Open Faculty Positions in Computer Science at Ecole Polytechnique 2018 – Answering Some More Questions

As I’ve posted earlier, there are some Open Faculty positions in Computer Science at Ecole Polytechnique with a deadline coming up February 28, 2018. As a reminder, two professor positions, one assistant professor positon, and one “tenure-track assistant professor” position, are up for grabs.

Here’s the official information regarding these positions, as posted by the department head.

I do get contacted by prospective candidates, who ask for additional information about the positions, the school, and on how to best present their candidature, etc. It is very appreciated when candidates reach out like that, and it is my pleasure to answer, and provide as much information as I can.

However, as I am part of the recruitment process for some of these positions, I figure that it’s only fair to provide my answers as publicly as possible. Hence my previous post from early January, answering some questions that I had been asked – and, hence, also this post. Note that this post reflects my personal views that I, as an individual, have given to candidates asking – and are not an official policy.

Jean-Charles Griviaud (Cisco France) guest-lecturing on CybersecurityWe’re not looking for clones of existing faculty members. A candidate looking at our faculty listing should really be asking, and emphasising, “how I am I complimentary to …” rather than “how am I identical to…” Reasons for that include that if (for example) Ecole Polytechnique was to hire an identical clone of me, that clone would be perfectly capable of teaching the classes that I already teach … which would be redundant.

So while we’re not looking to create new research teams, and while successful candidates will integrate into existing research teams, the goal is that new faculty members will contribute to broadening our competencies (both research-wise, and teaching-wise).

Jean-Charles Griviaud (Cisco France) guest-lecturing on Cybersecurity

We’re hiring a faculty member in Cybersecurity, not in cryptology. This is an important distinction. We have an excellent cryptology team at Ecole Polytechnique already – but, cybersecurity is not cryptology. It is a topic which spans very wide, and several teams (mine included, but also our cryptology team, and others) have activities along that spectrum. We’re especially interest in candidates who “do stuff that we do not do” in this field: penetration testing, side-channel attacks, intrusion detection, architectures, … In fact, a candidate invited to come give an interview talk should expect to be asked two questions :

  • How is Cybersecurity different from cryptology?
  • In which way do you see yourself embodying that difference?

If a candidate has experience in developing Cybersecurity syllabi or programs, tell us. At Ecole Polytechnique, we’re ramping up our educational programs in that field, and I’d suspect that any prior experience would be a plus for a candidate (regardless of to which of the positions the candidate applies: AI also has strong applications in cybersecurity, for example for intrusion detection).

It’s not a handicap to have applied in the past, and been turned down. First, the profile of the positions open this year is very different from the profile of positions open in the past. Second, the profile of a candidate evolves over time. And finally, the recruitment committee changes, year-to-year — and is, even, composed of external members. Thus, any “institutional memory” is strongly diluted – and, is not relevant.

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