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Computer Science Seminars and Short Courses

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  • If the room is KE LT3, "Ken Edwards LT3", be aware that the entrance is hidden on the left hand side when you walk towards the main entrance of Ken Edwards. Don't go to the main entrance: there is no indication there of where LT3 is ...

Semester 2, 2012/13

Seminar programme


Seminar details

On the Correctness of the SIMT Execution Model of GPUs

Alexander Knapp (University of Augsburg)
Fri, 1 Feb, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Alexander Kurz)

GPUs are becoming a primary resource of computing power. They use a single instruction, multiple threads (SIMT) execution model that executes batches of threads in lockstep. If the control flow of threads within the same batch diverges, the different execution paths are scheduled sequentially; once the control flows reconverge, all threads are executed in lockstep again. Several thread batching mechanisms have been proposed, albeit without establishing their semantic validity or their scheduling properties. To increase the level of confidence in the correctness of GPU-accelerated programs, we formalize the SIMT execution model for a stack-based reconvergence mechanism in an operational semantics and prove its correctness by constructing a simulation between the SIMT semantics and a standard interleaved multi-thread semantics. We briefly discuss an implementation of the semantics in the K framework and a formalization of the correctness proof in the theorem prover KIV. We also demonstrate that the SIMT execution model produces unfair schedules in some cases.


Coinduction, Equilibrium and Rationality of Escalation

Pierre Lescanne (Ecole Normale Superieure de Lyon)
Fri, Feb 8, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Alexander Kurz)

Escalation is the behavior of players who play forever in the same game. Such a situation can happen in automatic systems for auction and negotiation as developed in electronic commerce and, tightly associated with infinite games, it is a typical field for application of coinduction which is the tool conceived for reasoning in infinite mathematical structures. In particular, we use coinduction to study formally the game called --dollar auction--, which is considered as the paradigm of escalation. Unlike what is admitted since 1971, we show that, provided one assumes that the other agent will always stop, bidding is rational, because it results in a subgame perfect equilibrium. We show that this is not the only rational strategy profile (the only subgame perfect equilibrium). Indeed if an agent stops and will stop at every step, whereas the other agent keeps bidding, we claim that he is rational as well because this corresponds to another subgame perfect equilibrium. In the infinite dollar auction game, despite of the dogma, the behavior in which both agents stop at each step is not a Nash equilibrium, hence is not a subgame perfect equilibrium, hence is not rational. Happily, the notion of rationality based on coinduction one obtains fits with common sense and experience. Finally the possibility of a rational escalation in an arbitrary game can be expressed as a predicate on games and the rationality of escalation in the dollar auction game can be proved as a theorem. We even check the correctness in the proof in the proof assitant COQ. In this talk we will recall the principles of infinite extensive games, presented in the framework of coinduction, then the concept of equilibrium (Nash equilibrium, subgame perfect equilibrium). We will show how one can prove that the two strategy profiles presented above are equilibria and how this leads to a "rational" escalation in the dollar auction.


When Computer Chess meets Science

Soren Riis (Queen Mary, University of London)
Fri, 15th Feb, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Alexander Kurz)

In 1997 Deep Blue won a six-game match against world champion Garry Kasparov where Deep Blue according to Kasparov showed sign of "human intelligence" and he suggested foul play through human intervention. How was it possible that a number cruncher like Deep Blue could produce "real intelligence"?

How far are computers from playing chess at a perfect level? In the talk new and surprising answers to this question will be discussed. The talk gives examples of how chess computers have revolutionised ordinary endgame theory. In the talk, I will also discuss interesting limitations in game-playing computers. Do these limitations highlight the uniqueness of human intelligence?

The talk will also relate Computer Chess to topics like innovation, reverse engineering, incentives to copy, market leadership, and other currently important concepts.

The talk is aimed at a general audience who is interested in understanding automated reasoning, as well as the limits and strengths of human intelligence.


Is there always an algorithm? An introduction to computability theory

Rick Thomas (University of Leicester)
Fri, Feb 22, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Alexander Kurz)

Computability theory is concerned with the following type of question: given a problem, does there exist an algorithm to solve that problem? This is of fundamental importance in computing; there is no point trying to design an algorithm to solve a problem if no such algorithm exists! In this talk we will give a gentle introduction to computability theory. We will give some idea of the history of the subject, mentioning some of the key figures involved; as we will see, this sort of question preceded the modern computer. We will then give some examples of problems for which no algorithm exists.


Sex as Gibbs Sampling

Chris Watkins (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Fri, 1 March, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Alexander Kurz)

Can we find a model of evolution which is simple enough to analyse, and yet which may capture a significant part of evolution's remarkable computational power? Evolution is naturally modelled as a Markov chain, in which states are generations, and the state transitions are inherent in the procedures for breeding, selection, and mutation. Both natural evolution and most genetic algorithms implement irreversible Markov chains that are hard to analyse.

The main contribution outlined in this talk is to define a `sexual' evolutionary algorithm that is a reversible Markov chain (with detailed balance) for which the mutation-selection equilibrium can be defined explicitly as a Gibbs distribution with a readily computable energy function.

These ideas are fairly simple: it is perhaps odd that genetic algorithms were not originally defined in this way.

I will outline several unexpected research directions that flow from this work. One is that modern MCMC methods devised for Bayesian inference, can be applied to define Markov chains that provably converge to the same distribution, but which may mix faster than Gibbs sampling. (One might call these `superevolutionary' algorithms.)

