Abhishek Kumar defends his PhD thesis Towards Trustworthy Ubiquitous Computing

On Tuesday the 20th of December 2022, M.Sc. Abhishek Kumar defends his PhD thesis Towards Trustworthy Ubiquitous Computing: Bringing Privacy and Robustness to Computing in Context. The thesis is related to research done in the Department of Computer Science and in the Systems and Media group.

M.Sc. Abhishek Kumar defends his doctoral thesis Towards Trustworthy Ubiquitous Computing: Bringing Privacy and Robustness to Computing in Context on Tuesday the 20th of December 2022 at 13 o'clock in the University of Helsinki Chemicum building, Hall A129 (A. I. Virtasen aukio, 1st floor). His opponent is Associate Professor Isabel Wagner (University of Basel, Switzerland) and custos Professor Pan Hui  (University of Helsinki). The defence will be held in English. It is possible to follow the defence as a live stream at https://video.helsinki.fi/unitube/live-stream.html?room=l42.

The thesis of Abhishek Kumar is a part of research done in the Department of Computer Science and in the Media and Systems group at the University of Helsinki. His supervisor has been Professor Pan Hui (University of Helsinki).

Towards Trustworthy Ubiquitous Computing: Bringing Privacy and Robustness to Computing in Context

The vision made in the article "The Computer for the 21st Century" by Mark Weiser in the year 1991 is widely credited as laying the foundation of ubiquitous computing. In the following years, technological advances in smartphone technologies, the internet of things (IoT), and mobile networking successfully turned this vision into a reality. Users only need to carry a miniature pocket-size computer, now known as smartphones to access service anywhere and anytime. The massive deployment of edge data centers around the world has enabled users to enjoy even those services which require a significant amount of computational resources, more than those available on the smartphone. In nutshell, mobile devices, such as smartphones, have become a gateway through which all user information flows (from the user, as well as to the user).

While mobile devices have proved to be a true enabler of Mark Weiser's vision, they have also made it easy for external entities to take a peek at users' personal space more closely than ever before. Strong security measures often tend to have a high computational cost which can impede the user's quality of experience (QoE). The ubiquitous adoption of mobile devices and IoT devices such as Amazon Alexa is primarily driven by the utilities they provide to users. It is well documented that many users tend to stop using privacy/security measures after some time if they impede the quality of experience. Thus, it is essential to ensure that measures intended for protecting users' privacy and well-being do not impede users' QoE significantly.

This thesis provides a collection of novel frameworks to enable privacy and robustness in a ubiquitous environment. It focuses on both active interactions of users with smartphones and headsets in the foreground, as well as passive interactions with smart devices deployed in the background. For enabling privacy and well-being in users' daily interactions, the thesis proposes novel frameworks to enable privacy preservation in ubiquitous short text messaging and daily conversations. At the same, the thesis also considers the need for a robust interaction mechanism in the upcoming age of the metaverse. For enabling well-being in passive interactions, the thesis proposes a robust learning framework. To ensure privacy and well-being without noticeable depreciation in the quality of experience, the thesis proposes a non-probabilistic framework for multimedia context identification which has significantly lower computational overhead. Finally, the thesis proposes a vision of a paradigm shift from the current data ecosystem to the model ecosystem which will enable privacy at a macroscopic level.

Avail­ab­il­ity of the dis­ser­ta­tion

An electronic version of the doctoral dissertation is available on the e-thesis site of the University of Helsinki at http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-51-8793-2.

Printed copies will be available on request from Abhishek Kumar: abhishek.kumar@helsinki.fi.