PEDS Research Group

I am a member of the PEDS (Performance Evaluation of Distributed Systems) Research Group at WPI, one of many research groups in the department. The group consists of faculty (Professors Agu, Claypool, Kinicki are also actively involved in this group) and students (mostly graduate). We meet weekly to discuss the work we are doing as well as discuss current research in the larger research community. Topics include distributed systems, networking, operating systems and other related issues.

Privacy on the Web

This work seeks to measure and understand privacy leakage on the Web while investigating techniques to prevent it.

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In the News

Jennifer Valentino-Devries and Jeremy Singer-Vine. They know what you're shopping for. Wall Street Journal, December 7 2012.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324784404578143144132736214.html.

Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. News release: Popular websites in canada disclosing personal information, September 25 2012.
http://www.priv.gc.ca/media/nr-c/2012/nr-c_120925_e.asp.

Byron Acohido. Web tracking has become a privacy time bomb. USA Today, August 3 2011.
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2011-08-03-internet-tracking-mobile-privacy_n.htm.

Sruthi Krishnan. How your visits to sites are tracked. The Hindu, December 25 2010.
http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/article979254.ece.

Ira Flatow. Internet privacy: Who's tracking you online? National Public Radio Science Friday, December 17, 2010.
http://www.sciencefriday.com/program/archives/201012171.

Byron Acohido and Jon Swartz. Do not track could revolutionize online ad industry. USA Today, December 13 2010.
http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2010-12-13-1Adonottrack13_CV_N.htm.

Geoffrey A. Fowler and Emily Steel. Myspace, apps leak user data. Wall Street Journal, October 23 2010.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303738504575568460409331560.html.

Julia Angwin. The web's new gold mine: Your secrets. Wall Street Journal, July 30 2010.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703940904575395073512989404.html.

Bill Snyder. You are here: Scary new location privacy risks. CIO, June 28 2010.
http://www.cio.com/article/598004/You_Are_Here_Scary_New_Location_Privacy_Risks.

Rebecca Myles. Radio interview on wbai evening news. WBAI, Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM in New York City, May 26 2010.
http://archive.wbai.org/.

Michael Hiltzik. Is your privacy secure online? there's no way to tell. Los Angeles Times, June 06 2010.
http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jun/06/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20100606.

Scott Duke Harris. Facebook overhaul simplifies privacy controls. San Jose Mercury News, May 27 2010.
http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_15165970?nclick_check=1.

Rebecca Myles. Radio interview on wbai evening news. WBAI, Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM in New York City, May 26 2010.
http://archive.wbai.org/.

Emily Steel and Jessica E. Vascellaro. Facebook, myspace confront privacy loophole. Wall Street Journal, May 21 2010.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704513104575256701215465596.html.

Lucy Soto. Companies use users' web information to their advantage. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, February 12 2010.
http://www.ajc.com/news/companies-use-users-web-301164.html.

Erika Morphy. Creepy ways your social media data can be used. TechNewsWorld, January 21 2010.
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/69158.html?wlc=1264687272.

Wendy Davis. Social networks may `leak' personally identifiable information. MediaPost News, September 25 2009.
http://www.mediapost.com/publications/index.cfm?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=114344.

Jaikumar Vijayan. Social networking sites leaking personal information to third parties, study warns. ComputerWorld, September 23 2009. This syndicated article also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, InfoWorld and MacWorld.
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9138454/Social_networking_sites_leaking_personal_information_to_third_parties_study_warns.

Peter Eckersley. How online tracking companies know most of what you do online (and what social networks are doing to help them). Electronic Frontier Foundation Deeplinks Blog, September 21 2009.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/09/online-trackers-and-social-networks.

Robert Westervelt. Social network privacy study finds identity link to cookies. SearchSecurity.com, August 26 2009.
http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/news/article/0,289142,sid14_gci1366077,00.html.

Thomas Claburn. Social networks leak personal information. InformationWeek, August 24 2009.
http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/social_network/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=219401268.

