Miner & Kasch, a AI and data science consulting firm founded by two UMBC alumni, will hold a one-day Data Science Conference at UMBC on Friday, January 25 in the Linehan Concert Hall of the UMBC Performing Arts & Humanities Building. A limited number of free tickets are available for current UMBC students. To attend, you need to register here.
The event was originally scheduled for January 14, but had to be rescheduled due to inclement weather. If you had registered and obtained a ticket earlier, you will need to re-register.
The event brings together local companies and professionals to share what new and exciting things they are doing with their data. It will be attended by business managers, startup founders, software engineers, data scientists, students, and other curious people that want to learn more about the cutting edge of data science, machine learning, and AI. See the conference website for topics and speakers.
Countering Russian disinformation the Baltic nations’ way
Countering Russian disinformation the Baltic nations’ way
As the new Congress begins, it will soon discuss the comprehensive reports to the U.S. Senate on the disinformation campaign of half-truths, outright fabrications and misleading posts made by agents of the Russian government on social media in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
There are already indications that Cyber Command conducted operations against Russian disinformation on social media, including warning specific Russians not to interfere with the 2018 elections. However, low-level cyberwarfare is not necessarily the best way. European countries, especially the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have confronted Russian disinformation campaigns for decades. Their experience may offer useful lessons as the U.S. joins the battle.
The Baltic experience
Beginning in 1940 and continuing until they declared independence in the early 1990s, the Baltic countries were subjected to systematic Russian gaslighting designed to make people doubt their national history, culture and economic development.
The Soviets rewrote history books to falsely emphasize Russian protection of the Baltic people from invading hordes in the Middle Ages, and to convey the impression that the cultural evolution of the three countries was enabled by their allegiance and close ties to Russia. Even their national anthems were rewritten to pay homage to Soviet influence.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the independence of the Baltic countries, the Russian Federation has continued to deliver disinformation to the region, making extensive use of Russian-language social media. Some themes characterize the Baltic people as ungrateful for Soviet investment and aid after World War II. Another common message criticizes Baltic historians for “falsification of history” when really they are describing the real nature of the Soviet occupation.
A massive Russian attack
After independence, and as the internet grew, Estonia led the way in applying technology to accelerate economic development. The country created systems for a wide range of government and commercial services, including voting, banking and filing tax returns electronically. Today, Estonia’s innovative e-residency system is being adopted in many other countries.
These advances made the Baltics a prime target for cyberattacks. In the spring of 2007, the Russians struck. When Estonia moved a monument memorializing Soviet soldiers from downtown Tallinn, the country’s capital, to a military cemetery a couple of miles away, it provoked the ire of ethnic Russians living in Estonia as well as the Russian government.
For three weeks, Estonian government, financial and media computer systems were bombarded with enormous amounts of internet traffic in a “distributed denial of service” attack. In these situations, an attacker sends overwhelming amounts of data to the targeted internet servers, clogging them up with traffic and either slowing them down or knocking them offline entirely. Despite concerns about the first “cyber war,” however, these attacks resulted in little damage. Although Estonia was cut off from the global internet temporarily, the country’s economy suffered no lasting harm.
These attacks could have severely damaged the country’s financial system or power grid. But Estonia was prepared. The country’s history with Russian disinformation had led Estonia to expect Russian attacks on computer and information systems. In anticipation, the government spearheaded partnerships with banks, internet service providers and other organizations to coordinate responses to cyberattacks. In 2006, Estonia was one of the first countries to create a Computer Emergency Response Team to manage security incidents.
The Baltic response
After the 2007 attack, the Baltic countries upped their game even more. For example, Estonia created the Cyber Defense League, an army of volunteer specialists in information technology. These experts focus on sharing threat information, preparing society for responding to cyber incidents and participating in international cyber defense activities.
Internationally, Estonia gained approval in 2008 to establish NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence in Tallinn. Its comprehensive research into global cyber activities helps identify best practices in cyber defense and training for NATO members.
In 2014, Riga, the capital of neighboring Latvia, became home to another NATO organization combating Russian influence, the Strategic Communications Center of Excellence. It publishes reports on Russian disinformation activities, such as the May 2018 study of the “Virtual Russian World in the Baltics.” That report analyzes Russian social media activities targeting Baltic nations with a “toxic mix of disinformation and propaganda.” It also provides insight into identifying and detecting Russian disinformation campaigns.
The Baltic countries also rely on a European Union agency formed in 2015 to combat Russian disinformation campaigns directed against the EU. The agency identifies disinformation efforts and publicizes accurate information that the Russians are seeking to undermine. A new effort will issue rapid alerts to the public when potential disinformation is directed against the 2019 European Parliament elections.
