Jan Hoffmann, an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department, has received a five-year, $519,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the National Science Foundation's most prestigious award for young faculty members.
Hoffmann's research specialties are programming languages and verification. The NSF award will support his work regarding quantitative properties, such as available memory and execution time, associated with formal verification techniques.
For instance, Hoffmann said it would be insufficient to verify the correctness of software for a self-driving vehicle without considering whether the system had sufficient memory to execute the program or could do so quickly enough to allow the vehicle to respond to live traffic situations. Likewise, formal methods could determine how long it takes to run a program on the cloud and, thus, justify charges by cloud computing providers.
Hoffmann said quantitative properties will be critical to providing probabilistic guarantees for the safety of a software system. And quantitative properties can help cybersecurity researchers reason about side channels. In the case of password prompts, for instance, the time it takes to verify if an input matches the password can provide help in cracking passwords, and the size of data packets transmitted while filling out an online medical form can let an observer determine which links on the form have been clicked.
Hoffmann earned his Ph.D. in computer science at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and the Technical University of Munich. He joined the CMU faculty in 2015, after serving as a post-doctoral associate and an associate research scientist at Yale University.