I will also review some familiar, and perhaps some other unfamiliar evolutionary puzzles.


Tight Cell-Probe Bounds for Online Hamming Distance Computation

Benjamin Sach (University of Warwick)
Fri, March 8, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Rajeev Raman)

In this talk we will discuss recent work on time complexity lower bounds in the cell-probe model. The talk will start with an overview of the cell-probe model and a discussion of the main techniques for proving lower bounds in this model. Lower bounds in the cell-probe model also hold in many other models, including the widely-accepted RAM model. The main focus of the talk will be recent work where we showed tight bounds for online Hamming distance computation in the cell-probe model with word size w. The task is to output the Hamming distance between a fixed string of length n and the last n symbols of a stream. We give a lower bound of Omega((d/w)*log n) time on average per output, where d is the number of bits needed to represent an input symbol. We argue that this bound is tight within the model. The lower bound holds under randomisation and amortisation. This is joint work with Markus Jalsenius and Raphael Clifford from the University of Bristol, UK which appeared in SODA 2013.


The Art of Decision Making in Software Engineering

Joost Noppen (University of East Anglia)
Wed, March 13, 13:00 in David Wilson Library Seminar Room (Host: Ruzanna Chitchyan)

The development of software systems, as any other complex development process, is driven by decisions on all kinds of subjects, ranging from deciding how to interpret requirements and the budget that is available to which architecture to build and which languages and implementation platforms to use. Naturally good decisions lead to good software systems, but the question is how to make good decisions. And what exactly is a good decision, or a good software system for that matter? In this presentation I will examine decision making and how it is done in software engineering. In particular I will focus on the aspects that make it difficult to come to good decisions, such as partial knowledge, ambiguous information or a lack of experience and insight. I will tie this to research efforts in software engineering at the University of East Anglia to illustrate how we believe computational analysis of various types of information can support developers in their decision making.


An introduction to Homotopy Type Theory

Nicola Gambino (University of Palermo and University of Leeds)
Fri, March 15, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Alexander Kurz)

Type theories are the core of computer systems, such as Coq and Agda, that provide both a tool for computer-assisted formalisation of mathematics and an integrated environment for writing computer programs and verifying their correctness.

Research on type theories has received new impetus in recent years thanks to the discovery of fascinating connections with homotopy theory, a branch of pure mathematics concerned with the classification of spaces up to a suitable notion of similarity.

I will give an introduction to this area of research without assuming any knowledge of type theory or homotopy theory. In particular, I will explain how the connections between type theory and homotopy theory led to the formulation of Voevodsky's Univalent Foundations of Mathematics programme, a new approach to the computer-assisted development of mathematics in type theory.


Heterogeneous Asynchronous Networks of Timed Machines

Jose Fiadeiro (Royal Holloway)
Fri, May 17, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Alexander Kurz)

We present a component algebra for asynchronous networks of timed machines. A machine is a discrete timed input/output automa- ton that executes according to the clock granularity of the network node in which it is placed. We define a composition operator through which networks can be interconnected and investigate properties of such net- works, namely conditions that guarantee consistency and feasibility, i.e., that the interconnected machines can collectively generate a non-empty behaviour, no matter in what environment they are placed.


XML on the Web: Is it still relevant

O'Neil Delpratt (Saxonica)
Fri, May 31, 14:00 in BEN LT2 (Host: Rajeev Raman)

In this talk we discuss what it means by the term XML on the Web and how this relates to the browser. The success of XSLT in the browser has so far been underwhelming, and we examine the reasons for this and consider whether the situation might change. We describe the capabilities of the first XSLT 2.0 processor; namely Saxon Client Edition (Saxon-CE), which is designed to run within web browsers, bringing not just the extra capabilities of a new version of XSLT, but also a new way of thinking about how XSLT can be used to create interactive client-side applications.

We describe two use-case applications to illustrate the capabilities of Saxon-CE. The first is a technical documentation application, which permits browsing and searching in a intuitive way. We then present a multi-player chess game application; using the same XSLT 2.0 processor as the first application, it is in fact very different in purpose and design in that we provide multi-user interaction on the GUI and implement communication via a social media network: namely Twitter.


Coverage Analysis for Model Transformations

Jochen Kuester (IBM Research)
Fri, 14th June 2013, 11:00 in ATT 111 (Host: Reiko Heckel)

Model transformations are one important aspect of model-driven software engineering as they can be used for model evolution, model generation, model comparison, model migration and model refinement. As a consequence, the quality of model transformations must be systematically ensured. When developing a model transformation, a software engineer usually designs a test suite consisting of test cases where each test case consists of one or several models. In order to ensure a high quality of such a test suite, coverage achieved by the test cases with regards to the system under test must be systematically measured. Using results from coverage analysis, missing test cases and redundant test cases can be identified and thereby the quality of the test suite and the model transformation can be improved. In this talk, we present a coverage analysis approach for measuring test suite quality for model transformations and we also report on the Test Suite Analyzer tool which implements our approach.


Semester 1, 2012/13

The seminar programme for Semester 1 can be viewed here.

Author: Alexander Kurz (kurz mcs le ac uk), T: 0116 252 5356.
University of Leicester . Last modified: 22nd September 2013, 17:48:51.
Informatics Web Maintainer. This document has been approved by the Head of Department.