- Systems, including intrusion tolerant clouds; critical infrastructure; large-scale survivable and secure distributed systems
- Networks, including cloud networking, overlay networks, wireless mesh networks
- Algorithms, including distributed algorithms, intrusion tolerance, fault tolerance, replication
Yair Amir, professor of computer science and director of the Distributed Systems and Networks (DSN) Lab, is a leading inventor of resilient, performant, and secure distributed systems. His innovations are making a difference across industry and in classrooms and research labs around the world.
Amir is a creator of the Spread toolkit, the first scalable group communication system with strong semantics. He led Secure Spread, developing the first robust key agreement protocols, as well as the Spines overlay network platform, the SMesh wireless mesh network, the first seamless 802.11 mesh with fast lossless handoff, the Prime Byzantine replication engine—the first to provide performance guarantees while under attack—and the Spire intrusion-tolerant SCADA for the power grid—the first to protect against both system-level and network-level attacks and compromises. Some of these technologies are deployed in mission critical systems, support data center applications, are included in commercial products, and are used for research and teaching in universities and research labs around the world. Amir, who holds 11 patents, continues to break new ground with his software innovations through enhanced releases.
As director of the DSN, he leads a team of computer scientists in inventing and developing technologies to create resilient and secure computerized networked infrastructure systems for real-world applications. Current research includes intrusion-tolerant critical infrastructure with a focus on intrusion-tolerant SCADA systems for the power grid, next-generation Internet services enabled by structured overlay networks, and high-performance communication and coordination for modern data centers.
In 2008, Amir co-founded LTN Global Communications Inc. to bring a global, real-time broadcast-quality video transport and delivery service to the marketplace. The service is used by major broadcasters including CNN, Disney, ABC, CBS, CNBC, ESPN, NBC, and PBS. Until 2016, he led the development of the LTN cloud. Amir also co-founded Spread Concepts LLC in 2000 to bridge the gap between the real world and academic research and technologies. While at JHU in the mid-90s, Amir was also a staff scientist at the Center of Excellence in Space Data and Information Sciences, The Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA. In his native Israel, he designed, implemented, and deployed a large and geographically distributed C3I system for the Israeli Defense Force.
The 2014 recipient of the Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest teaching award in the Whiting School of Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Amir was a finalist for the Excellence in Mentoring and Advising award that same year. In 2013, he was a finalist for the Excellence in Teaching Award. From 2015 to 2018, he was chair of the JHU Department of Computer Science. Amir was nominated for the DARPA agency-wide “Performer with Significant Technical Achievement” award in 2004 and was the recipient of the DARPA Dynamic Coalitions program Bytes-for-Buck trophy in 2002. His work received the Best Paper award (out of 531 submissions) in the IEEE International Conference on Distributed Computing Systems (ICDCS) in 2017. He has served on various technical program committee, including co-chair of the 2015 IFIP/IEEE Dependable Systems and Networks, and as an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Dependable and Secure Computing (2010-2013).
Amir holds a BSc in Information Systems Engineering, Computer Science (1985), an MSc (1990) from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology and a PhD (1995) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.