Computer Laboratory

Anwaar Ali*

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About me

I am a first year PhD student (this is, however, a bit of an overstatement. In reality, right now, I am enrolled in something called The Certificate of Postgraduate Study (CPGS) and if I manage to pass a viva---defending my proposed doctoral thesis---at the end of my first year I will then be enrolled properly for a PhD. And the part of my statement before the starting paranthesis of this rant will then retroactively be made true!) at Computer Lab under the supervision of Jon Crowcroft. My PhD research is funded by The Microsoft Cloud Computing Research. My departmental (so you win CST!) classification looks something like this: Systerms Research Group (SRG)>Networks and Operating Systems Group (NetOS). I am a member of Wolfson College (yay Wolfson!).

I completed my masters degree in Electrical Engineering at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (SEECS), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan. I hold an undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology (UET), Lahore, Pakistan.

I grew up in the city of Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan. I speak Urdu as my first language.

About my doctoral research

Research topic: Integration of laws and policies with the blockchain technology

My PhD is quite interdisciplinary involving law and technology. Specifically, my doctoral investigation is about studying the integration of law/policy with the blockchain technology. Blockchain is the very thing that powers the trust in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Blockchain particularly fascinates me as it is merely an intelligent rearrangement of classic techniques and tools such as hashing and cryptography (which have been around for a while!). Now, the trust provided by blockchain isn't just the human goodwill but is in the form of verifiable mathematical evidence. One can imagine such a trust as analogous to oxygen in our ecosystem. We breathe oxygen in an involuntary manner and go on about our daily chores and routines. Similarly, two parties in a blockchain ecosystem can make transactions with each other without necessarily trusting each other. Sometimes this phenomenon is referred to as the 'trustless' environment of blockchain. Hence, blockchain realizes the concept of 'pure' dectralization where the system as a whole does not require a third managing party (like a central bank in funds transfer) for an action to be performed among the peers of a networked system. This is the reason that sometimes blockchain is referred to as distributed ledger technology (DLT) as well.

Blockchain can find its applications for other use cases as well. Specially the ones where the role of third parties is dubious and transparency and fairness in record keeping and management is required. But in order to apply blockchain for a use case one has to be careful about the rules and laws that go with it according to a local-geographic context. We can, upto some extent, program laws and policies for a use case using smart contracts. The notion of smart contracts was poplularized by a blockchain-based system called Ethereum. Now, as part of my doctoral research, I will be looking at different use cases, the laws/policies that go with it, and how efficiently (and how far) I can program these laws (maybe in terms of smart contracts) on top of a blockchain.

Some useful resources to get started with blockchain and smart contracts:

Interactive blockchain demo by Andres Brownworth.
Truffle: Smart contract development framework.
UK Government's interest in using DLT.

Publications (Note: The following depicts my pre-PhD research)

Journal papers

Crisis analytics: big data-driven crisis response [PDF]
Junaid Qadir, Anwaar Ali, Raihan ur Rasool, Andrej Zwitter, Arjuna Sathiaseelan and Jon Crowcroft - Journal of International Humanitarian Action, 2016

Big data for development: applications and techniques [PDF]
Anwaar Ali, Junaid Qadir, Raihan ur Rasool, Arjuna Sathiaseelan, Andrej Zwitter and Jon Crowcroft - Big Data Analytics, 2016

The past, present, and future of transport-layer multipath [PDF]
Sana Habib, Junaid Qadir, Anwaar Ali, Durdana Habib, Ming Li, Arjuna Sathiaseelan - Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 2016

Exploiting the Power of Multiplicity: A Holistic Survey of Network-Layer Multipath [PDF]
J Qadir, A Ali, KLA Yau, A Sathiaseelan, J Crowcroft - IEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials, 2015

Conference papers

PiCasso: A Lightweight Edge Computing Platform [PDF soon]
Adisorn Lertsinsrubtavee, Anwaar Ali, Carlos Molina-Jimenez, Arjuna Sathiaseelan and Jon Crowcroft - IEEE 6th International Conference on Cloud Networking (CloudNet), Prague, Czech Republic, 2017

MP-ALM: Exploring Reliable Multipath Multicast Streaming with Multipath TCP [PDF]
A. Ali, J. Qadir, A. Sathiaseelan, K. L. A. Yau and J. Crowcroft - IEEE 41st Conference on Local Computer Networks (LCN), Dubai, 2016

Blog posts

Big data for human development
Posted on July 2016 on BioMed Central's On Biology blog


Supervisions are small group (usually comprising no more than three students each) teaching sessions (in addition to the regular lectures) for undergraduate students which are very unique to the Oxbridge experience. So far I have supervised following courses:

Computer Systems Modelling in 2017's Lent Term
Advanced Algorithms in 2017's Easter Term

Interests and hobbies

In my free time I like to do absolutely nothing, hence keeping the time 'free' (well, at times though I worry a bit about the future of homo sapiens!). Other than that I love to read, hike, travel and having a unique experience at least once a month. I am quite fascinated by the German culture, efficiency and language and these days I am taking a German Language class as well. Sometimes I like to meet a few Germans here. Bis später!

Whereabouts in the Lab

Lab address:
William Gates Building
15 JJ Thomson Avenue
Cambridge, CB3 0FD
United Kingdom

Office: FN10
Office phone: +44 (0) 1223 763614

*Although my first name is Anwaar; I like to go by my second name Ali (Reason: Well, my mama calls me Ali.). Back to top.