All roads lead to Rome

In a rare event of presenting some of my research I ended up traveling to Rome, Italy for a conference.  The topic I was working on was bio-inspired heuristics applications in cybersecurity, specifically collective behavior of botnets.  The ANTS 2018 conference was the venue where I got to collaborate with researchers doing some advanced implementations of collective behavior both in nature and artificial systems.

The research road to Rome

I had been exploring ways to model Botnets, their growth, survivability, resilience and collective power.  Exploring the work of Yang in nature-inspired meta-heuristics and few other researchers that have explored models such as Artificial Bee Colonies (ABC).   After collecting research data on botnets from a few Internet Service Providers (ISP) and content service providers I started looking into growth models and survivability of a botnet treating like a beehive.

After few months of exploring some of these heuristics, I proposed the work in its early stages to the ANTS 2018 conference.  The paper was accepted as an extended abstract while I continued the research with more modeling techniques (Markov Chains) and more data.  The research work lead to a very interesting way to look at Botnets as if they were Beehives with some distinct roles among the bees that help them sustain losses and continue to survive environmental changes.

There is no place like Rome

Rome was a fascinating city with the silhouettes of amazing ancient architectures and a beautiful collection of art.  I got to walk from Roma’ centro (downtown) to Vatican City trying to capture along the way Colosseum , Palatino (Palatine Hill) , Foro Romana (Roman Forum) as well as many beatuiful  basilicas. There was no end to stories to read and things to learn about history, politics, religion, art and culture.

I enjoyed listening to Italian mixed in with a variety of tourist like myself exploring this historic city. My path was also filled with small Pizerrias selling some fresh pizza slices by weight as well as variety of bread and world-famous espresso coffee.  I could not capture either the beauty of the Vatican or my path back to Rome (though corsa d’Italia) with many pictures.  A stop near a famous aqueduct quickly reminded of Asterix and Obelix’s adventure in “la corsa d’Italia.”  All along my walk was the famous stone pine trees that decorated the land with their own bio-architecture.


The conference and a look into research in Italy

The conference itself was placed in “Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche” (National Research Council) building right next to the University of Rome.   I got to meet a community that does some very high-end research on this topic of swam behavior and swarm intelligence.  I met people from at least 12 countries with a variety of research activities.  The evening poster board session proved to be invaluable in meeting more people one-on-one and exchanging ideas and approaches to research.  I also met some really advanced researchers from Italy working extensively in this field and got a deeper admiration to R&D in Italy.

A short trip to Firenze

I decided to do the one day trip with the high-speed rail to Florence (Firenze in Italian). The train took only  hour and a half for this 290 Km (180 miles) travel.  Florence is the center of medieval European culture with its fascinating Renaissance art, architecture and science in one big scoop.  A very walkable city with its own collection of basilicas, churches and historic landmarks.  I visited the Piazzale Michelangelo doing a slow jog up the hill to a spectacular sunset.  The view of Florence from this place is inspires art even in an unartistic person like me.

You tourists exploring Italy I think a week is too short to just even cover Rome and Florence. There is so much to see and explore.  The travel is reasonably priced and it is quite easy to almost walk everywhere once you are in town.  Every turn will surprise you as you explore this mysterious peninsula.