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Four new DFF grants

A huge congratulations to Associate Professor Peyman Afshani, Professor Claudio Orlandi, Professor Jesper Buus Nielsen, Professor Anders Møller, Assistant professor Amin Timany and Professor Lars Birkedal, who have all received grants from Independent Research Fund Denmark to support their research projects, which all aim to make software systems more accurate, secure, and faster. In total the four research projects will receive DKK 14.6 million. In 2023, the foundation has distributed DKK 750 million to 222 talented researchers across all scientific areas.

Professor Claudio Orlandi & Jesper Buus Nielsen - Cryptographic Foundations for Digital Society

Society is becoming more and more digital. Since the 1980s, cryptography has developed an impressive toolbox that enables the protection of data, processes, and the individual in the digital world. Digital signatures and encryption are ubiquitous, but recently more advanced techniques (such as zero-knowledge proofs and secure multiparty computation) have become more widespread. However, the cryptographic-theoretical foundation has not developed at the same pace, resulting in the use of these technologies in the real world without the necessary proof of security. Our project will take a step back and develop the necessary cryptographic-theoretical foundation using a two-pronged approach where better models and better techniques are developed in synergy.

Associate professor Peyman Afshani - Data Structures in the New Multicore World

Data structures are about organizing data, and it can be argued that they even predate computers. For example, the Library of Alexandria, established in the third century BCE, used a massive (for the time) data structure that kept track of more than 500,000 scrolls, allowing users to perform searches based on subject and author. Data structures as an important branch of computer science grew after the invention of electronic computers and due to the need for processing and storing digital data. Researchers have generally focused on reducing the size of the data structures and their query time. In comparison, there are fewer attempts to improve data structures through parallelism, which itself is becoming an increasingly important part of computing. We focus on faster and parallel construction of data structures, especially the newer and more modern data structures. This is important for three reasons: 1 - we have more parallelism in the world, 2 - we have more data, and 3 - data structures need to be maintained, which involves partial rebuilds. Faster construction not only means that our data can be processed faster, but it also means that our data structures can be maintained more efficiently. Data structures are at the heart of many applications and improving them will have a big impact on any application that uses them.

Professor Anders Møller - Detecting Malicious JavaScript Software with Static Resource Analysis

Millions of web applications are built on JavaScript with Node.js being the dominant platform for server programming. A key reason for its popularity among programmers is that there are over 2 million freely available software packages that enable rapid development of advanced programs. Over 90% of the code in a typical Node.js program is thus reused by other programmers' code. However, the architecture of Node.js is not designed for security. It is possible for malicious programmers to insert program code into the software packages, that leaks or modifies security-critical data, e.g., personal data or passwords when the packages are used in other programmers' web applications. This problem is well known, and several cases of adverse events have been reported. Existing proposals to solutions of the problem rely on different techniques to modify the program code, so an appropriate security policy is enforced while the programs are running. These kinds of methods have not won propagation, among other things because they cannot detect malicious code before the programs are taken into use. Based on new results on static program analysis for JavaScript, this project will construct a static resource analysis that will be able to automatically investigate whether a given JavaScript package contains potentially malicious code.

Assistant professor Amin Timany & Professor Lars Birkedal - Tools for Modular Verification of Distributed Systems

Modern software systems are often distributed, i.e., composed of programs running on different computers connected via the Internet. The goal of this project is to develop new tools and methods that programmers can use to analyze software for distributed systems so that it can be ensured that distributed software systems become more secure and correct. We will focus on developing so-called modular techniques that can scale to large and complex distributed software systems. The project builds on recent theoretical advances by the applicant's research group and involves collaboration with researchers from Amazon, which co-finances part of the project.

Facts about DFF research projects 1 and 2

  • A total of DKK 757 million has been distributed. DKK for 222 research projects under DFF Research Project 1 and DFF Research Project 2. This gives an overall success rate measured in terms of both amount and number of 14 percent.
  • DFF Research Project 1 typically runs over three years and must be implemented within a financial framework of up to DKK 2,000,000, excl. overhead. 175 DFF Research Project 1 grants have been awarded in 2023 with a success rate of 11 percent, both if you look at the amount applied for and granted and the number of applications and grants.
  • DFF Research Project 2 typically lasts up to 4½ years and is carried out by several researchers (including postdoctoral candidates and PhD students) with a financial framework of up to DKK 2,000,000 and DKK 4,300,000 excl. overhead. 47 DFF Research Project 2 grants have been awarded in 2023 with a success rate of 16 percent if you look at the amount applied for and 15 percent if you look at the number of grants compared to the number of applications.

Click here to see a list of all DFF grants awarded in 2023 [in Danish].