Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis

Current

For Chris Brzuska, truth and understanding are supreme virtues

20. September 2018

What kind of research do you do?

In April 2018, I started as an Assistant Professor at both the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis and the Department of Computer Science. My research is about cryptography and its connections to IT security, verification, complexity theory, algorithms, and discrete mathematics.

For four years already, I have been part of a vast, collaborative effort in analysing and standardising a new version of the TLS protocol. It’s the main protocol for secure communication on the internet, for instance online banking.

Our informal group includes experts from both industry and academia. The design of the protocol for secure communication is a huge task, and we are now in the final stages of the project. One of the difficulties is backward compatibility: we need to make sure that the new protocol is compatible with the old versions but does not inherit their security weaknesses.

How did you become a researcher?

When I finished high school, I had plans of becoming a very successful banker. Although the banking business was a lot of fun, I realised I was not really accelerating my personal growth. After only six months in banking, at the age of 19, I decided that instead, I want to become a researcher in mathematics.

I studied mathematics in Germany and in Southern France. During my master’s studies, I ended up in a computer science class designing secure cryptography against arbitrary and adverse algorithms. I enjoyed that a lot.

Marc Fischlin, the professor of cryptography at Technische Universität Darmstadt, offered me a PhD position in the same research area—and I accepted the offer. Soon I ended up at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton for six months, followed by Tel Aviv University and Microsoft research in Cambridge.

Finally, I started as an assistant professor for IT Security Analysis at the Hamburg University of Technology where I worked closely with NXP Semiconductors for two and a half years before moving to Finland and Aalto University.

What are the highlights of your career?

I rather enjoy the highlights every single day. I feel very lucky and grateful that I can interact with great people in a way that is beneficial for both them and myself.

What is the most important quality for a researcher?

In my opinion, a good researcher is interested in and committed to truth and understanding.

I find it meaningful and fulfilling that research allows me to grow my understanding, not only of cryptography, but of many other topics as well. In teaching, I have the chance to help my students grow their ability to understand, regardless of the topic. I find it very rewarding.

What do you expect from the future?

During the interview process, I came to Finland for several days and felt comfortable. Already then, I had a very strong gut feeling Aalto will be a good environment for research and teaching—and me personally.

I have started to collaborate with my colleagues in discrete mathematics, algorithms and IT security, and I have already taught my first class. I can now confirm that Aalto is a good environment for research and teaching—and I look forward to continue enjoying to be here.


Ahti Salo is the Espoo Ambassador of 2018

29. August 2018

Professor Ahti Salo is an internationally known and respected expert in operations research and an active member of Finnish and international associations in his field.

Professor Salo is the head of the Systems Analysis Laboratory research group in the Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis. He has developed methods to support risk management, efficiency analysis and decision-making, and has led numerous projects in cooperation with companies and public organisations.

Currently Salo is the Principal Investigator of the six-year Platform Value Now project funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland. This project studies the platform economy from different perspectives. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Society of Scientists and Parliament Members (Tutkas) and the Foresight Steering Group appointed by the Prime Minister’s Office.

”It has been fascinating to see how mathematical models help to foresee the development prospects of a rapidly developing platform economy and manage risks of cybersecurity,” says Professor Salo.

In addition to scientific positions of trust, Salo has taken part in the organisation of several international conferences in Finland and abroad. In 2017, he was the main local organiser of two international conferences held at Aalto University´s Otaniemi campus.

The Finnish Operations Research Society is considering applying to host the main European operations research conference in Espoo in 2022. Should this come true, the conference would bring 3000 participants to Finland.

“With the new metro line connecting Espoo to capital Helsinki and the development of the Aalto University campus area, Espoo is, by all accounts, an attractive destination for this type of a larger conference”, says Salo.

