Engineering programs introduce to the fascinating world of science and technology, and at the same time provide access to a variety of interesting professions.Pascal FONTAINE, Professor in the field of distributed computer systems. Picture : ©MichelHouet
fter a thesis in Applied Sciences at the Montefiore Institute, Pascal Fontaine first joined Inria as a post-doctoral fellow, at Loria (Nancy, France). He then was lecturer at the University of Lorraine, also in Nancy. "I was fifteen years at Loria, in the Inria VeriDis team (Verification of Distributed Systems), joint with the Max-Planck-Institut für Informatik in Saarbrücken, Germany. The team focuses on the verification of distributed systems using formal methods. Formal methods are based on logic reasoning, and rigorously state the required properties of software and computer systems. My research interests are oriented towards automatic logic reasoning applied to the verification of distributed computer systems. More specifically, I am interested in methods and techniques to automatically study the validity of the many large logic formulas stemming from formal verification of systems. This is a difficult or even infeasible problem (so called, undecidable) in the sense of complexity: it is proved that there is no method to solve this problem in all cases, as soon as that the language of formulas is sufficiently expressive. But in practice, tools addressing this validity problem for logic formulas have seen impressive progress during the last decades. My collaborators and I are working on the design of such tools, used in particular by companies having formal methods in their process, for example for developing computer systems in transports, where algorithms are necessarily distributed and particularly critical: a bug in an aircraft's computer system may have serious consequences."
From training to the job market
"Leslie Lamport, Turing Award in 2013, rightly says that one shouldn't go to university to get a job training, but to get an education. Obviously, it is best if one can get both, and if studies also lead to interesting and fulfilling jobs. For this reason, the engineering program, particularly in computer science, is ideal: it introduces to the fascinating world of science and technology, and gives access to a variety of professions for every graduate to grow and achieve fulfillment, according to one's ambitions and aspirations."
Learning to learn
"Today, knowledge is widely available on the Internet. The University must therefore provide more than solid and general knowledge. During a career, things change a lot. Learning to learn is just as important as knowledge itself. The engineering program includes a lot of projects, and further than acquiring knowledge, students learn skills through these projects. Least but not least, the values that the university must seek to transmit to its students - the pursuit of knowledge and excellence, critical thinking, and curiosity - are strongly linked to research. I believe research enriches university teaching: teaching at the university level shares the same vision and values with research."