Even if able to program in a new language, a developer might still need
further training to become a productive member of a team. It takes time
and resources to graduate from “Hello
World” to programs fulfilling client
use cases. Such an investment is perhaps what motivates organizations to
outsource their software projects, a
practice that risks even failure due to
Though developing verifiable software is not typically high on an organization’s must-teach list, hosting an
application in a cloud adds further requirements due to the code’s remote
service-driven execution architecture.
As long as the cloud delivers the service at the promised quality of service,
clients are unlikely to be interested
in the details of its implementation.
For example, Jeremy Avigad and John
Harrison concluded in their article
“Formally Verified Mathematics” (Apr.
2014), “There is a steep learning curve
to the use of formal methods, and
verifying even straightforward and intuitively clear inferences can be time
consuming and difficult.”
Yet another aspect of the problem
is the absence of the skillset needed
to write efficient cloud-based code, as
not all code is readily convertible for
parallel and cloud-friendly environments. While ample processing power may be available in a rental cloud, it
may be difficult to find and train software developers to produce related
high-quality cloud-based code.
Formalisms (such as those discussed by Walfish and Blumberg) may
be exciting, at least theoretically, but
realizing efficient and verifiable cloud
code requires bridging the gap between
the software industry and the community of formal-methods practitioners.
Muaz A. Niazi, Islamabad, Pakistan
1. Avigad, J. and Harrison, J. Formally verified
mathematics. Commun. ACM 57, 4 (Apr. 2014), 66–75.
2. Moe, N. B., Šmite, D., Hanssen, G.K., and Barney, H. From
offshore outsourcing to insourcing and partnerships:
Four failed outsourcing attempts. Empirical Software
Engineering 19, 5 (Aug. 2014), 1225–1258.
Communications welcomes your opinion. To submit
a Letter to the Editor, please limit yourself to 500 words
or less, and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2015 ACM 0001-0782/15/04 $15.00
Bahrain Revokes Masaud
I have written several letters to the
editor (June 2012, Jan. 2012, and Nov.
2011) about a citizen of Bahrain, professor and chair Masaud Jahromi of
the Telecommunications Engineering Department at the Ahlia University in Bahrain, whose human rights
had been violated by his own government. Jahromi was arrested and imprisoned in April 2011 for nearly six
months for attending a rally on behalf of freedom. He was eventually
tried, convicted, and sentenced by a
court to five months in prison and a
fine of approximately $1,400. As he
had already served five months, the
court simultaneously suspended the
four months. Following this January
19, 2012 ruling, he was dismissed
from his position as professor and
chair at Ahlia University only to be
reinstated as professor February 20,
2012 and then as chair in March or
The Bahrain Ministry of Interior
has now revoked Jahromi’s citizenship
through a decree issued January 31,
2015. Jahromi was one of 72 Bahrainis,
including journalists, activists, and
doctors, to be stripped of their citizenship pursuant to a revision of the 1963
Bahrain Citizenship Act.
The Ministry of Interior announced its decree without court process or opportunity to respond, saying
it was revoking the citizenship of the
named individuals for “terrorist activities,” including “advocating regime
change through illegal means.” There
is no evidence Jahromi has ever participated in terrorism in any form. His
sentence in 2011 was for participating
in “unauthorized rallies” during protests. There are no additional allegations or evidence that he violated any
law since then.
The summary revocation of citizen-
ship appears to be a result of nonvio-
lent expressive activity that has already
been punished and not recurred. In-
ternational instruments, including
the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the International Conven-
tion on Civil and Political Rights, to
which Bahrain is a signatory, explicit-
ly protect both the right of individuals
to be free from arbitrary deprivation
of their nationality and their right to
engage in nonviolent expressive activ-
ity. Indeed, Article 15 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights specifi-
cally prohibits arbitrary deprivation of
Denial of citizenship without ex-
planation or apparent basis imposes
severe damage on an individual who
consequently becomes stateless.
Moreover, just including Jahromi’s
name on a list with the names of
obvious terrorists serving with ISIS
abroad damages Jahromi’s reputa-
tion as an academic.
Jahromi believes wide publicity of
his plight through Communications
and support from the ACM member-
ship was a positive factor in addressing
his previous legal problem. Those who
wish to help may write to the following
address to request immediate restora-
tion of Jahromi’s Bahraini citizenship.
His Majesty Shaikh Hamad bin Issa
King of Bahrain
Office of His Majesty the King
P.O. Box 555, Rifa’a Palace
Isa Town Central,
Kingdom of Bahrain
Jack Minker, College Park, MD
The Case of the Missing Skillset
In their article “Verifying Computations without Reexecuting Them”
(Feb. 2015), Michael Walfish and
Andrew J. Blumberg reviewed the
state of the art in program verification while questioning whether to
trust anything stored or computed
on third-party servers, as in cloud
computing, where companies and
consumers alike access remote resources, including data, processing
power, and memory, on a rental basis. Walfish and Blumberg proposed
the formalism of probabilistically
checkable proofs to allow, at least
theoretically, a verifier to verify remotely performed computations.
Not discussed, however, was an important aspect of verifiable software
for the cloud—the general lack of the
skillsets needed to write efficient and
verifiable parallel programs.
As anyone in the software industry
or related academic institutions can
attest, training software engineers
to use new tools and paradigms can
involve an arduous learning curve.