Further information on Ahti Salo: http://sal.aalto.fi/ahti


 


Medals for Aalto students in an international mathematics competition

16. August 2018

On July 22-28, a team of Aalto University students participated in the International Mathematics Competition for University Students 2018 in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria. The team was very succesful, receiving three bronze medals by Alvar Kallio, Iiro Kumpulainen, and Timo Takala. The result was better than last year, when Osama Abuzaid was the only bronze medalist.

As in the International Math Olympiad for high school students, several medals of each colour were given. This year the requirement for a bronze medal was a position within the best 250 out of a total of 351 participants. The best competitors came from the universities of Saint Petersburg and Göttingen.

Participation in the competition was funded by the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters. More information can be obtained from Pekka Alestalo, who acted as the team leader, as well as from the official website containing the results and the problems with solutions from all years.


Master's thesis worker to innovate packaging solutions

27. June 2018
Aalto University and VTT will set up a competence center CERES to develop new materials for securing a sustainable future. CERES will develop new materials for packaging, advanced textiles and separation systems, as well as semiconductors, composites and solutions for energy harvesting and storage. For this, plant-based biomass such as lignocellulose will be used to go beyond the materials produced from fossil carbon. Lignocellulose is thus the future plastics and much beyond.

The project is now looking for a

Master’s thesis worker

We are seeking to hire a full-time master’s thesis worker for a fixed term of 9 months starting in autumn 2018. Eligible applicants have completed most of their master’s degree studies. The responsibility of the master’s thesis worker will be to innovate paper/paperboard-based folding packaging solutions suitable for industrial production to replace plastic packaging. Applicants from various backgrounds ranging from engineering to design will be considered. Preference will be given to applicants with previous knowledge of paper/paperboard materials, but applicants do not have to be familiar with the mathematical background of folding. The School of Science, Department of Mathematics is coordinating the project.

Apply for this position no later than 31 August 2018 via this link, and attach the following documents:

-        an open application

-        cv

-        a transcript of records (does not have to be official)

Additional information: Kirsi Peltonen (kirsi.peltonen@aalto.fi).


Defence of dissertation in the field of mathematics, Mikael Laaksonen, M.Sc.(Tech.), 10.8.2018

18. June 2018

Mikael Laaksonen, M.Sc.(Tech.), will defend the dissertation "On Numerical Solution of Multiparametric Eigenvalue Problems" on 10 August 2018 at 12 noon at the Aalto University School of Science, lecture hall M1, Otakaari 1, Espoo. In the dissertation, methods for solving vibrations of structures with uncertainty in the material coefficients or the computational domain are studied.

Prof. Dr. Daniel Kressner, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, will act as the opponent. Custos is Professor Nuutti Hyvönen, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis. Dissertation press release is available at: http://sci.aalto.fi/en/current/events/2018-06-07-004/.


Agile security for cloud systems? Moti Yung to give a HAIC Talk at Aalto

12. June 2018

Yung is particularly known for coining the term ‘cryptovirology’ and the principles behind it. At his HAIC Talk he will explain how, in ‘the cloud era’, software design and security tool development should be able to keep up with the constantly evolving ecosystem and take note of how cloud systems keep evolving.

yung.pngAdhering to what he calls “agile principles” could also protect cloud systems from attacks and breaches.

‘In an environment where software development, updates and projects are always ongoing, also the cryptography and security designer should be in a state of adaptation to the system's evolution. I will demonstrate this in my talk based on a heavily-used real-world application,’ says Yung, referring to Google’s Advertisement Exchange, which supports the company’s multi-billion-dollar digital advertising.

Designing security tools and cryptographic solutions with the ever-extending scope and inevitable scaling up of the cloud system – such as Google’s Advertisement Exchange, Yung’s focus point in the upcoming talk – would be a way to avoid overly complex changes and loads of development overhead later on.

Yung finds an analogy of the ‘agility principle’ even for keeping every-day users safe from ransomware and all other kinds of attacks.

‘The two things people often think of only as disturbances – systems updates and backups – are in fact most essential! If everyone took care of them frequently, the window of opportunity for attackers would narrow considerably,’ reminds Yung.

