Benjamin Kaminski

kaminski2
Email
benjamin.kaminski at cs.rwth-aachen.de
Address
Room 4230
Ahornstraße 55
D-52074 Aachen
Phone
+49 241 80 21208

I have moved to become a Professor at Saarland University.
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I am also a Lecturer at the Programming Principles, Logic and Verification Group (PPLV) at University College London (UCL).

Before moving to UCL, I did my PhD here at the Software Modeling and Verification Group (MOVES) headed by Professor Prof. Joost-Pieter Katoen. I was associated with the DFG Research Training Group (DFG-Graduiertenkolleg) Uncertainty and Randomness in Algorithms, Verification, and Logic (UnRAVeL) and a member of its steering committee.

Thesis

In February 2019, I have defended my PhD thesis titled Advanced Weakest Precondition Calculi for Probabilistic Programs. Please find more information on my thesis, including a PDF version, by clicking the cover on the right.

The thesis gives a comprehensive introduction to weakest preexpectation reasoning and features (amongst others) calculi for verifying expected runtimes and probabilistic programs with conditioning. A Special focus is put on inductive proof rules for reasoning about loops.

Research

My research interests include

  • semantics and formal verification of probabilistic programs,
  • quantitative verification techniques,
  • verification of non-functional requirements,
  • machine learning and verification,
  • explainable verification,
  • recursion theory, and
  • (mathematical) logic.

For a list of publications and a list of selected talks, see the bottom of this page.

You can also find me on dblp and Google Scholar.

Awards

Distinguished Paper Award at POPL 2021

Our paper A Pre-expectation Calculus for Probabilistic Sensitivity (joint work with Alejandro Aguirre, Gilles Barthe, Justin Hsu, Joost-Pieter Katoen, and Christoph Matheja) has received the Distinguished Paper Award at POPL 2021. The paper describes a weakest-precondition-style calculus for reasoning about relational properties and sensitivity of probabilistic programs. At most 10% of all accepted papers are designated as distinguished papers.

Best Paper Award at LOPSTR 2020

Our paper Generating Functions for Probabilistic Programs (joint work with Lutz Klinkenberg, Kevin Batz, Joost-Pieter Katoen, Joshua Moerman, and Tobias Winkler) has received the Best Paper Award at LOPSTR 2020. The paper describes how to employ probability generating functions in verification of probabilistic programs.

Ackermann Award 2020

My PhD Dissertation Advanced Weakest Precondition Calculi for Probabilistic Programs has been honored with the Ackermann Award 2020 of the EACSL. The Ackermann Award is awarded for outstanding dissertations in Computer Science Logic.

Nomination for Dissertation Award of the GI

My PhD Dissertation Advanced Weakest Precondition Calculi for Probabilistic Programs was nominated for the Dissertation Award of the German Informatics Society (GI). It was the single nomination out of all computer science dissertations defended in 2019 at RWTH Aachen.

Nomination for Teaching Award 2019

My colleagues Jera Hensel, Tim Quatmann, Matthias Volk, and I were nominated for the Teaching Award 2019 awarded by the student body of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences.

Borchers Badge

I have been awarded the Borchers Badge in 2019 for receiving a Doctoral degree (PhD) with distinction.

Select Attendee of Heidelberg Laureate Forum

I was a selected attendee of the 7th Heidelberg Laureate Forum.

Best Paper Award at SUM 2018

Our paper Rule-based Conditioning of Probabilistic Data (joint work with Maurice van Keulen, Christoph Matheja and Joost-Pieter Katoen) has received the Best Paper Award at SUM 2018. The paper presents how to integrate evidences into a probabilistic database by means of conditioning.

Nomination for EATCS Best Paper Award at ETAPS (ESOP) 2018

Our paper How long, O Bayesian network, will I sample thee? A program analysis perspective on expected sampling times (joint work with Kevin Batz, Joost-Pieter Katoen, and Christoph Matheja) was nominated for the EATCS Best Paper Award at ETAPS 2018. The paper shows how to use deductive program verification to deduce the expected time to obtain a single i.i.d-sample from a Bayesian network when using rejection sampling. The approach has been automated and shows that determining expected sampling times of the order of millions of years for large BNs can be done in a matter of seconds.

LMW 2017 Scholarship

I was awarded the Logic Mentoring Workshop 2017 Scholarship by ACM SIGLOG in 2017.

FITweltweit Scholarship by the DAAD

I was awarded the FITweltweit scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in 2016.