Will the ‘Baltic model’ work in the US?
Because of their political acknowledgment of threats and actions taken by their governments to fight disinformation, a 2018 study rated Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania the three European Union members best at responding to Russian disinformation.
A similar approach may work in the U.S., though it would require far more collaboration than has existed so far. But backed by the new government motivation to strike back when provoked, the methods used in the Baltic states and across Europe could provide a powerful new deterrent against Russian influence in the West.
Tim Finin named ACM fellow for contributions to knowledge sharing
Prof. Tim Finin named ACM Fellow for contributions to knowledge sharing
UMBC’s Tim Finin, professor of computer science and electrical engineering (CSEE), has been named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a distinctive honor granted to less than one percent of all ACM members. ACM fellows are selected based on their work to advance computing over the course of a career, in areas such as mobile networks, computer architecture, robotics, and security. Finin was cited for his “contributions to the theory and practice of knowledge sharing in distributed systems and the World Wide Web.”
“It’s a great honor to be selected as an ACM fellow, since it is based on the recommendations of one’s peers and recognizes contributions to the field of computing,” says Finin. “I am especially honored since ACM fellows include so many pioneers of the field whose work and contributions I have studied and used over the past 40 years.”
“Dr. Finin has been a leader in our department ever since he came in as the chair in 1991,” says Anupam Joshi, professor and chair of CSEE. “He is one of our most accomplished researchers, and in addition to this fellowship, has been recognized both internally (as a Presidential Research Professor) and externally with numerous awards.”
Joshi continues, “Tim is a great teacher, and he has mentored a number of our mid-career and senior faculty, including me!”
Throughout his career, Finin has been involved with various aspects of ACM. As a graduate student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Finin became a member of ACM’s special interest group on artificial intelligence (SIGART), which is one of his primary areas of focus. In the years since then, he has collaborated with numerous many UMBC faculty, students, and alumni, in addition to colleagues in industry and at other institutions, to move this work forward.
In the 1990s, and with support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Finin worked with UMBC faculty to develop new software standards to support the then-new concept of intelligent multiagent systems. The software, called the Knowledge Query and Manipulation Language, was used to develop intelligent applications and as the basis for faculty research and many Ph.D. dissertations.
The ACM’s Conference for Information and Knowledge Management awarded Finin and his collaborators with the 2018 Test of Time Award for a 1994 paper about this research that has continued to have an important impact on the research community.
Finin and a group of collaborators also worked on projects related building the semantic web. “The idea was to enhance the new web technologies with a way to enclose structured data that machines could use into ordinary web pages,” he explained. He adds that this allowed computers to understand the information on the web page without having to understand natural language.
Starting in the 2000s, Finin and his collaborators focused much of their work on blogs and then social media, including Facebook and Twitter. They explored how to analyze the data collected on these sites, and also how to protect and improve security and privacy features.
“I’ve only been able to do this because of the environment at UMBC,” Finin says, reflecting on the encouragement he has received to pursue new collaborations and areas of research.
“Based on my experience,” he shares, “I hope to mentor more faculty in the middle of their careers,” to help them access opportunities through organizations like ACM.
Finin currently oversees and mentors UMBC’s student chapter of ACM, which includes both undergraduate and graduate students. The student organization sponsors weekly talks and other events for people in the UMBC community who are interested in computing and related topics.
Finin joins Roy Rada, professor emeritus of information systems, who is also an ACM fellow.
Maryland Data Science Conference, 1/14 CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER
MD Data Science Conference Monday, 14 January, UMBC
Canceled due to Weather
Miner & Kasch has decided to cancel the conference tomorrow due to the snow storm and reschedule it.
“While around UMBC the snow seems to be letting up, we have several speakers and attendees from other areas that have raised concerns about being able to attend. We want to be able to have the event at a time when we can have everyone that wanted to participate be able to attend. We will start working on a backup date immediately and send a notice to all of you as soon as we hear more. For now, we will refund all the tickets and have you re-register for the new date once we have the new details.”
Miner & Kasch, a AI and data science consulting firm founded by two UMBC alumni, will hold a one-day Data Science Conference at UMBC on Monday, January 14 in the Performing Arts & Humanities Building. Tickets are free for current UMBC students.
The event brings together local companies and professionals to share what new and exciting things they are doing with their data. It will be attended by business managers, startup founders, software engineers, data scientists, students, and other curious people that want to learn more about the cutting edge of data science, machine learning, and AI.
