Department of Computer Science

Distinguished Lecture Series

May 8

Jeannette Wing

Microsoft Research

Towards a Theory of Trust in Networks of Humans and Computers

3:00pm-Ryerson 251

How can I trust the information I read over the Internet? We argue that a general theory of trust in networks of humans and computers must be built on both a theory of behavioral trust and a theory of computational trust. This argument is motivated by increased participation of people in social networking, crowdsourcing, human computation, and socio-economic protocols, e.g., protocols modeled by trust and gift-exchange games, norms-establishing contracts, and scams. User participation in these protocols relies primarily on trust: trust in both the computational elements in the network and the human element. Thus, towards a general theory of trust, to computational trust, we add behavioral trust, a notion from the social and economic sciences. Behavioral trust captures participant preferences (i.e., risk and betrayal aversion) and beliefs in the trustworthiness of other protocol participants. We argue that a general theory of trust should focus on the establishment of new trust relations where none were possible before. This focus would help create new economic opportunities by increasing the pool of usable services, removing cooperation barriers among users, and at the very least, taking advantage of network effects. Hence a new theory of trust would also help focus security research in areas that promote trust-enhancement infrastructures in human and computer networks.

This work is joint with Virgil Gligor.

Jeannette Wing is Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research, with oversight of the organization’s core research laboratories around the world and Microsoft Research Connections.

Dr. Wing joined Microsoft Research in January 2013 after holding key positions in academia and government, most recently at Carnegie Mellon University and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

From 2007 to 2010, Wing served as assistant director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the NSF, where she led the directorate that funds academic computer science research in the United States. In this capacity, she worked with NSF staff to set funding priorities for the academic science and engineering research community, create new programs, and represent the nation’s computer science community. Wing has served twice as head of the Department of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University: before her term at NSF and again upon her return to Carnegie Mellon. She was also associate dean for Academic Affairs at Carnegie Mellon for five years, overseeing the educational programs offered by the School of Computer Science.

Her areas of expertise are in trustworthy computing, formal methods, concurrent and distributed systems, programming languages, and software engineering. Her research contributions include work on the Larch family of specification languages; programming language support for atomic objects in distributed transactions; with Maurice Herlihy, the notion of linearizability, a correctness condition for concurrent objects; and with Barbara Liskov, a semantics for behavioral subtyping. Her contributions in security and privacy include work on attack graphs and attack surfaces, work on formalizing privacy policies for automated compliance checking, and work on trust in networks of humans and computers.

Within the computer science community, Wing is well-known for her advocacy of “computational thinking,” an approach to problem solving, designing systems and understanding human behavior that draws upon concepts fundamental to computer science. She sees it as a “universally applicable attitude and skill set that everyone, not just computer scientists, should be eager to learn and use.” Wing has also served as the founder and director of the Center for Computational Thinking at Carnegie Mellon.

Wing was on the faculty at the University of Southern California for two years before joining the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University. As a student, she worked at Bell Laboratories and Xerox PARC. She has spent sabbaticals at MIT and MSR Redmond. Wing received the CRA Distinguished Service Award in 2011 and the SIGSOFT Retrospective Paper Award in 2012. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Wing received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Host: László Babai


Argonne National Laboratory
Computation Institute
The Chicago Center for the Theory of Computing and Allied Areas