Descartes prize was an inspiration, says finalist

December 8, 2004

Brussels, 07 Dec 2004

The Descartes prize has exposed me to researchers working in other branches of science and has inspired me to look at my area of expertise from their point of view, Robert Stroud from Newcastle University told CORDIS News.

Dr Stroud and his team were short-listed for the EU Descartes prize in the field of information science, for their work in building intrusion-tolerant computer systems within the MAFTIA project, and are now interested in building secure systems using analogies from nature and biology.

'It would be interesting to compare the human body and computer systems and see if we can draw analogies,' Dr Stroud told CORDIS News. ' Perhaps we could build self-aware systems, i.e. a system that would be aware it was under attack and would respond.'

The objective of the MAFTIA (malicious and accidental fault tolerance for internet applications) project was to make large network infrastructures, such as the internet, safe for users. This was achieved by building intrusion-tolerant systems that are able to provide secure service, despite the presence of either malicious faults resulting from deliberate attacks or accidental faults such as device failures.

The project, which was funded under the Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) with a 2.5 million euro budget, brought together experts from five different countries.

'MAFTIA is the fourth generation of dependability projects, a throw back to Delta 4, a very early EU project,' explained Dr Stroud. 'Delta 4 had been a small scale, local area network. MAFTIA was an attempt to scale up Delta to the level of the Internet.'

In fact, MAFTIA was the world's first project to investigate a comprehensive approach to tolerating both accidental and malicious fault in large-scale distributed systems, thereby enabling them to remain operational during attack.

Dr Stroud explained to CORDIS News that he was extremely pleased to have made it to the finals, especially as he had already nominated MAFTIA for the 2003 Descartes prize but had not been retained. He lamented the fact, however, that 'no information science project has ever won the Descartes prize. It would be nice to see one win in the future,' said Dr Stroud.

For more information, on the MAFTIA project, please go to

CORDIS RTD-NEWS / © European Communities
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