to engage with the other academic and industrial partners, and will present work arising from the project at international meetings.

Essential requirements

The breadth of the project allows for flexibility in the profile of applicants, ranging from applicants with backgrounds in formal methods or programming languages theory who are interested in applying fundamental theory to challenging engineering problems, to applicants with a background in system-building who are interested in how to reason about systems. All applicants require the following:
• a strong computing background;
• experience either in working on state-of-the-art theoretical frameworks for program reasoning (such as program logics), or building and working with practical verification/testing tools;
• a desire to learn about many-core systems in detail;
• a strong research track record and publications in a relevant area with an ambition to lead high-quality research; and
• excellent verbal and written communication skills.
The successful applicant will have, or be near to completing, a PhD (or equivalent) in an area pertinent to the subject area.

Further information

Candidates who have not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as Research Assistant within the salary range £32,380 to £34,040 per annum.

For informal inquiries about this position please contact Dr Alastair Donaldson or Dr John Wickerson. For further information on their research interests see http://multicore.doc.ic.ac.uk and http://johnwickerson.github.io.

In addition to completing the online application, candidates should attach:
· A full CV, with a list of all publications
· A two-page research statement indicating what you see are interesting research issues relating to the above post and why your expertise is relevant
· Transcripts of all degree results

Should you have any queries regarding the application process please contact jo.day@imperial.ac.uk

Documents

About Imperial College London

Imperial College London is the UK’s only university focussed entirely on science, engineering, medicine and business and we are consistently rated in the top 10 universities in the world.

You will find our main London campus in South Kensington, with our hospital campuses located nearby in West and North London. We also have Silwood Park in Berkshire and state-of-the-art facilities in development at our major new campus in White City.

We work in a multidisciplinary and diverse community for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle the big global challenges our complex world faces.

It’s our mission to achieve enduring excellence in all that we do for the benefit of society – and we are looking for the most talented people to help us get there.

Additional information

Please note that job descriptions cannot be exhaustive and the post-holder may be required to undertake other duties, which are broadly in line with the above key responsibilities.

All Imperial employees are expected to follow the 7 principles of Imperial Expectations: 

  • Champion a positive approach to change and opportunity
  • Communicate regularly and effectively within, and across, teams
  • Consider the thoughts and expectations of others
  • Deliver positive outcomes
  • Encourage inclusive participation and eliminate discrimination
  • Develop and grow skills and expertise
  • Work in a planned and managed way 

In addition to the above, employees are required to observe and comply with all College policies and regulations.

Imperial College is committed to equality of opportunity, to eliminating discrimination and to creating an inclusive working environment. We are an Athena SWAN Silver award winner, a Stonewall Diversity Champion, a Disability Confident Employer and work in partnership with GIRES to promote respect for trans people.