Celebrating our new PhD graduate, Dr Md Liakat Ali

The Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems’ PhD in Computer Science program has been seeing a lot of success recently! Although still a young program, we are starting to see our talented PhD students who enrolled near the very beginning achieving their goals. We are very proud to announce the successful dissertation defenses by new PhD Dr. Md Liakat Ali!

“The last three years of my life at Pace University have taught me so many things,” said Dr. Ali. “On the very first day at Pace, I got an email from Dr. Charles C. Tappert for Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning class. At the end of email, there was a quote: ‘If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research.’ – Einstein. Dr. Tappert, my supervisor, a wonderful professor and an expertise in biometric areas . . . inspired me in so many ways to complete my PhD.”

Dr. Ali’s dissertation, “A Hybrid Generative/Discriminative Approach to Machine Learning Problems with Application to Keystroke Biometrics,” involved the design and implementation of a novel method for tackling machine learning problems that worked to increase security using keystoke biometrics. The way we interact with our devices gives clues to who we are: how we swipe screens, the pressure we exert, the speed with which we type; all of this can be used as identifying factors that can be used to further secure our devices and digital accounts.

Currently, Dr. Ali is a Computer Science professor at Caldwell University, NJ, and is committed to continuing to pass on his knowledge in the classroom. “[M]y goals are to teach IT courses with most advanced theory and practical application, making students’ enthusiastic for advancement in technology and increasing their opportunity. I would like to continue teaching and research in Computer Science.”

Dr. Charles Tappert, Dr. Md Liakat Ali, Dr. Lixin Tao, and Dr. Li-Chiou Chen

He has published more than 20 international conference and journal papers, including at IEEE conferences on Smart Cloud, Cybersecurity and Cloud Computing, and Big Data Security on Cloud.

Fellow PhD student Avery Leider attended Ali’s defense. “What was awesome about Liakat Ali’s PhD Dissertation is that he continued research that was done earlier by the first PhD of the Computer Science PhD program at Pace University, John Vincent “Vinnie” Monaco, who did groundbreaking work in user authentication using the biometrics of how a person types on the keyboard. Vinnie now works as a Computer Scientist at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. Ali used that research, and went farther than Vinnie did, making this closer to being able to be used every day. Ali and Vinnie were both students of Dr. Tappert, who advised them on their PhD dissertations because that is work that he has been interested in for years. Maybe Pace University will become famous for keystroke biometrics!”

Celebrating our latest PhD success: Dr. Mohammad “Vahid” Vahidalizadehdizaj!

We are delighted to share that Mohammad “Vahid” Vahidalizadehdizaj has freshly earned the title of “Dr.” following the successful defense of his PhD thesis!

A student of the PhD in Computer Science program, Vahid chose to explore security and privacy in e-commerce over mobile phones. This is an issue that requires continuous attention, and a very worthy one of doctoral level study.

Dr. Lixin Tao was the advisor for Vahid’s journey to doctorate. The committee was comprised of Dr. Charles Tappert and Dr. Mehdi Badii; Professor Avery Leider and fellow PhD candidate, Nikhil Saxena, were also present – and Professor Leider took several videos to document the moment!

“It was fun watching Vahid defend and defend his thesis against all comers,” said Prof. Leider.

Vahid is our second ever student to earn a PhD, joining Dr. Vinnie Monaco as one of our incredible PhD alums.

The new Dr. Vahidalizadehdizaj said: “I want to thank my mother and father for supporting me on this road. I want to thank Dean Jonathan Hill and Dr. Paul Benjamin for their guidance. I want to thank my advisor, Dr. Lixin Tao for his advice. I want to thank my wonderful committee members Dr. Charles Tappert and Dr. Badii for their wise comments and questions.”

Here’s the abstract of Vahid’s dissertation, “An Efficient Decentralized Mobile Payment Protocol With Improved Security and Privacy”:

The exponential growth of mobile devices makes them a suitable computing platform for electronic payment. However, there are serious challenges in e-commerce transactions, such as privacy protection, security, bandwidth limitations of mobile networks, and limited capabilities of mobile devices to handle excess or indirect computational time. The traditional e-commerce payment protocols that were originally designed to keep track of the traditional flows of data from desktop computers are vulnerable to attacks, and because they were not designed for mobile platforms, have excessive engineering overhead. In this thesis, a new private mobile payment protocol is introduced that is designed specifically for the mobile platform. It is based on a client-centric model that utilizes symmetric key operations. The protocol reduces the computational cost (the engineering overhead) of Diffie-Hellman key agreement protocol by using the algebra of logarithms instead of the algebra of exponents. The protocol achieves proper privacy protection for the payer by involving mobile network operators and generating temporary identities. It avoids replay attacks by using random time-stamp generated numbers.

Congratulations Dr. Vahid – we can’t wait to see where your new qualification takes you!

Vinnie Monaco makes Seidenberg history with first PhD in Computer Science

Monaco_1John “Vinnie” Monaco recently made an achievement that is a milestone in Seidenberg School history: he successfully defended his PhD dissertation and became the school’s first ever Doctor of Philosophy in Computer Science! We are absolutely delighted with Vinnie’s success and can’t wait to see where his new qualification takes him.

Vinnie’s dissertation, “Time Intervals as a Behavioral Biometric,” isn’t just significant for the Seidenberg School, but it is also important within the field of behavioral biometrics. We asked Vinnie to provide some insight into the research he did: 

“My work attempts to identify people based on the way they behave over time,” says Vinnie. “The model I proposed utilizes individual differences in temporal behavior across a range of scales, such as typing, sending emails, initiating financial transactions, or visiting the White House. The significance of this is that only event timestamps are required. This breaks down the privacy barrier that was thought to exist using tools that provide spatial anonymity, such as TOR, and calls for new identity-masking techniques. To be truly anonymous in the 21st century, a person has to not only hide their IP address or location; they have to also mask their behavior in some way.”

Pretty amazing stuff!


Vinnie’s defense was overseen by his dissertation committee (pictured, from left to right, Dr. Lixin Tao, Dr. Vinnie Monaco, Dr. Charles Tappert, and Dr. Meikang Qui).

On his impact at the Seidenberg School, Vinnie said: “I’m proud to have been the first PhD graduate from Seidenberg. I think that the school is starting to attract a greater number of quality researchers, both students and faculty, and I’m confident that the Seidenberg School will continue to be recognized as a leading institution in behavioral cybersecurity research.”

Congratulations to Dr. Monaco on his enormous achievement!