Yung’s work on ransomware – the hijacking of systems or data from users or organisations and issuing demands for ransom for releasing the data – also becomes increasingly relevant with the current internet of things trend. The ‘things’ will enable new kinds of security breaches and attacks and prevention tactics need to be planned well in advance.

‘The merging of computing and physical devices will lead to new attacks where ransomware will be replaced by physical consequences.’

‘Any element of the new IoT systems will be a target, and there is not enough investment in their security. Ransomware could cause a man-made disaster if we do not secure the system-level infrastructure,’ believes Yung.

He also cautions that artificial intelligence applied without safety and security in mind will lead to attacks.

Moti Yung’s HAIC Talk The Advertisement Exchange: How to Develop Agile Cryptographic Support for an Evolving Ecosystem?, 19 June at Dipoli (Lumituuli) at 6 PM:
http://www.aalto.fi/en/current/events/2018-05-07-008

The talk is open for everyone, but please sign up in advance here:
https://haic-talks.eventbrite.com


Defence of dissertation in the field of theoretical and applied mechanics, Tom Gustafsson, M.Sc.(Tech.) 20.6.2018

25. May 2018

Tom Gustafsson, M.Sc.(Tech.), will defend the dissertation "Finite Element Methods for Contact Problems" on 20 June 2018 at 12 noon at the Aalto University School of Science. In the dissertation,  the discretization of variational inequalities using mixed finite element methods is studied. A special focus is on stabilized finite element methods and their reinterpretation as Nitsche-type formulations.

Professor Peter Hansbo, Jönköping University, will act as the opponent. Custos is Professor Rolf Stenberg, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis. Dissertation press release is available at: http://sci.aalto.fi/en/current/events/2018-05-08-007/.


Defence of dissertation in the field of mathematics, Pekka Lehtelä, M.Sc.(Tech.), 18.5.2018

16. May 2018

Pekka Lehtelä, M.Sc.(Tech.), will defend the dissertation "Generalized solutions to the porous medium equation" on 18 May 2018 at 12 noon at the Aalto University School of Science. In the dissertation, the connections between various classes of generalized solutions to the porous medium equation are studied.

 

Professor Matteo Bonforte, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, will act as the opponent. Custos is Professor Juha Kinnunen, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis. Dissertation press release is available at: http://sci.aalto.fi/en/current/events/2018-04-05-002/.


Aalto ranked #5 in Europe in empirical operations and supply chain management research

14. May 2018

Aalto University ranked #5 in Europe in the core area of empirically focused research and #11 overall.

Globally, Aalto University was ranked #30 in empirical research in the field in March. More details of the rankings, see SCM Journal List.

‘We are proud of the stream of research that has resulted in a series of publications, for example, in Journal of Operations Management, the number one journal in the field,’ says professor Risto Rajala, Head of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.

In comparison to many large universities, Aalto stands out with long-standing and trusted relationships with industrial partners. Thanks to these, much of academic research at Aalto grounds on real-life data on empirical cases and can contribute to grand societal challenges: sustainable growth in industrial operation and the technology-driven transformation of business around the world and across industries.

‘Our particular strength is empirically focused research conducted in close collaboration with industries. Ranking results are not our objective in itself, but they do signal a trajectory that is based on both great talent and hard work in all areas of empirical research: systematic data collection, meticulous analysis, insightful synthesis and visionary crystallization,’ Rajala recounts.

Operations and service management research at Aalto benefits not only from close industrial collaboration but also from transdisciplinary scientific approach and research methods.

“Many departments and groups at Aalto contribute to this field. In addition to the faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management, professors and researchers from the departments of Mathematics and Systems Analysis and Information and Service Economy are integral to our effort,’ notes Rajala.

Education in the field aims to instill collaborative orientation and scientific curiosity into students from the get-go.

‘Our students learn by doing: through real-life cases and research assignments. Our degree programs are rooted in strategic management, entrepreneurial leadership, and digitalisation of operations and services. Top students are often invited to do their master’s thesis research in actual industry projects, and they are capable of conducting analytical research that is both well-grounded and rigorous.’