Miguel Helft. Google is top tracker of surfers in study. The New York Times Bits Blog, June 2 2009.
http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/google-is-top-tracker-of-surfers-in-study/.

Student Projects

Measuring Home Network Performance

This work seeks to examine home network performance by using JavaScript/Flash and Java applets to reduce impediments and increase incentives for helping a user better understand "How's My Network".

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Utility Computing for Internet Applications

This research focuses on a "utility provider" model that targets service-oriented computing. Our overriding goal is to gain understanding of basic principles in designing and building a global utility computing platform that would be highly responsive in resource reallocation, provide resource isolation to different applications, and support heterogeneous execution environments. This work encompasses a number of specific directions that when put together will result in a significant impact on service-oriented computing. Includes an NSF-supported project.

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Internet Applications and Protocols

This work seeks examine Internet applications and protocols in order to better understand them and improve their performance.

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Web Performance and Caching

This work is examining approaches for more resource efficient transfer of information in distributed environments. The work initially considered a mobile computing environment, but has evolved into performance of the World Wide Web. We are currently exploring how to lower the cost and improve the coherence of Web caches. project. Includes an NSF-supported project to exploit object relationships for more deterministic management of distributed objects.

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Distributed Computing

Dating from my PhD thesis the areas of distributed computing, load balancing and resource location in a distributed environment have been a research interest. Various projects have been undertaken to examine how distributed computations, their interfaces, their data and the potential composition of the computations themselves interact. The goal is to make better use of the distributed computing environments we now use. The availability of platform-independent environments such as Java provide new opportunities for study in this area.

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Network Management and Serviceability

This work investigates how to monitor and display information about a computer network. The primary focus of this work has been a research project with Prof. Dave Brown, which was sponsored by Digital, to investigate a system to evaluate the ease of service of a computer network. This project is named TENNIS (it involves service over a net!). Continued work on the project has investigated approaches for not only determining indicators of network serviceability, but also automatically generating their display.

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Flexibility in Systems and Interfaces

This research interest examines how computing systems and their interfaces can and do change as they operate. We are both exploring the general problem of flexibility in computing systems and specific instances of the problem. We are interested in how users customize user interfaces and how systems change as they are operate. We believe that understanding when and how to provide flexibility in systems and interfaces is an important area of study.

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Manipulation of a User's Information Space

This work examines the problem faced by computer users of how to find, view and manipulate available information on a day-to-day basis. The challenge for system designers is to provide system support and interfaces for efficient and intuitive implementation of these operations from small-scale to widely-distributed environments. Different aspects of this general problem have been explored.

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Webbib Project

This project is to create an online bibliography of literature relevant to studying distributed systems topics as they relate to the World Wide Web. The goal is to not only gather the references from various journals and conferences, but to use the online availability of the literature for references and indexing. This collection of information will allow connections between research work to be identified and studied as part of a distributed systems graduate course and by researchers in the field. Long-term maintainability of such a database is an important consideration in its construction. Access to the webbib database is available.

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Peer Learning in the Introductory Computer Science Curriculum

I have been active in curricular research with the use of cooperative learning in the course CS2005, Techniques of Programming. In this Data Structures course I use group programming projects with an upper-level undergraduate PLA (Peer Learning Assistant) associated with each group to facilitate group interaction. As an outgrowth of this work, I received National Science Foundation for the "Application of Peer Learning to the Introductory Computer Science Curriculum." This project began with a workshop in the Summer, 1996 with a follow-up workshop in the Summer, 1997.

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Integration of Research and Curriculum

This work has focused on integrating my research interests in distributed computing, networking and user interfaces into the undergraduate curriculum. One focus of the work was the creation of "The Webware, Interfaces and Networking Experimental Laboratory" through support of the National Science Foundation. This lab allowed students to not only understand the important concepts of each domain, but to better understand the effects of the interaction between the domains. We have also created the Fossil Lab for experimental systems work. This work has been funded by the NSF and Intel.

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