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[Colloquium] Dependable Distributed Computing at AT&T Labs Research

November 13, 2008

Watch Colloquium:

Quicktime file (448 Megs)
AVI file (669 Megs)

  • Date: Thursday, November 13th, 2008 
  • Time: 3:30 pm — 5:00 pm
  • Place: DSH 233

Mary Fernandez
AT&T Labs Research University of New Mexico

Abstract: In the Dependable Distributed Computing Research group at AT&T Labs Research, our research focusses on understanding and improving the performance, reliability, security, and management of networks and distributed systems. Despite this broad charter, our many projects share a common philosophy of using formal methods to model and analyze networks and distributed systems and of using declarative languages to specify and implement them. This philosophy yields practical benefits: High-level programming abstractions are semantically transparent, permit static analysis, and result in more secure and reliable systems.

In this talk, I will give an overview of the research in our department, including our work in VoIP and secure overlay networks. I will then focus on Yakker, a tool for generating application-specific firewalls. Yakker firewalls examine network protocol messages that are the inputs to network servers and filters out malformed messages as well as other messages that can trigger, for example, buffer overflows. The novelty of Yakker is that it is highly automated, producing a simple firewall directly from existing human-readable specifications, namely, the “Request for Comments” documents that define most of the basic protocols of the Internet.

Bio: Mary Fernandez is Executive Director of Dependable Distributed Computing Research at AT&T Labs Research. Her own research sits at the juncture of database systems and programming languages and focuses on domain-specific languages for data management in centralized and distributed environments. She has published more than 30 articles in leading conferences and journals. In addition, she is co-editor of several World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) recommendations, is Secretary of ACM SIGMOD, is an advisory council member of MentorNet (, and is a former associate editor of ACM Transactions on Database Systems.