Dr Richard Gibbens (1962 – 2018)

It is with great shock and sadness that we announce the death of Richard Gibbens on 12 August 2018, following a short illness. Richard was Reader in Network Modelling in the Department, and had been promoted to a Professorship from 1 October 2018.   Richard was a very valued member of the department who was recognised internationally for his research.  He will be greatly missed by his colleagues and all who worked with him.

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DeepMind Chair of Machine Learning to be appointed

The Department of Computer Science and Technology is to appoint a DeepMind Chair of Machine Learning thanks to a benefaction from the world-leading AI company.

The first DeepMind Chair is expected to take up their position in October 2019.

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The Department of Computer Science and Technology and Nokia Bell Labs establish the new Centre for Mobile, Wearable Systems and Augmented Intelligence

Nokia Bell Labs is a founding partner of the new Centre for Mobile, Wearable Systems and Augmented Intelligence, to be based in the Department of Computer Science and Technology. The Centre will advance state-of-the-art mobile systems, security, new materials, and artificial intelligence (AI) to address one of the main human needs – the ability to communicate better with each other.

The research jointly conducted in the new Centre will redefine the way people interact with the digital and physical world. Areas of focus include precise, predictive and personalised medicine, digital, physical, mental, and social well-being, and sensory human communication experiences beyond visual and audio. The Centre will be directed by Cecilia Mascolo, Professor of Mobile Systems, and Alastair Beresford, Reader in Computer Security.

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Network outage on June 2nd

At 09:12 on Saturday morning, a new switch in our data centre failed. In doing so it bridged together all of its connections to the rest of the network. Since switches have multiple uplinks for resilience, this created a loop in the network.

This loop meant that network traffic was duplicated indefinitely, causing CPU starvation on the switches and routers as they received a flood of traffic and resulted in a cascade failure of the entire network.

During this outage many systems failed as a consequence of the network failure, in particular our virtual machine pool lost connectivity with its disks. The traffic flood also caused some devices to crash or reboot.

Following failed attempts to mitigate the problem remotely, emergency work was untertaken on-site during the afternoon and evening to locate and isolate the faulty device by iteratively partitioning the network, allowing the rest of the network to recover, and then fixing devices stuck in a broken state. Intermittent network disruption continued into the late evening due to a suspected internal state corruption in the core router (gatwick), until each CPU therein was rebooted.

Services hosted on virtual machines were gradually brought back into service during the rest of the weekend, starting with the web and email servers early Saturday evening.

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PAT 2018

Portable Appliance Testsing (PAT) is not a legal requirement, but is required by our insurers. Estate Management have hired contractors to fulfill the insurers’ requirement at very short notice.
Some information which might be of interest:

  • Computers will not be turned off without permission.
  • No machine rooms or risers will be included in this testing.
  • They expect to do 300 items per day, and will hve one ot two people at a time
  • On the first day, they found a mains lead which failed the impedence test (.32 Mohms – had limescale)
  • They estimated 1500 items (5 per PC), but then discovered that there were twice as many offices.
  • All items plugged into the mains will be tested, including fitted dishwashers and fridges
  • The tester uses 500v at 200mA
  • Cables and connected devices, such as PCs and power supplies, are each tested, labelled and recorded.
  • Visual inspection only on ‘servers’.
  • Not testing unconnected kit e.g. in store rooms, so needs to be tested before bringing into use.

Any comments, questions, etc to safety-officer@cl.cam.ac.uk

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New Ubuntu MTA now in use by new slogin server

The new slogin server will not send non-ASCII MH emails to the main Lab CentOS 5 MTAs, as they do not advertise that they support 8BITMIME. A Ubuntu 16.04 MTA which was being used for development has been brought into service, and slogin-new has been configured to use it.
It is believed that the system works, but do keep a closer eye on receiving copies of emails sent from slogin-new / svr-ssh-0.

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Professor Jon Crowcroft awarded honorary doctorate by the Aalto University schools of technology

Professor Jon Crowcroft has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Aalto University schools of technology.

The award ceremony will take place on June 15th 2018 in Otaniemi, Espoo, Finland.

Jon Crowcroft is the Marconi Professor of Communications Systems at the Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge.

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Seventh Annual Wheeler Lecture

We are pleased to announce that the Wheeler Lecture for 2018 will be given on Wednesday 30th May by Prof. Stephen Pulman. The title of the lecture is Language, learning and creativity. More information is available, and is now open.

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Michael Schaarschmidt awarded 2018 Google PhD Fellowship

Michael Schaarschmidt has been awarded a 2018 Google PhD Fellowship. Michael is a member of the Systems Research Group under the supervision of Dr Eiko Yoneki.

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New Ubuntu 18.04 LTS slogin-new test server

A new Ubuntu 18.04 LTS server is now available, available via the service name slogin-new and slogin. To ensure that the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS server is used, connect to slogin. Comments to sys-admin please.

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