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Fletcher Joins DARPA ISAT Study Group, Giving Illinois CS 3 Members Of Exclusive Panel

8/19/2019 4:54:06 PM By David Mercer, Illinois Computer Science

Assistant Professor Christopher Fletcher has joined the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Information Science and Technology Study Group. He joins Professors Sarita Adve and Karrie Karahalios to give Illinois Computer Science three researchers on the prestigious 30-member panel, a 10th of its membership.
“One of the great things about ISAT is the sheer breadth of expertise, and I expect interacting with other members to have a strong influence on the topics I pursue.” -- Assistant Professor Christopher Fletcher.
“One of the great things about ISAT is the sheer breadth of expertise, and I expect interacting with other members to have a strong influence on the topics I pursue.” -- Assistant Professor Christopher Fletcher.

Fletcher joins DARPA’s rotating group of scientists and engineers at what he calls a unique moment for computer architecture, his area of expertise.

“Not only is the field having to reinvent itself to combat efficiency walls such as the slowing of Moore’s Law, but processors all of a sudden became the front line in the battle to build secure systems,” Fletcher said. “My research addresses how to build hardware systems with broad security guarantees. As part of ISAT, I plan to champion this philosophy so that, as we invent Computer Architecture 2.0, security is a first-class citizen alongside traditional metrics such as performance and energy efficiency.”

DARPA has relied on the ISAT Study Group for three decades to provide independent analysis and assessment of defense-related information science and technology, identifying opportunities for innovation.

Adve, the Richard T. Cheng Professor of Computer Science, began her three-year term in the summer of 2017. Karahalios joined the ISAT Study Group in 2018.

Fletcher said he first became involved with ISAT through Adve by attending member-led studies, and says he now has a similar opportunity to connect other researchers to the group and its work.

Others involved in the ISAT Study Group often say that a willingness to serve the field is a key attribute for potential members. Fletcher looks forward to the service aspect of the work.

“By interacting with the community, your own approach and philosophy rubs off and that creates impact just like the papers we publish,” he said. “Being a part of ISAT is especially fulfilling in this regard, since you have a chance to influence the faucet of ideas that flow to the rest of the community for the foreseeable future.”

But he says that, beyond focusing on the role of architecture in security, he goes into his term with ISAT with no fixed ideas about what his research contributions might be.

“I want to go in with an open mind,” Fletcher said. “One of the great things about ISAT is the sheer breadth of expertise, and I expect interacting with other members to have a strong influence on the topics I pursue.”