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PhD Studentship: Design and Verification of Distributed Systems (in particular Blockchain Systems)

University of Birmingham - School of Computer Science

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Birmingham
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £15,609 (award stipend) pa
Hours: Full Time, Part Time
Placed On: 22nd December 2021
Closes: 31st January 2022

The School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, UK, is continuously looking for strong PhD candidates. One particular field of interest is the design and formal verification of distributed systems, such as blockchain systems. As our society strongly depends on distributed critical information infrastructures such as distributed public ledgers, electrical grids, autonomous vehicles, etc., it is crucial to guarantee that these systems operate as specified. This is a challenging task, especially given the fact these systems are required to operate in complex environments (with malicious participants, time constraints, etc.).

This is a large field of study, which encompasses several areas such as distributed systems, formal methods, and programming languages, among others. Topics of particular interest are, for example:

  • Design and formal verification of Byzantine fault-tolerant (BFT) systems, including blockchain systems
  • Design and probabilistic formal verification of distributed real-time systems
  • Design of BFT systems that rely on trusted execution environments for resilience and efficiency
  • Type theory applied to the design and verification of distributed systems
  • Logical foundations of distributed systems
  • Knowledge reasoning applied to the verification of distributed systems

Possible projects are: (1) to make use of trusted execution environments to develop efficient fault-tolerant distributed systems that can execute correctly while sustaining persistent attacks, and/or provide real-time guarantees; and (2) to develop models and proof techniques to formally prove the correctness of such systems.

Excellent problem solving skills and programming skills are required. In addition, the candidate must have a strong background in one of the following areas:

  • Formal methods
  • Distributed systems
  • Programming languages
  • Type theory

We want our PhD student cohorts to reflect our diverse society. UoB is therefore committed to widening the diversity of our PhD student cohorts. UoB studentships are open to all and we particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups, including, but not limited to BAME, disabled and neuro-diverse candidates. We also welcome applications for part-time study.

The position offered is for three and a half years full-time study.  The value of the award is stipend; £15,609 pa; tuition fee: £4,500.  Awards are usually incremented on 1 October each year.

First or Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree and/or postgraduate degree with Distinction (or an international equivalent).  We also consider applicants from diverse backgrounds that have provided them with equally rich relevant experience and knowledge. Full-time and part-time study modes are available.

If your first language is not English and you have not studied in an English-speaking country, you will have to provide an English language qualification.

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