The SCM Journal List ranking of empirical research is based on output in journals that are primarily empirically focused (including Decision Sciences Journal, Journal of Business Logistics, Journal of Operations Management, and Journal of Supply Chain Management). The ranking of analytical research is based on output in journals that are primarily analytically-focused (including Management Science, Manufacturing and Service Operations Management, Operations Research, and Production and Operations Management).

Further information:
Risto Rajala, professor
Head of Department of Industrial Engineering and Management
Aalto University
risto.rajala@aalto.fi
tel. +358 40 353 8140


Academician Risto Nieminen elected as foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences

8. May 2018

Academician and Distinguished Professor Emeritus Risto Nieminen has been elected as an associate of the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS). NAS members and associates carry great prestige: they have made significant contributions to science and are among the most respected researchers in the world.

‘Being an associate allows me to participate in significant and interesting forecast reports – in shaping the future of physics. Also, I expect to see an increase in the number of diverse international scientific assessment tasks, such as evaluating research projects in nanoscience and scientific computing,’ explains Risto Nieminen.

Risto Nieminen serves as President of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 2018–2019. Nieminen is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Aalto University and has also served as Dean of the Aalto University School of Science during 2013–2016. He was invited to become a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in 1984.

Nieminen is a pioneer and trendsetter in nanoscience and material physics research. He has specialised in computational methods for material physics.

‘The NAS is one of the world’s strongest and most prestigious science academies. The accomplishments of my career have been recognised by a very significant scientific community, and I am very pleased and humbled to receive such an accolade, Nieminen adds.

Nieminen has carried out his scientific work in key universities and research centres in both Finland and other countries, with the main locations for his work being Helsinki University of Technology, which later became Aalto University, the IT Centre for Science at CSC, the University of Jyväskylä, NORDITA in Sweden, Cornell University in the US, and Cambridge University in England.

Among many other achievements, Nieminen received an award from the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation in recognition of his significant contribution to scientific research and his role as a multi-talented influencer in the Finnish science community. Nieminen received the honorary title of Academician of Science from the Academy of Finland in 2014.

The US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was founded in 1863 and has now 2382 active members, and 484 international associates, who are not US citizens. Around 200 members and associates of the Academy have received a Nobel Prize. All fields of science are represented in the NAS.

Academician of Science Eva-Mari Aro from the University of Turku has also been elected as an associate of the NAS. She is one of the world’s leading photosynthesis researchers. Only six Finns have previously received membership of the NAS: Academician of Science Riitta Hari, Academician of Science Olli V. Lounasmaa (1930–2002) and Professor Tuija Pulkkinen from Aalto University, and Academy Professor Kari Alitalo, Academician of Science Ilkka Hanski (1953–2016) and Academician of Science Irma Thesleff from the University of Helsinki.

Further information:

National Academy of Sciences

 


Defence of dissertation in the field of mathematics, Casimir Lindfors, M.Sc.(Tech.), 26.4.2018

18. April 2018

Casimir Lindfors, M.Sc.(Tech.), will defend the dissertation "Regularity for nonlinear parabolic partial differential equations" on 26 April 2018 at 12 noon at the Aalto University School of Science, lecture hall D, Otakaari 1, Espoo. In the dissertation nonlinear parabolic partial differential equations are studied, in particular the regularity of their solutions, such as boundedness and continuity. The main focus is on equations with Orlicz-type growth conditions that generalize the parabolic p-Laplace equation, in addition to which phase transition problems are considered.

Professor Peter Lindqvist, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, will act as the opponent. Custos is Professor Juha Kinnunen, Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis. Dissertation release is available at: http://sci.aalto.fi/en/current/events/2018-03-22-002/.


