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Formal Verification for Safety- or Security-Critical Systems

University of Exeter - College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Exeter
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: £15,609
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 3rd November 2021
Closes: 24th January 2022
Reference: 4328

Streatham Campus

Modern society heavily relies on the safety, security, and correctness of complex systems, ranging from traditional software systems, to cyber-physical systems (CPS) connecting the physical world with the internet, systems  using machine-learning (ML) or artificial intelligence (AI), new computing models such as edge-computing and the Internet-of-Things (IoT), or novel computing architectures (e.g., quantum computing, hybrid systems using different CPU architectures or FPGAs). Ensuring the safety, security, and correctness of such systems is notoriously difficult. Formal and semi-formal methods, i.e., approaches based on mathematics or logic can help to detect security and privacy issues as well as support the development of systems that are secure-by-design or follow a privacy-by-design approach. 

In this project, we will contribute to solving this challenges. The concrete topic will be decided in agreement with the supervisor and could, e.g., range from developing novel verification and testing techniques for security or safety properties of complex systems (e.g., extending and improving our tool HOL-TestGen), developing formal approaches for verifying web systems (e.g., based on our formalisation of a component model for web  applications), developing verification and testing approaches for ML/AI-based systems, or developing support for formal certification processes (e.g., extending our tool Isabelle/DOF), or the formal verification of security protocols (e.g., improving our tool Isabelle/PSPSP). Any topic of joint interest in the area of formal modelling, testing, or verification of safety-critical or security-critical systems, as well as formal approaches to privacy, would be in scope of this PhD project. 

For this project, we are looking for a enthusiastic candidate with a outstanding Computer Science, Logic, Mathematics, or equivalent degree with a strong background in at least two of the following areas: formal verification, logic, functional programming, theorem proving, model-checking, security, safety, program analysis, semantics of programming languages, language-based security, type systems, compiler construction, program analysis. 

For further information, please contact Prof Achim Brucker:  

https://emps.exeter.ac.uk/computer-science/staff/ab1185 

Entry Requirements 

This studentship is open to UK and Irish nationals, who if successful in their application will receive a full studentship including payment of university tuition fees at the home fees rate. 

Applicants for this studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

Computer Science or Math or closely related subject required. 

If English is not your first language you will need to have achieved at least 6.0 in IELTS and no less than 6.0 in any section by the start of the project.  

Alternative tests may be acceptable (see http://www.exeter.ac.uk/postgraduate/apply/english/). 

The University of Exeter’s College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences is inviting applications for a fully-funded PhD studentship to commence in January 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.  For eligible students the studentship will cover Home tuition fees plus an annual tax-free stipend of at least £15,609 for 3.5 years full-time, or pro rata for part-time study. 

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