Prof. Riccardo Sisto

Thesis Proposals

The proposed theses are all related to research activities of the NetGroup. Most of them are about distributed software development and formal approaches for guaranteeing dependability (mainly safety and security) of distributed systems.
The number of distributed systems that can be considered critical (in terms of safety and security) is constantly increasing due to the increasing pervasiveness of computer-based systems (e.g. in the fields of avionics, automotive, industry, health care, e-commerce, e-banking, etc.), hence the growing importance of techniques for increasing their dependability.
The theses that are currently available are listed here:
  1. A framework for Virtual Network Functions (VNF) modeling and Service Graph verification in SDN/Cloud context
  2. Design and implementation of a distributed application to support navigation within logistic hubs
  3. Cloud service programming and modeling
This page will be updated with new proposals as they will become available.
For further information contact Prof. Riccardo Sisto.

  A framework for Virtual Network Functions (VNF) modeling and Service Graph verification in SDN/Cloud context

The networking panorama has dramatically evolved towards flexible and dynamic virtualization technologies, which allow the deployment of complex network services and functionalities. According to this trend, some functions (firewall, caches, NAT, etc.) that were traditionally deployed by means of static appliances, are now becoming light software images that can be managed very easily thus allowing frequent reconfiguration of network service graphs in a cloud-like environment.
In this context, a key challenge is represented by the need of continuously ensuring (before deploying) that some desired network properties or invariants are always guaranteed, especially in networks where automatic reconfiguration is expected to be triggered very frequently in response to higher-level events (customer requests, administrator actions, etc.). As an example of such properties, a network operator may require that a given network configuration is always loop-free or a customer may want to be sure that all the traffic traverses a firewall for security reasons and so on. The objective of the thesis is to define and implement a framework that allows the interested actors to define the behavior of any VNF in a Java-like fashion and allows the extraction of an abstract model from the Java code in order to verify the above mentioned network properties. Lastly, the set of developed tools and libraries will be integrated in an existing software, which is already able to verify some basic network.

Design and implementation of a distributed application to support navigation within logistic hubs

Logistic hubs are (possibly very large) areas for transhipment, storage, collection and distribution of goods. A logistic hub can include interconnected terminals, transhipment areas, parkings, etc.
The aim of the thesis is the design and development of a distributed application that can support the navigation of trucks within a logistic hub. The leading idea is that a truck arriving at the hub is guided within the hub to its final destination, taking into consideration possible interferences between different trucks that may be present within the hub at the same time (for example, if a truck is transporting dangerous goods, it may be required that it does not stay or transit close to other trucks) and the characteristics of the hub (e.g. the capacity of a parking area). It will be assumed that the truck driver has a mobile device (e.g. a smartphone) connected to the internet, so that it can interact with the hub IT services and can share its position with these services.
When a truck is arriving close to the hub, an application in the mobile device gets in touch with the hub services and some information about the truck itself and the transported goods is exchanged with the hub services. The hub services can authorize the truck to enter the hub, in which case they assign the truck an entrance gate, a final destination, and a path to be followed in the hub in order to reach it. Finally, the truck movements are tracked by the hub services till the truck reaches its destination, while the truck driver is guided by the application on the mobile device.
The truck position and other information about the hub itself are made available to administrators through web-based monitoring applications.
The application protocols used by the system are based on web services, and the data formats must conform to the standards commonly used in the transportation domain. The work is part of a research project that aims at designing a future generation digital ecosystem for logistic hub networks. The project is in cooperation with Almaviva, a leading Italian software developer for the logistic domain.

Cloud service programming and modeling

Highly distributed Cloud services, ranging from microservice architectures to network function virtualization (NFV) systems, are emerging as a way for providing high flexibility and fast reconfiguration in the services offered to remote users. Given their high programmability, these systems require the introduction of powerful policy verification techniques, as well as proper programming interfaces that facilitate this verification by construction. The thesis work aims at defining user-friendly (e.g., Java-like) domain-specific languages that can simplify the service creation and its modeling for verification purposes, with particular focus on policy control.
The thesis is in collaboration with the Colorado State University, USA (, where the candidate is asked to spend some months working on the selected problem.

Last change: January 2018