You are here

Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) program

The David Cheriton School of Computer Science offers opportunities to exceptional students through the Undergraduate Research Assistant (URA) program that allows students to earn $600 a term for part-time research with a faculty member. The money is paid once near the end of the term.

Faculty members post openings each term so interested, eligible students can apply. Students can also contact faculty members if they are interested in specific research areas to see if a URA opportunity might be available.

Any student who has completed their second year in the Faculty of Mathematics with an average of at least 80% is eligible. Preference is given to students enrolled in Computer Science major plans. A student can only do one URA per term. A student cannot be on a co-op term while doing a URA.

Fall 2016 positions

Title: Pricing Models for Cloud Services


Cloud service providers such as Amazon charge fees for using different machines instances from their infrastructure-as-a-service offering.  I am looking for a URA to study current pricing models and to analyze and propose a new model for cloud pricing.  A strong background in statistics/applied math is required. 

Senior undergraduate students should email Khuzaima Daudjee at kdaudjee@uwaterloo.ca


Optimizing Shortest Paths Queries in Graph Databases

 
We are looking for 1 URA to contribute to an ongoing project studying different optimization techniques to speed up shortest paths queries in graph databases. Graphs, consisting of a set of nodes, edges and data on the nodes and vertices, are the fundamental abstraction for representing many types of data in the real world. Examples include social networks, such as Facebook's or LinkedIn's data, the web graph, such as Google and Yahoo's data, protein to protein interactions in biological data, and molecule interactions in chemical data, among others. Graph databases are software that allow users to store, manage, and query such graph data. One of the fundamental queries in graph databases ask to find short (or shortest) paths between a pair of nodes. For example, when a user A is viewing a user B's profile in LinkedIn, user A is shown the shortest path that is connecting user A to user B. In order to facilitate such applications, it is important to be able to answer shortest paths queries very quickly.
 
I am looking for a student to investigate several optimizations for several variants of shortest paths queries. The tasks include implementing these optimizations in a graph database called Neo4j and running experiments to measure how much these optimizations improve queries.
 
Interested students should contact Semih Salihoglu at semih.salihoglu@uwaterloo.ca.
 

Database for Specialized Optometric Records

Data collected by specialized optometric equipment is available as comma-separated files, which are currently manipulated through spreadsheet software to produce patient-specific clinical reports. It would be useful to be able to access these reports in conjunction with a patient’s electronic medical record, and therefore we wish to store the data in a database with a web-based front end. We have begun this task by building a web interface and relational database backend for managing data collected from one of the optometric measurement devices. We’d like to continue to design and implement a federated database system that provides access to such supplementary clinical data repositories in a clinical setting.

One challenge is to continue to adapt the database to various types of optometric data.  When an interface is required for data from a new device, new relations should be easily defined and the data loaded into the database. A second challenge is to design and implement one or more front ends that provide convenient access to the data, including visualizations and comparative reports.

The computer science aspects of the work will be supervised by Prof. Frank Tompa (CS).  Prof. Kristine Dalton (Optometry) will provide sample data and help to specify the content and user-interface requirements of the project.

Familiarity or experience with using Python, the Django framework, MySQL, and GitHub is a definite asset.

For more information please contact Dr. Frank Tompa (fwtompa@uwaterloo.ca)


Title: Cache Management for Graph Database Systems

I am looking for a senior URA to study caching protocols in graph database systems.  The task would be to understand existing cache management protocols for an open source graph database system such as Neo4j and to then design, implement and test an improved cache management scheme for graph database workloads. 

Senior undergraduate students interested and comfortable with working and building systems (operating systems, distributed systems, database systems) should email Khuzaima Daudjee at kdaudjee@uwaterloo.ca


Title: Privacy Vulnerabilities on Android

We have developed an app that analyzes the network traffic of all apps on a smartphone in order to detect leakage incidents, where an app sends sensitive user information across the network https://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~uhengart/publications/spsm15.pdf

In a previous URA, a UI that informs users of leakage incidents was added to the app.

The first goal of the proposed URA is to thoroughly test the app and UI with several applications and address any issues that may arise so that the app can be released on Google Play. The second goal is to add additional features to the app, such as providing more detailed information about leakage incidents or coming up with simple ways to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate leakage incidents.

Android development experience is required.

