Dave Levin Receives NSF CAREER Award

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Assistant Professor Dave Levin  receives the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award for a project titled "Automatically Learning to Evade Internet Censorship".

The funded project focuses on automating the discovery of censorship evasion techniques, developing new ways to measure censorship, and scaling up undergrad research.

“The Internet provides an open platform for communication, diplomacy, and education. But this is challenged by censorship of Internet traffic, details of which are typically not made publicly known”, said Levin.  “For decades, security researchers have engaged in  developing new schemes to evade censors, who in turn have developed increasingly sophisticated countermeasures”, he explained. 

The awarded project proposes to develop artificial intelligence to automate the discovery of new methods for evading and understanding nation-state censors.The proposed research follows three objectives: (1) Developing new AI-based techniques for automatically evading in-network censors of various kinds, (2) Deploying AI-assisted censorship evasion strategies and developing new algorithms to efficiently scale-up discovery of new strategies via collaborative, crowd-sourced training, and (3) Performing AI-assisted measurement of censorship at unprecedented scale. 

The proposed work includes an education plan that seeks to address the meteoric rise of enrollment in undergraduate computer science programs, by exploring ways to scale-up and broaden participation in undergraduate research. UMD’s Computer Science major has one of the highest student-to-faculty ratios in the country. “The size of our department creates a great opportunity to study scaling-up undergraduate research,” said Levin, “because we have so many undergraduates who want to—and ought to—do research.” Levin’s proposal will explore group undergraduate research projects through his Breakerspace lab.

In addition to being an Assistant professor in Computer Science, Levin holds joint appointments in University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies and is a faculty in the Maryland Cybersecurity Center.

The proposed research plan aims at making evasion software freely available for censored users thereby assisting millions of users around the world in achieving open access to information.

Follow the progress of the Project- Here

More about Breakerspace- Here

More about Levin’s research- Here




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