Hao Han and Nan Zheng Selected for the Park Graduate Research Award

Hao Han and Nan Zheng

Hao Han and Nan Zheng, both doctoral students in the Department of Computer Science, have been selected for the 2012 Stephen K. Park Graduate Research Award.  This $1,000 award is presented annually in the fall semester to at least one currently registered Computer Science graduate student who in the prior academic year "established or refined, and documented, a research result judged to be particularly significant by the joint faculty of the Computer Science department, or a subcommittee thereof."

Hao was nominated by his advisor, Qun Li, for his result published in the paper DozyAP: Power-Efficient Wi-Fi Tethering, which appeared in the Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications, and Services (ACM Mobisys '12).  In his nomination letter, Qun explains that Hao worked as an intern at Microsoft Research Asia (MSRA) during the 2011-12 academic year and that  Hao's major research effort at MSRA was to design a new protocol for power-efficient Wi-Fi tethering.  This is a research problem of practical interest because more and more smartphone users employ tethering to connect a laptop to the Internet through their smartphone.  Existing Wi-Fi tethering schemes consume excessive power as they keep the Wi-Fi interface in a high power state regardless  of whether there is ongoing traffic or not.  To tackle the power efficiency problem, Hao and his collaborators identified many opportunities for a tethering phone to sleep to save power and designed a simple yet reliable sleep protocol to coordinate the sleep schedule of the tethering phone with its clients without requiring tight time synchronization.  A particularly attractive aspect of the approach Hao proposed is that it does not require any changes to the 802.11 protocol and his techniques can achieve up to a 33% performance gain even though the programmability of smart-phone hardware is restricted.

Nan was nominated by her advisor, Haining Wang, for her result published in the paper An Efficient User Verification System via Mouse Movements, which appeared in the Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS '11).  In his nomination letter, Haining explains that along the security chain of Internet communications, human users are the weakest link as they are vulnerable to Internet fraud and identity theft.  User authentication is the critical process of identifying a user and verifying that the user is allowed access to some restricted service or information.  Biometric authentication verifies a user based on the user's inherent, unique characteristics.  In addition to physiological biometrics, behavioral biometrics have proven useful in authenticating users.  Mouse dynamics, with their unique pattern of mouse movements, is one such behavioral biometric.  In this paper, Nan used mouse dynamics to develop a new user verification system that is both accurate and efficient enough for future application.  The key feature of this new user verification system lies in recording point-by-point angle-based metrics of mouse movements.  These new metrics are relatively unique from person to person and independent of the computing platform.  Nan then uses support vector machines (SVMs) for accurate and fast classification.  The proposed approach is robust across different operating platforms, and no specialized hardware is required.

To learn more about Steve Park, a former faculty member and chair of the department whose bequest endowed this award, visit the commemoration on our Facebook page.

Photo by Isil Dillig