Tom van Dijk - PhD student Dependable and Secure Computing

I elected to study at the University of Twente  because I wanted to complete coursework in both Applied Physics and Computer Science. Eventually, it came down to a choice between Delft University of Technology and the UT and I decided to study in Enschede, in part because it was closer to my hometown. Having studied here for over a decade, I now know that there are many other good reasons to study here.

I am in the TGS programme Dependable and Secure Computing; I conduct research at the interface of two topics: formal methods and parallel programming. The Formal Methods and Tools research group develops methods and tools for formal verification of systems. This means that, based on the specification of a model, all possible states of a problem are calculated, and the result is then used to prove certain properties. An example of such a property is there is never a forbidden condition or that a response follows within a certain period of time if a button is pushed. In my research, I devise methods to compute all possible states faster by using computers with many processers. There are techniques to make calculations (algorithms) suitable for parallel execution and I apply these to operations on binary decision diagrams. A binary decision diagram is a way to store information which is efficient with respect to memory usage.

So far, I have fulfilled a part of my 30 credits by attending summer schools, with a number of courses at the National Institute for Programming Research and Algorithms (IPA). I also participated in the TGS introductory workshop and I took Research Management, one of the courses offered by TGS. Of the things I learned during this course, one of the most important was that, in science, it is crucial to know what other researchers are doing and to know where your research fits into the rest of the field. Personally, I find that the added value of TGS lies in its useful courses on offer.

I am still not sure what my next step will be after completing my PhD. A postdoctoral position in bioinformation could definitely be interesting; but for now, I just need to focus on obtaining my PhD.