Summer school: Number theory and coding theory: contemprorary applications in security

5. April 2018

Camilla Hollanti and Anne-Maria Ernvall-Hytönen will organize a summer school "Number theory and coding theory: contemporary applications in security" at Åbo Akademi, Turku, on 28.5.-1.6.2018.

The school is aimed at students at all levels (BSc/MSc/PhD) and postdocs. The school will feature 3 introductory mini-courses, special talks, and talks contributed by the participants. Registration is free of charge and we have some travel funding available.

The MS department can financially support a limited number of student participants from Aalto, please contact Camilla asap and no later than 1.5. if you are interested in this support! Instructions for registration, talk contributions etc can be found on the school page: http://users.abo.fi/aernvall/summerschool2018/index.html. Welcome!

Poster


New hourly-paid teachers in physics recruited for autumn 2018 and spring 2019 terms

2. April 2018

The work is part-time, and the specific hours and courses will be agreed individually. The assignments include supervision of laboratory work and exercises.

The salary will be 32–43 euros per hour, based on the applicant's level of education. Extra compensation will be paid for evaluating and scoring exercises and exams, for example.

Express your interest in the position and send a transcript of record of your studies to the address assistants-physics@aalto.fi, and you will gain access to a mailing list with more information.

Decisions on the teachers for the courses in autumn 2018 will mainly be made in early June.

Further information: assistants-physics@aalto.fi.


Mathematical method exposes differences between social and healthcare providers

28. March 2018

The social and healthcare reform is gradually progressing through the Finnish Parliament, but no indices have yet been set for measuring service performance or for comparing the performance of different healthcare units. A new doctoral study from Aalto University’s Department of Mathematics and Systems Analysis presents a method for comparing social and healthcare providers with each other.

Yrjänä Hynninen, who defended his doctoral thesis in March, applied in his work the computational REA method (ratio-based efficiency analysis) for comparing healthcare units, which was developed by his supervisor Professor Ahti Salo and Professor Antti Punkka. According to Hynninen, the method can be used to assess social and healthcare services as a whole and compare different service providers and social and healthcare units.

‘The purpose of the REA method is to describe the activities of a healthcare unit in as multifaceted a manner as possible by comparing an overall assessment composed of different factors. This kind of assessment would not encourage service providers to artificially focus on only one quality index at the expense of other ones’, Hynninen explains.

The important factors to be measured and assessed include the effectiveness and timing of treatments, clinical quality, process efficiency and customer satisfaction.

‘There are often well established indices for different factors, but these are rarely examined together’, Hynninen points out.

Using this method, it is possible to generate comprehensive data about the quality and impact of healthcare unit operations, and the service coordinator can compare the area’s service providers with one another in a coordinated manner. With this public information at their disposal, customers can make considered choices between service providers – thus providing ‘freedom of choice’. At the same time, healthcare units will know from the comparative data what works well and what needs to be improved.

In his doctoral work, Hynninen used REA-method particularly for the comparison of healthcare services in Scotland. The quality criteria being compared included how long patients waited between getting a medical examination and receiving treatment, the quantity of hospital bacteria infections and waiting times in A&E.

For Finland’s social and healthcare reform, the equivalent quality indices and principles for comparing healthcare units are still under development.

‘Once the quality indices have been specified, the REA method can be used to clearly and comprehensively compare the quality and performance of the services of different healthcare units.’

There may be dozens of comparative quality indices for a single social and healthcare unit, so comparing the units with each other and forming an overall picture of the situation becomes complicated and unclear. By making use of the work of the dissertation, units can make decisions based on a comprehensive analysis that deals well with uncertainty.

‘When the best operating practices can be identified, they can then be made use of elsewhere as well. In this way, limited resources can be allocated wisely and greater health benefits can be achieved’, Hynninen emphasises.

Further information:

Yrjänä Hynninen
Aalto University
yrjana.hynninen@aalto.fi
tel. +358 50 407 5320

Ahti Salo
Professor
Aalto University
ahti.salo@aalto.fi
tel. +358 50 383 0636

Dissertation

 


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