UMBC Hour of Code events, 10am-1pm Dec 5 & 6, ENGR Atrium
UMBC Hour of Code events
This week on Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00am – 1:00pm, the UMBC Computer Science Education Club will host Hour of Codeevents in the Engineering Building Atrium. Hour of Code is an annual campaign that is part of Computer Science Education Week with the goal of expanding access to computer science in schools and increasing the participation of women and underrepresented minorities.
On Wednesday, December 5th, the focus will be on on computer science outreach within the UMBC community. There will be an Arduino workshop from IEEE from 11:30am – 12:45pm (bring your laptop if interested), interactive games teaching introductory programming concepts, and Makey Makeys.
On Thursday, December 6th, students from Lakeland Elementary School will visit the UMBC campus and learn about programming. The CS Ed club are still accepting volunteers to help students during the activity, and/or attend lunch with the students. You can sign-up here. Computer Science Education Club would appreciate any time you can dedicate to this event.
talk: The Web PKI in Theory and Malpractice, Prof. Bruce Maggs, 11am Fri 12/7, ITE325
Distinguished Departmental Seminar
The Web PKI in Theory and Malpractice
Dr. Bruce Maggs, Duke University
11:00am Friday, 7 December 2018, ITE325b
The Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) for the web was designed to help thwart “phishing” attacks by providing a mechanism for browsers to authenticate web sites, and also to help prevent the disclosure of confidential information by enabling encrypted communications. For users to reap these benefits, however, the parties that implement and operate the PKI, including certificate authorities, web-site operators, and browser vendors, must each perform their roles properly.
This talk focuses on one aspect of the PKI: certificate revocation. The security of a web site hinges on the ability of the site operator to keeps its private keys private. While most operators guard their keys carefully, on occasion software vulnerabilities such as the notorious Heartbleed Bug have put millions of keys at risk. If a web-site operator fears that its private key has been compromised, it should ask its certificate authority to revoke the corresponding certificate. Browsers, however, often do not fully check whether the certificates they receive have been revoked, and mobile browsers never check. There are a variety of reasons for not checking, but the most important are the amount of bandwidth required to download certificate revocation lists in advance, the latency of checking certificates on the fly, and the slow progress of upgrading every web server to support the newer certificate status stapling approach.
This talk presents a new and much more efficient system, CRLite, for pushing the revocation status of every certificate to every browser. CRLite leverages a recent development: although lists of revoked certificates were previously available, Google’s Certificate Transparency project now also provides a log of all unrevoked certificates as well. With both lists in hand, a compact data structure called a filter cascade can be used to represent the status of every certificate with no false positives and no false negatives. CRLite requires a browser to download a 1.2MB filter cascade initially, and then a 40KB update (on average) every day. Our results demonstrate that complete revocation checking is within reach for all clients.
Bruce Maggs received the S.B., S.M., and Ph.D. degrees in computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1985, 1986, and 1989, respectively. His advisor was Charles Leiserson. After spending one year as a Postdoctoral Associate at MIT, he worked as a Research Scientist at NEC Research Institute in Princeton from 1990 to 1993. In 1994, he moved to Carnegie Mellon, where he stayed until joining Duke University in 2009. While on a two-year leave-of-absence from Carnegie Mellon, Maggs helped to launch Akamai Technologies, serving as its first Vice President for Research and Development. He retains a part-time role at Akamai as Vice President for Research. In 2017 he won the Best Dataset Award at the Passive and Active Measurement Conference, The Best Paper Award at CoNEXT, a Distinguished Paper Award at USENIX Security, and the 2017 IEEE Cybersecurity Innovation Award for work that appeared at IEEE Security and Privacy. In 2018 he was part of a large team that received the inaugural SIGCOMM Networking Systems Award for the Akamai CDN.
Job Positions: Computer Science Lecturer, Professor of the Practice and Visiting Assistant Professor
Computer Science Lecturer, Professor of the Practice and Visiting Assistant Professor
Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
The Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering (CSEE) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) invites applications for multiple non-tenure track positions at the ranks of Lecturer, Professor of the Practice and Visiting Assistant Professor. The positions begin Spring or Fall 2019 (January or August). Some of these positions will have teaching and/or administrative responsibilities in the computer science program to be offered at The Universities at Shady Grove, in Montgomery County, Maryland.
For the position of Lecturer, the preferred qualification is a master’s degree in computer science or a closely related discipline. Applicants for the Professor of the Practice or Visiting Assistant Professor positions should have completed or be about to complete a doctoral degree in computer science or closely related discipline. Ideal candidates will have evidence of strong organizational skills. Experience in academia, industry and government will be considered in the evaluation of the candidate. Candidates who have had a non-academic career with a demonstrated commitment to teaching are encouraged to apply.
