Prof. Jeff Sanders, is a Senior Resident Researcher at AIMS South Africa. His work applies mathematical techniques of modelling, analysis and construction to information systems to standard programmes, less standard software (probabilistic and quantum programmes) and distributed systems. Current interest focuses on subtle properties of distributed systems, for example quantifying the flow of information in a multi-user (i.e. distributed) system, and adaptability of a system to interactions with its environment (including that which is sometimes called machine learning).
Much of the mathematical modelling done in the AIMS Research Centre concerns continuous systems motivated by finance, biology and astronomy. Jeff’s view is that information systems are equally dominant and complex and need to be modelled, analysed and engineered. Think of the web, or networks of mobile devices, or distributed databases used for e-commerce or e-government. But because they are discrete, information systems require a quite different style of modelling which uses branches of pure, rather than applied, mathematics (including mathematical logic and discrete mathematics).
Jeff also works on the theoretical foundations of those techniques. The huge benefit of this work is that it enables us to build better information systems: to engineer them correctly and more efficiently. Again, think of how to construct web services, to ensure the integrity of distributed data and how to ensure privacy and security of e-government systems (like e-voting, to give a current example). Our understanding pays dividends when new computing paradigms arise, as was the case recently with quantum computing, with web services and is now the case with adaptive systems.