PhD position - Robustness and privacy in P2P

  • Where: Delft, Netherlands
  • Who: Delft University of Technology; Tribler team
  • When: Available from March 1st 2009 onwards.
  • Working hours: Maximum of 38 hours per week (1 FTE)
  • Contract duration: Four years
  • Salary scale: Starting at approx. €2000, increasing yearly to €2500 per month gross

Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science

The faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) is known world wide for its high academic quality and social relevance of its research programs. The faculty’s excellent facilities accentuate its international position in teaching and research. The faculty offers an interdisciplinary setting for its 500 employees, 350 Ph.D. students and 1700 undergraduates. Together they work on a broad range of technical innovations in the fields of sustainable energy, telecommunications, microelectronics, embedded systems, computer and software engineering, interactive multimedia and applied mathematics. EEMCS: Your Connection to the Future.

The Department of Software Technology comprises the EEMCS Faculty research groups working on core computer science topics. The department is responsible for a large part of the curriculum of the BSc and MSc programmes in Computer Science. The department’s research mission is to perform excellent research at an internationally recognized level in the design, construction and analysis of complex, concurrent and co-operative computer and information systems. Inspiration for the research topics is derived largely from technical ICT problems in industry and society. The department currently consists of the following groups: Parallel and Distributed Systems, Software Engineering, Embedded Software, Algorithms, and Web Information Systems.

Tribler is a young, multidisciplinary, international research team within the Parallel and Distributed Systems group, investigating and building novel peer-to-peer (P2P) applications and approaches. The team is centred around the open source client and other deployed technologies. Tribler started as a research project into P2P technology but it quickly grew to be the largest non-profit P2P initiative in the world. Our vision is to make all P2P technology completely free, secure and decentralized. Tribler is all about distributed systems, security, video streaming, trust relationships, content discovery and peer discovery.

The Tribler P2P research team is focussed on experimental P2P research. All research ideas are implemented, tested, deployed, measured and continuously improved using feedback from actual usage. Our Living Lab methodology of understanding deployed algorithms ensures we have a better understanding of the fundamental research challenges, at the cost of significant engineering challenges.

Job description

As a Ph.D. researcher you will participate in the QLectives project funded by the European Union. The goal of this project is to bring together top peer-to-peer engineers, social modelers, and physicists to design and deploy next generation self-organising socially intelligent information systems. The Tribler team is responsible for the algorithms for the emergence of cooperation, peer-to-peer platform design and deployment engineering parts of QLectives project.

Research topic - Robustness and privacy in P2P

Fully distributed based P2P systems have no single trusted server or administrative domain. Given this, how can a P2P system be robust against malicious attacks (peers that enter the system purely to disrupt it) and protect well behaved peers privacy. For example, in a filesharing system, or a distributed social networking system, how can peers protect themselves from others who wish to track their location and activities? What kinds of approaches can provide robustness against "Sybil" and other similar kinds of attacks.

What kinds of fully distributed approaches could be applied to improve robustness and privacy in P2P applications?
Possible approaches may include (though are not limited to):

  • Attack resistant P2P gossiping protocols
  • Distributed P2P social networking that protects peer privacy
  • Social / peer obfuscation methods
  • Distributed policing / monitoring methods
  • "Democratic de-cloaking" - mechanisms that allow for a member of a community to lose their privacy and / or be excluded if the majority of trusted peers decide to do so. Think "name and shame" or Athenian Greek "Ostracism"


The candidate has MSc degree in computer science / engineering subject (it would be advantageous to have some knowledge of distributed systems programming), genuine interest in P2P technology including new media distribution systems (such as BitTorrent), ability to program in Python (or willingness to learn Python quickly), a willingness to pursue interests beyond traditional engineering approaches by interacting with social scientists, physicists and other disciplines from QLectives partners and beyond, ability and willingness to interact and cooperate within the tribler team and ability to write scientific papers and publish them in appropriate conferences and journals. The candidate should be an enthusiastic team player with good communication skills.

Conditions of employment

This position has a temporary employment basis of four years. The estimated starting salary is €2000 growing in four years to a maximum of €2500 per month gross. TU Delft offers an attractive benefits package, including a flexible work week, free high-speed Internet access from home, and the option of assembling a customized compensation and benefits package (the 'IKA'). Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Information and application

To apply, please e-mail a detailed CV along with a letter of application, publication list and a written statement about your research interests to Dr. David Hales <dave [at]> as a single PDF of no more than four A4 pages. Dr. David Hales can also be contacted for more information about this position.
TU Delft is an equal opportunity employer.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.