Dr Cristian Cadar

PhD

Photographic portrait of Cristian Cadar

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Job title: Reader
Division: Department of Computing
Organisation: Imperial College London
Tags: Fellowship: Early Career Fellowship, Imperial College London, Researcher
Related theme: ICT

Biography

I am a Reader in the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, where I lead the Software Reliability Group. I received a PhD in Computer Science from Stanford University, and Master’s and undergraduate degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. My research focuses on building practical techniques and tools for improving software quality, and spans the areas of software engineering, computer systems and security.

My Fellowship

As part of my fellowship project, I am investigating novel techniques for improving the reliability and security of evolving software. One of the distinguishing characteristics of software systems is that they evolve: new patches are committed to software repositories and new versions are released to users on a continuous basis. Unfortunately, as Fred Brooks aptly remarked more than 35 years ago, the whole process is often two steps forward and one step back. As a result, many users are reluctant to incorporate the latest patches made available by developers, relying instead on outdated versions, which despite their relative stability, miss recent features and bug fixes and may be plagued by security vulnerabilities.

The key research question is whether we can effectively analyse and combine multiple software versions in such a way as to increase the reliability and security of the evolving software. In particular, the research aims to devise automatic techniques that would eliminate a large number of common bugs and vulnerabilities introduced by software updates, which could significantly improve the quality of our deployed software.

This is an ambitious undertaking, which requires solving numerous problems spanning several areas of computer science, including software engineering, computer systems and security. The fellowship provides me with the unique opportunity to dedicate most of my time to tackle the challenges of this promising and incipient line of research, which would simply not be possible through a regular project.