Adam Ding in front of a tree
Associate Professor Adam Ding

Aidong “Adam” Ding, Associate Professor in Mathematics, sits down with the College of Science Graduate Program staff to talk about his research at Northeastern University.

What can you tell us about your current research?
As a statistician, I work on methods that quantify and extract information from data. One of my current project seeks to quantify information leakage through physical side-channels, a practical security threat to physical implementation of cryptographic algorithms. Increasingly the cryptographic algorithms are embedded in chips and devices for secure processing of everyday transactions, such as in smartcards, internet-of-things and cloud computing. Side-channel attacks are emerging as a major threat to those widely used devices. The statistical modeling provides theoretical guidance, and improve the evaluation of device resistance to the side-channel attacks. These models also contribute to the development of automatic software side-channel countermeasures implementation in a collaborative project with engineering and computer science faculties at Northeastern University.

Another current project studies methods to detect complex nonlinear relationships in large amount of data. Discovery of novel nonlinear relationships are important to improve existing models in many scientific fields. An ‘equitable’ dependence measure is proposed that rank the relationships in data by their signal strengths, regardless of the functional shapes. In collaboration with engineering faculties, we seek to apply the method in climate modeling for marine science applications.

What drew you to your field?
I have liked to play with numbers since childhood, and went on to study mathematics in college. I switched from pure mathematics topics to statistics in graduate school, as statistics attracted me as the quantitative science that has clear applications in many areas. While the statistical theory maintains the beauty of rigorous mathematical derivations, the connections to practical rather than abstract problems is a major attraction. It has the best of both worlds: I can enjoy solving mathematical problems while anticipating impacts on real world applications.

What do you like most about being a faculty member at Northeastern?
I enjoy being able to pursue academic research problems of my own choice, and able to work with students eager to learn.

What is your favorite part about Northeastern?
The atmosphere of fast change and growth.

What is your favorite part about Boston?
The Chinatown of Boston has many great restaurants. This seaport city has metropolitan features, many museums, sports teams, etc., without being too crowded as the big city like New York.

What advice would you give to new and current COS graduate students?
Be proactive, reach out to faculty members and staffs. There are many resources on campus for student support. As the director for the Applied Mathematics Master program, I sometime find that the students were not utilizing those resources after the fact.