[macs-faculty] Panel ready at 1:45

Mayank Varia varia at bu.edu
Fri Oct 7 15:36:16 EDT 2016

Quick update for those of you who couldn't make the wrap-up: the panel was
strongly supportive of this project. Their executive summary listed very
positive things about our intellectual efforts, broader impact, and
educational outreach (see below). They also explicitly endorsed continuing
iO, which was a point of contention at last year's review. Finally, they
had a few useful suggestions for work we should do going forward.

Nina says that the panel will submit the full report to us by Monday,
October 17. We can then submit a rebuttal if we so choose. Both the panel
report and our rebuttal (if we have one) will be used at NSF to make a
final recommendation regarding the project, but (in her words) "I don't
think it's going to be a big issue."

Here are some highlights they called out in the executive summary:
- The panel was particularly impressed with our work advancing ORAM designs
in connection with secure processors
- The panel concluded that the application of iO to use cases like
outsourcing RAM computations is in scope.
- Regarding outreach, the panel was particularly impressed with the Holyoke
K16 outreach to underrepresented students.
- We did a very good job to date of establishing and growing a culture of
collaboration and creativity.
- They appreciated our "max 50% rule" in the postdoc hiring process, and
were impressed throughout with the high quality of students and postdocs on
our team.
- Overall, "The panel concluded that the whole of MACS does exceed the sum
of its parts but that more can be achieved in this direction."

The panel had two suggested and two optional recommendations. The suggested
recommendations were for our team to write a long monograph documenting our
methodology on how to apply composability techniques to a broad set of
components and to choose the best solution from the "Chinese menu";
additionally, they recommended that we demonstrate at least two end-to-end
applications of the UC methodology to showcase how it leads to meaningful
security. The additional recommendations were to gather user feedback from
tenants and customers from the HIL and to engage more with industry
partners (note that there exists a program for NSF partial matching of
funds acquired from industry sources during years 4 and 5 of a Frontier

Overall, great work everyone! Hope you all catch up on sleep and have a
good weekend.


On Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 13:15 Mayank Varia <varia at bu.edu> wrote:

> Hi everyone,
> The panel will be ready to share their findings at 1:45. Please return to
> the Castle by then.
> Mayank
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