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Deng, Y., Lu, D., Chung, C., Huang, D., Zeng, Z..  2018.  Personalized Learning in a Virtual Hands-on Lab Platform for Computer Science Education. 2018 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). :1—8.

This Innovate Practice full paper presents a cloud-based personalized learning lab platform. Personalized learning is gaining popularity in online computer science education due to its characteristics of pacing the learning progress and adapting the instructional approach to each individual learner from a diverse background. Among various instructional methods in computer science education, hands-on labs have unique requirements of understanding learner's behavior and assessing learner's performance for personalization. However, it is rarely addressed in existing research. In this paper, we propose a personalized learning platform called ThoTh Lab specifically designed for computer science hands-on labs in a cloud environment. ThoTh Lab can identify the learning style from student activities and adapt learning material accordingly. With the awareness of student learning styles, instructors are able to use techniques more suitable for the specific student, and hence, improve the speed and quality of the learning process. With that in mind, ThoTh Lab also provides student performance prediction, which allows the instructors to change the learning progress and take other measurements to help the students timely. For example, instructors may provide more detailed instructions to help slow starters, while assigning more challenging labs to those quick learners in the same class. To evaluate ThoTh Lab, we conducted an experiment and collected data from an upper-division cybersecurity class for undergraduate students at Arizona State University in the US. The results show that ThoTh Lab can identify learning style with reasonable accuracy. By leveraging the personalized lab platform for a senior level cybersecurity course, our lab-use study also shows that the presented solution improves students engagement with better understanding of lab assignments, spending more effort on hands-on projects, and thus greatly enhancing learning outcomes.

Duan, J., Zeng, Z., Oprea, A., Vasudevan, S..  2018.  Automated Generation and Selection of Interpretable Features for Enterprise Security. 2018 IEEE International Conference on Big Data (Big Data). :1258-1265.

We present an effective machine learning method for malicious activity detection in enterprise security logs. Our method involves feature engineering, or generating new features by applying operators on features of the raw data. We generate DNF formulas from raw features, extract Boolean functions from them, and leverage Fourier analysis to generate new parity features and rank them based on their highest Fourier coefficients. We demonstrate on real enterprise data sets that the engineered features enhance the performance of a wide range of classifiers and clustering algorithms. As compared to classification of raw data features, the engineered features achieve up to 50.6% improvement in malicious recall, while sacrificing no more than 0.47% in accuracy. We also observe better isolation of malicious clusters, when performing clustering on engineered features. In general, a small number of engineered features achieve higher performance than raw data features according to our metrics of interest. Our feature engineering method also retains interpretability, an important consideration in cyber security applications.

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Zeng, Z., Deng, Y., Hsiao, I., Huang, D., Chung, C..  2018.  Improving student learning performance in a virtual hands-on lab system in cybersecurity education. 2018 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE). :1—5.

This Research Work in Progress paper presents a study on improving student learning performance in a virtual hands-on lab system in cybersecurity education. As the demand for cybersecurity-trained professionals rapidly increasing, virtual hands-on lab systems have been introduced into cybersecurity education as a tool to enhance students' learning. To improve learning in a virtual hands-on lab system, instructors need to understand: what learning activities are associated with students' learning performance in this system? What relationship exists between different learning activities? What instructors can do to improve learning outcomes in this system? However, few of these questions has been studied for using virtual hands-on lab in cybersecurity education. In this research, we present our recent findings by identifying that two learning activities are positively associated with students' learning performance. Notably, the learning activity of reading lab materials (p \textbackslashtextless; 0:01) plays a more significant role in hands-on learning than the learning activity of working on lab tasks (p \textbackslashtextless; 0:05) in cybersecurity education.In addition, a student, who spends longer time on reading lab materials, may work longer time on lab tasks (p \textbackslashtextless; 0:01).

Zhou, Y., Zeng, Z..  2019.  Info-Retrieval with Relevance Feedback using Hybrid Learning Scheme for RS Image. 2019 International Conference on Cyber-Enabled Distributed Computing and Knowledge Discovery (CyberC). :135—138.

Relevance feedback can be considered as a learning problem. It has been extensively used to improve the performance of retrieval multimedia information. In this paper, after the relevance feedback upon content-based image retrieval (CBIR) discussed, a hybrid learning scheme on multi-target retrieval (MTR) with relevance feedback was proposed. Suppose the symbolic image database (SID) of object-level with combined image metadata and feature model was constructed. During the interactive query for remote sensing image, we calculate the similarity metric so as to get the relevant image sets from the image library. For the purpose of further improvement of the precision of image retrieval, a hybrid learning scheme parameter also need to be chosen. As a result, the idea of our hybrid learning scheme contains an exception maximization algorithm (EMA) used for retrieving the most relevant images from SID and an algorithm called supported vector machine (SVM) with relevance feedback used for learning the feedback information substantially. Experimental results show that our hybrid learning scheme with relevance feedback on MTR can improve the performance and accuracy compared the basic algorithms.