EATCS Best Paper Award at ETAPS (ESOP) 2016

Our paper Weakest Precondition Reasoning for Expected Run-Times of Probabilistic Programs (joint work with Joost-Pieter Katoen, Christoph Matheja, and Federico Olmedo) has received the EATCS Best Paper Award for the best theory paper presented at ETAPS 2016. The paper presents a wp-style calculus for probabilistic programs to analyze their expected runtimes, together with a set of proof rules for loops, and shows its application to several examples, including the coupon collector’s problem. Find a picture of the four happy award winners here.

Nomination for Teaching Award 2015

My colleague Christian Dehnert and I were nominated for the Teaching Award 2015 awarded by the student body of the Faculty of Mathematics, Computer Science and Natural Sciences. The winner of the award was Wied Pakusa whom I was more than lucky to have as a tutor when I was an undergraduate student.

Springorum Commemorative Coin

I have been awarded the Springorum Commemorative Coin in 2014 for receiving a master’s degree with distinction.

Students

I am currently supervising my student research assistant Lena Verscht. Together with Christoph Matheja I have supervised our student research assistant Kevin Batz. Furthermore, I have supervised the following thesis and internship projects:

  • Lena Verscht. Weakest Preexpectation Reasoning for Amortized Expected Runtimes. Bachelor’s Thesis.
  • Lutz KlinkenbergOn Probability Generating Functions for Program Analysis. Master’s thesis. 
  • Kevin Batz. IC3 for Probabilistic Systems. Master’s thesis. (together with Sebastian Junges and Christoph Matheja
  • Sonja Skiba. Towards Completeness of a Proof Rule for Almost-sure Termination. Bacherlor’s thesis.
  • David Herzkamp. Hardness of Probabilistic Termination with Nondeterminism. Bachelor’s thesis.
  • Joshua Peignier (ENS Rennes). Possibility Distribution Semantics for Probabilistic Programs with Nondeterminism. 2017. Internship project. (together with Christoph Matheja)
  • Sven Deserno, Probabilistic Model Checking for Markov Chain Families. 2017. Master’s thesis. (together with Sebastian Junges)
  • Kevin BatzProof Rules for Expected Run-Times of Probabilistic Programs. 2017. Bachelor’s thesis. (together with Christoph Matheja).
  • Simon Feiden. Extending Probability Generating Function Semantics to Negative Variable Valuations. 2016. Bachelor’s thesis.
  • Clara ScherbaumProbability Generating Function Semantics for Probabilistic Programs. 2016. Bachelor’s thesis. (winner of the itestra innovation Award for outstanding bachelor theses)

Peer Review

Editorial Board Memberships

Program Committees

  • LICS 2022 – 37th Annual Symposium on Logic in Computer Science
  • POPL 2022 – 48th ACM SIGPLAN Symposium on Principles of Programming Languages
  • CAV 2021 – 33rd Int’l Conf. on Computer-Aided Verification
  • CONCUR 2020 – 31st Int’l Conf. on Concurrency Theory, part of QONFEST 2020
  • LPAR23 – 23rd Int’l Conf. on Logic for Programming, Artificial Intelligence and Reasoning (2020)
  • QEST 2019 – 16th Int’l Conf. on Quantitative Evaluation of SysTems
  • QEST 2018 – 15th Int’l Conf. on Quantitative Evaluation of SysTems, part of CONFESTA 2018

External Reviewer

Research Funding Proposals

  • Czech Science Foundation (GACR) (2019)

Edited Volumes

Journals

  • Mathematical Structures in Computer Science (MSCS) (2020)
  • Theoretical Computer Science (TCS) (2020)
  • Transactions on Computational Logic (TOCL) (2017)
  • Transactions on Modeling and Computer Simulation (TOMACS) (2020)
  • Transactions on Programming Languages and Systems (TOPLAS) (2019)

Conferences

Teaching

Other Activities

I was a member of the Teaching Committee (Kommission für Lehre) of the Department of Computer Science at RWTH Aachen University from 2014 till 2018.

I was a member of several search committees for full professorships (W2 and W3, including an Alexander von Humboldt professorship) in the fields of Neural Computing, Machine Learning, and Data Science.

I gave several popular scientific talks for interested high school students, e.g. at Aachener Informatiktage 2014Erstinfotag 2014, or Beratungstage 2018.

I participated in the BeBuddy program of RWTH’s International Office.

I am a founding director of The Weissbord Institute.