Dr Pietro Ferrara achieves Amazon Research Award in Automated Reasoning

Dr Pietro Ferrara


Amazon has announced the winners of the 2020 Amazon Research Awards. The programme is open to researchers from all over the world and offers unrestricted funds and Amazon Web Services (AWS) Promotional Credits which winners can use for services and products that enable them to carry out their research.

The programme includes 5 research areas: AI for Information Security, Alexa Fairness in AI, AWS AI, AWS Automated Reasoning, and Robotics. Submissions were evaluated for the quality of their scientific content, their creativity, and their potential impact both on the research community and on society. 

Dr Pietro Ferrara is one of the 101 winners from 59 universities around the world, making Ca’ Foscari the only Italian university on the winning list. His proposal, IAM access control policies verification and inference, obtained the prestigious award in the Automated Reasoning category, as well as $80,000 USD to invest in the project. 

Dr Ferrara’s project aims to apply static analysis techniques to identify problems related to security and privacy in softwares which use Amazon Web Services. Software vulnerability can allow malicious users, such as hackers, to enter the system without being authorised, to use services without paying for them, and to gain access to confidential information. 

By applying formal techniques to the AWS technology, Dr Ferrara’s project focuses on access policies that can specify which resources are available to users. The goal is to verify the security and automatic inference of such policies. Secure access policies are ones in which user access is limited to the resources each user needs. 

Amazon is collaborating with the academic world in finding new solutions that can offer users increasingly safer tools. “The 2020 Amazon Research Awards recipients represent a distinguished array of academic researchers who are pursuing research across areas such as ML algorithms and theory, fairness in AI, computer vision, natural language processing, edge computing, and medical research,” said Bratin Saha, vice president of AWS Machine Learning Services. “We are excited by the depth and breadth of their proposals, as well as the opportunity to advance the science through strengthened connections among academic researchers, their institutions, and our research teams.”

Author: Francesca Favaro / Translator: Joangela Ceccon