About me

[Picture of David Eyers (aka Dave)] I am currently a visiting research fellow at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory.

Previously I was a Senior Research Associate working in the Opera Research Group. I was employed by the Smart Flow grant (EPSRC funded). For the one sentence summary, my Ph.D. research looked at distributed, active, policy-based access-control systems. After my Ph.D. I worked here as an post-doctoral RA investigating "Business Contract Driven Application Development and Control", and then as a PDRA on the CareGrid project.

DEBS13 Conference Middleware 2013 Conference

I am an Associate of the Senior Combination Room at King's College, and have it to thank for many of my extra-curricular pursuits both now and during my Ph.D. I have a combined BE / BSc (hons) in Computer Engineering and Pure Maths from the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia.

My CV is online in PDF form. My CV tends to lag (occasionally quite a long way) behind me doing what is actually interesting me at any point in time of course.

My research

My research within the SmartFlow grant is best described on the project website. We have had some good success in effecting Information Flow Control within event processing systems. Ongoing work relates to scaling up our results within the context of large-scale distributed systems.

Research following on from the BCDA grant relates closely to the work Dr Alan Abrahams developed during his Ph.D. He developed a knowledge representation technique suitable for encoding the regulations within natural-language business contracts alongside business events and queries over this knowledge store. Our ongoing collaboration aims to continue the aims of his work, although using a very different set of tools. His focus built knowledge representation from the word-level upwards within each source document. For the moment I am focusing on a top-down approach instead. I aim to make our future knowledge representation fit within the semantic web, which will involve the development of deontic ontologies. Of course there is a great deal of vacuous hype about the semantic web, but if one can turn down the noise I believe there really are a number of significant initiatives in motion. I have been recently experimenting with document navigation, and the tracking of relationships between source material and derived computer-executable content.

As mentioned above, my Ph.D. research was into distributed, active, policy-based access control systems. I continue to have an interest in this area, and support others working in the Opera Group (e.g. the ongoing EDSAC21 project). Elaborating on my particular interests, whilst access control systems have been in place for decades in some form or another, there has been little agreement on a uniform mechanism for policy-based access control across distributed systems, particularly with respect to timely revocation of privileges or resolution of conflicting policy.

I use the term 'policy-based' to indicate that the actual access control rules in a given instance of a system are external to the core access control software itself. In other words, rather than hard-coding specific access control rules within an application, policy administrators are able to make changes to policy while the application continues to run. Facilitating dynamically modifiable policy is common across both EDSAC21 and the BCDA project.

My publications are available from the Opera web-page.

Other research interests

In addition to my actual core post-doc and Ph.D. related areas of work, I have broad research interests. Currently these include meta-programming, reconfigurability, visualisation, programming language comparisons, and "systemsy" tinkering with Xen virtualisation and TCP/IP network management / security.

Perhaps one way to glance into my brain is to look at "stuff" I've done that other people use (whether or not they be crazy to do so):

  • Network authentication software. After experimenting with deployment of NoCat for wireless network protection within the University of Cambridge (leading to some notes on installing and patching NoCat to meet the needs of our organisation), I found that software base had a number of stability issues.

    Wrinkles and creases in NoCat (mostly due to it having features beyond my needs) led me to write my own very simple web-based network authentication gateway (WebNAG) (primarily intended for use within the University of Cambridge). Pleasingly none of the three sites I have deployed this software at have required any intervention since September 2005 (BTW this is still true in November 2006!)—explicitly designing it as cleanly as possible seems to have paid off for my use of it (YMMV).

  • Electronic ballot box software. I wrote a simple, open (i.e. you get to see the source code) ballot box system suitable for Single Transferable Vote elections within Cambridge. It's ended up being used in a number of different organisations—somewhat to my surprise! You're welcome to use the Basic On-line Ballot box, but of course e-voting is mostly a world of pain.

Teaching

I thoroughly enjoy my undergraduate teaching work here at the Computer Laboratory, and have had numerous project students doing great work and generally providing much appreciated additional intellectual stimulation across computer graphics, databases and Human Computer Interaction. Some of my project ideas are listed (all negotiable of course!).

Extra-curricular

My hobbies basically divide into those related to computing (music synthesis, audio production, video editing, DVD and multimedia production, content management) and those outside (singing, arranging music, teaching, rowing, politicking, travelling). I am currently, or have been involved with a number of Cambridge organisations and various clubs and societies. At King's this includes the King's Voices, and I have spent time involved with the King's College Graduate Society, the King's College Student Union, and the King's College Boatclub. More widely I've been involved with the running of the Graduate Union, the Cambridge Commonwealth Group, and the Australia and New Zealand Society.

Contact details

My email address can be revealed via reCAPTCHA. Alternatively take @cl.cam.ac.uk and, in front of it, put my firstname and surname (see the page title) separated by a period. Why hasn't someone fixed spam yet, anyway?

Physically, I'm situated in room FN19. My office extension is 63667 (so that's +44 1223 763 667 in full).