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Daniel J. Dubois

Associate Research Scientist

Daniel Dubois


Office Location

805 Columbus Avenue
660 Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Complex
Boston, MA 02120

Mailing Address

Northeastern University
ATTN: Daniel Dubois, 435 ISEC
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115


  • PhD in information engineering, Politecnico di Milano – Italy
  • MS, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • MS, Politecnico di Milano – Italy
  • BS, Politecnico di Milano – Italy


Daniel J. Dubois is a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences, working with David Choffnes on the ReCon project to understand the privacy implications of smart devices and the Internet of Things. Dubois’ research is rooted in software engineering, specifically on decentralized and self-adaptive software architectures. As his work has matured, he has become more interested in distributed systems, in particular from a privacy perspective, which he focuses on now. Dubois earned his PhD in information engineering from Politecnico di Milano, where he interned at IBM Haifa Research Lab, working on optimizing live Virtual Machines migrations. He then participated as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, as well as the Imperial College London. Dubois received both his bachelor’s degree and his master’s degree from Politecnico di Milano, as well as another master’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Cagliari, in the beautiful island of Sardinia, which is a place that everyone should visit at least once while in Italy, especially in the summer. I got my first Internet connection when I was 13 years old with a 14.4Kbps modem, and that is when my passion started.

What are the specifics of your educational background?

I obtained a PhD in Information Engineering at Politecnico di Milano, with a thesis titled “Self-organizing Methods and Models for Software Development” under the supervision of Professor Elisabetta Di Nitto. During my PhD, I worked at IBM Haifa Research Lab as an intern, focusing on optimizing live Virtual Machines migrations. After obtaining my PhD, I worked as a postdoc at the MIT Media Lab and Imperial College London. At the MIT Media Lab, I worked on a decentralized content sharing platform for mobile devices called ShAir. At Imperial College, I led the SPANDO project (Self-organizing Performance Prediction and Optimization for Large-scale Systems) working on optimizing the trade-off between cost and performance to deploy cloud applications. Now, I am working on the ReCon project at Northeastern University, under the supervision of David Choffnes, focusing on understanding privacy concerns of smart devices and the Internet of Things.

I studied for my undergraduate degree at Politecnico di Milano. By the end of high school, I was learning a lot about information technology by myself, and it was time to consolidate and expand my knowledge. Unfortunately, at that time, my hometown did not offer a full computer science program in its university, so I had to move to a larger city.It was one of the best choices I have ever made.

What are your research interests?

I am really interested in several fields of computer science, including privacy, Internet of Things, mobile computing, cloud computing, self-adaptive systems, software engineering, performance engineering, and gamification. My background has roots in the software engineering area, with particular reference to decentralized and self-adaptive software architectures. My early research had the goal of solving optimization problems in distributed systems by using algorithms inspired by the natural world. As my work matured, I applied my knowledge to different areas and developed additional interests, such as privacy and the Internet of Things, which are the ones I am mainly focusing right now. My research interests have been heavily influenced by the rapid changes we are experience in the computer science world, and by the fact that I have always been driven by curiosity and the desire to make something that is current and that has an impact to our everyday lives.

What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?

While Internet of Things technology is becoming pervasive in everyday objects (e.g., home appliances, baby-monitors, etc.), our awareness of the sensitive information they get access to and use remains almost non-existent. In my work, I want to give people a means to: (1) understand what private information their devices are sharing with third parties; and (2) block any unwanted information sharing.

What aspect of what you do is most interesting?

Almost all of us spend a lot of time every day interacting with smart devices that are connected to the Internet (e.g., mobiles phones, tablets, etc.). Unfortunately, most people are unaware that the companies that develop the apps and the devices they use are also collecting a lot of personal information. Previous work has already surprised people by showing that an average phone is sharing its GPS location with third parties several times every hour. What I am doing now is trying to understand what other information is being shared, by what apps/devices and what we can do to stop it.

What are your research or career goals, going forward?

I plan to become an innovator in a broad sense, not restricted to a single discipline or area. I might end up either in an academic or industry setting, but the mission should be the same: developing ideas, innovating, and doing something that addresses real world problems.