Interested students should email Urs Hengartner urs.hengartner@uwaterloo.ca


Title: Shatter Client for iOS

Shatter is a framework that allows a user's devices to jointly perform cryptographic operations such that the impact of a lost or stolen device remains limited. For example, you need both your watch and your smartphone to initiate an encrypted IM session. A thief stealing your smartphone will not be able to impersonate you. Shatter is implemented in Java and currently runs on Android, Android Wear, and Linux. The goal of this URA is to port Shatter to iOS.

Ideal applicants are experienced iOS developers. Cryptography background would also be an asset.

Interested students should contact: Urs Hengartner urs.hengartner@uwaterloo.ca


Title: Enhancing a Main-Memory DBMS

We are looking for up to three students to fill URA positions to work on a main-memory database management system. The system is mainly coded in common lisp, but also has components written in C, Bison, Flex and csh. It is a "compiling" DBMS that has a simple extensible runtime and operates by translating SQL-like data manipulation requests directly to C code that interfaces with this runtime. The underlying data model is a generalization of the relational data model in which, among other things, arbitrary inheritance hierarchies may be declared.

During the course of the project, students will increase their familiarity with a range of topics, among which: semantic data modelling, query optimization, A* search, transaction compilation, legacy data integration, rule-based translation and source code synthesis.

Ideal applicants will have a solid background in algorithms and data structures, and a particular interest in program translation. Experience with programming in a functional style would also be an asset.

Interested students should contact Grant Weddell gweddell@cs.uwaterloo.ca


Title: Computational Finance using GPU/Multi-core Systems

One or more URAs are required for the project. Option pricing is one of the central activities in computational finance. In practice, it is important that one can obtain the solutions fast and accurate. The research project is to explore new computing technology in order to solve the equations from computational finance fast, and ideally in real time. The project will particularly focus on GPU/Multi-core implementation of the computational methods in finance.

Students working in this project are preferred to have background in: calculus and linear algebra, numerical computation, and programming experience in C/C++. They will be involved in: 1) GPU implementation (e.g. CUDA, OpenCL) of numerical methods for computational finance, and/or 2) user interface with Excel spreadsheet. Students are expected to write up the final results including the documentation of the code developed.

Interested students should email Professor Justin Wan justin.wan@uwaterloo.ca


Title: Computational Finance on Android and iOS Devices

One or more URAs are required for the project. Option pricing is one of the central activities in computational finance. In practice, it is important that one can obtain the solutions fast and accurate. The research project is to explore new computing technology in order to solve the equations from computational finance. The project will particularly focus on implementation of the computational methods on Android and iOS devices. Smart phones have been popular portable devices which possess an excellent user interface as well as increasing computing power. This project is to investigate the possibility of solving finance equations using smart phones rather than the traditional PCs.

Students working in this project are preferred to have background in: calculus and linear algebra, numerical computation, and programming experience in C/C++. They will be involved in: 1) implementation of numerical methods for computational finance on Android or iOS devices, and 2) user interface. Students are expected to write up the final results including the documentation of the code developed.

Interested students should email Professor Justin Wan justin.wan@uwaterloo.ca


Title: Computational Graphics using GPU/Multi-core Systems

One or more URAs are required for the project. Physically-based animation requires solving complex equations, which is often the computational bottom neck. The research project is to explore new computing technology in order to solve the equations from physically-based animation fast, and ideally in real time. The project will particularly focus on GPU/Multi-core implementation of the computational methods.

Students working in this project are preferred to have background in: calculus and linear algebra, numerical computation, and programming experience in C/C++. They will be involved in GPU implementation (e.g. CUDA, OpenCL) of advanced numerical methods. Students are expected to write up the final results including the documentation of the code developed.

Interested students should email Professor Justin Wan justin.wan@uwaterloo.ca


How do I apply?

Both of these forms must be fully completed and returned to Simone Paull in MC 4036, Please email spaull@uwaterloo.ca to arrange a time.

A faculty member must sign and fill out the account number on both the URA form and the Casual or Additional Pay Request form.

International Students need an SIN # to work in Canada

Please refer to the Student Success Office for this information:

https://uwaterloo.ca/international-students/social-insurance-number

For more information, please contact:

Simone Paull
Office: MC 4036
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext. 36826
Email: spaull@uwaterloo.ca