The Lecturer and Professor of the Practice (PoP) positions are renewable. Lecturers and PoPs teach a wide range of courses, primarily at the undergraduate level. They advise students, mentor teaching assistants, and help shape departmental practices and policies. Lecturers and PoPs are expected to continue their professional growth. Lecturers have the opportunity to be promoted through the ranks of Senior Lecturer and Principal Lecturer. PoPs are expected to provide leadership in the administration of the department.
The position of Visiting Assistant Professor is a short-term appointment that is appropriate for new and recent PhDs who would like to bolster their teaching and research profiles before applying to a permanent position.
The CSEE department is large and growing, with a diverse community of approximately 2,000 undergraduate majors in computer science and computer engineering. Professors of the Practice, along with Lecturers and a cadre of tenure-track faculty, are the driving force behind the department’s broad effort to ensure a quality education for our undergraduates: working to improve computing education, curriculum, diversity, and student support. CSEE faculty collaborate with the Center for Women in Technology to increase the diversity of those who create technology, with programs designed for women in computing and engineering, transfer students from underrepresented groups, and diverse students interested in cybersecurity. In addition to our undergraduate programs, the department has graduate programs in computer science, computer engineering, electrical engineering, cybersecurity and data science. Our faculty enjoy collaboration within the department, across departments, and with partners outside the university.
UMBC is a dynamic public research university integrating teaching, research and service. As an Honors University, the campus offers academically talented students a strong undergraduate liberal arts foundation that prepares them for graduate and professional study, entry into the workforce, and community service and leadership. We are dedicated to cultural and ethnic diversity, social responsibility, and lifelong learning. The 2018 US News and World Report Best Colleges report placed UMBC seventh in the Most Innovative National Universities category and 13th in Best Undergraduate Teaching, National Universities category. The Chronicle of Higher Education named UMBC as a Great College to Work For, a recognition given to only 86 universities. Our strategic location in the Baltimore-Washington corridor puts us close to many important federal laboratories and agencies and high-tech companies, facilitating interactions, and collaboration.
UMBC’s campus is located on 500 acres just off I-95 between Baltimore and Washington DC, and less than 10 minutes from the BWI airport and Amtrak station. The campus includes the bwtech@UMBC research and technology park, which has special programs for startups focused on cybersecurity, clean energy, life sciences, and training. We are surrounded by one of the greatest concentrations of commercial, cultural and scientific activity in the nation. Located at the head of the Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore has all the advantages of modern, urban living, including professional sports, major art galleries, theaters and a symphony orchestra. The city’s famous Inner Harbor area is an exciting center for entertainment and commerce. The nation’s capital, Washington, DC, is a great tourist attraction with its historical monuments and museums. Just ten minutes from downtown Baltimore and 30 minutes from the D.C. Beltway, UMBC offers easy access to the region’s resources by car or public transportation. UMBC is one of nine institutions represented at The Universities at Shady Grove, a consortium of universities within the University System of Maryland, located in Rockville, MD.
Applications are accepted on Interfolio http://apply.interfolio.com/57568. The initial application consists of the candidate’s curriculum vitae or resume and a brief statement describing the candidate’s teaching experience. Promising candidates will be asked to supply three letters of recommendation and a statement describing how the candidate will contribute to UMBC’s commitment to inclusive excellence. For best consideration, submit all application materials by January 18, 2019. Applications will be accepted until the positions are filled. Questions regarding the positions or the application process may be directed to the chair of the search committee at .
UMBC is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and is a recent recipient of a National Science Foundation ADVANCE award to promote hiring and advancement of women in science and engineering. We welcome applications from women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities.
UMBC CSEE alumnus receives NSF support for specialty fiber research
UMBC CSEE alumnus receives NSF support for specialty fiber research
UMBC alumnus Dr. Jonathan Hu (Ph.D., electrical engineering, ’08) was recently awarded a three-year grant by National Science Foundation to develop new techniques using of chalcogenide glass fiber devices to transform mid-infrared sensor technologies that detect hazardous aerosol particles in the air. Dr. Hu is currently a tenured associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Winning a grant from National Science Foundation is highly competitive as only about 10 percent of the applications will be awarded.
Regarding his accomplishment, Dr. Hu said, “I am grateful for the award from National Science Foundation and I want to thank my former professors at UMBC, who trained me with a very rigorous background in the field of optics and photonics.” This accomplishment reflects Dr. Hu’s continuous effort as well as his significant contributions to the research areas of specialty optical fibers and nanophotonic devices. His recent publications include papers in Advances in Optics and Photonics and Advanced Materials. Prof. Curtis Menyuk, who was Dr. Hu’s dissertation adviser at UMBC, said “It has been a privilege to work continuously with Jonathan as he evolved from a graduate student to a research leader.”
Dr. Hu also serves as a Baylor Fellow for academic year 2018–2019. The Baylor Fellows Program recognizes professors across the disciplinary spectrum who exemplify excellence in teaching at Baylor University. Baylor Fellows are committed to pedagogical innovation, inspirational teaching, and the cultivation of these among Baylor faculty. Dr. Hu was selected for his effort in connecting research and teaching at Baylor University. He also participated in the transformation of undergraduate engineering education, which was sponsored by the Kern Family Foundation.
The UMBC CSEE department is very proud of Dr. Hu, as his accomplishment truly reflects the depth of our graduates and how valuable the UMBC graduate education is for our students in their career path.
CMSC 201: Computer Science I for Non-CS Disciplines – Spring 2019
CMSC 201 Computer Science I for Non-CS Disciplines
This spring, Dr. Susan Mitchell will teach a special section of CMSC 201 Computer Science I designed for social and biological sciences and humanities majors. The course will cover the same content and have the same rigor as all other sections of CMSC 201 and prepare students to continue on to CMSC 202 if they wish. As with other sections, it fulfills any major’s requirement for CMSC 201. The key difference will be that the assignments and projects will emphasize topics applicable to many non-CS disciplines, such as statistical analysis, working with large data sets, and data visualization. The catalog description is:
An introduction to computer science through problem solving and computer programming. Programming techniques covered by this course include modularity, abstraction, top-down design, specifications documentation, debugging and testing. The core material for this course includes control structures, functions, lists, strings, abstract data types, file I/O, and recursion.
The course will include a lecture from 2:30pm to 3:45pm on Mondays and Wednesdays (Section 24-LEC) and a one-hour lab on either Tuesdays 11:30-12:20 (Section 19-DIS) or Wednesdays 4:00-4:50 (Section 21-DIS).
Permission from the instructor is required to register for this section. No prior programming experience is required. The only prerequisite is that students must have completed MATH 150, 151 or 152 with a C or better; OR have MATH test placement into MATH 151; OR have completed MATH 155 with a C or better.
For permission or questions, email Dr. Susan Mitchell at
UMBC CS & CE tenured/tenure track faculty positions for 2019
CSEE Professor Tinoosh Mohsenin in her laboratory
Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty Positions in CS and CE
Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
UMBC’s Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering invites applications for multiple, open rank, tenured/tenure-track positions in Computer Science (CS) and Computer Engineering (CE) to begin in the Fall of 2019. Applicants should have or be completing a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline, have demonstrated the ability to pursue a research program, and have a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate teaching.
We welcome candidates in all areas of specialization. Some areas of interest for CS applicants include but are not limited to: information assurance and cybersecurity; mobile, wearable, and IoT systems; big data with an emphasis on machine learning, data science, brain-inspired methods, and high-performance computing; knowledge and database systems; visualization.
Some areas of interest for CE applicants include but are not limited to: hardware focused applicants in Digital, Analog, Mixed-mode VLSI design and test, integrated sensors and processing, SoC, new and emerging design technologies, hardware implementations for neuroscience and health-related wearables, cyber physical systems, hardware security and assurance.
The CSEE department is research-oriented and multi-disciplinary, with programs in Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Data Science, and Cybersecurity. Our faculty (33 tenure-track, 10 teaching and 18 research) enjoy collaboration, working across our specializations as well as with colleagues from other STEM, humanities and the arts departments and external partners. We have more than 2000 undergraduate and 560 M.S. and Ph.D. students in our programs.
UMBC is a dynamic public research university integrating teaching, research and service. The 2018 US News and World Report Best Colleges report placed UMBC 7th in the Most Innovative National Universities category and 13th in Best Undergraduate Teaching, National Universities. Our strategic location in the Baltimore-Washington corridor is close to many federal laboratories and agencies and high-tech companies, facilitating interactions, collaboration, and opportunities for sabbaticals and visiting appointments.
Applicants should submit a cover letter, statement of teaching and research experience and interests, CV, and three letters of recommendation at http://apply.interfolio.com/57564. Candidates who are under consideration for an on-campus interview will be required to submit a commitment to inclusive excellence statement, which can be submitted as part of the initial application. For full consideration submit application materials by December 15, 2018. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. Send questions to and see http://csee.umbc.edu/jobs for more information. UMBC is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer.