Category: News

Search for Department Chair

Michigan Technological University invites applications and nominations for the position of Chair of the Department of Computer Science to begin in the 2013-2014 academic year. We seek an individual with the vision and leadership skills to elevate the department’s prominence in computer science research, further our strong tradition of educational excellence, and grow our graduate programs. Find out more at this link.

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CS Department Seminar, Aly Farahat, PhD Defense

July 16, 2pm

Title: Automated Design of Self-Stabilization

Abstract

Nowadays, we witness an increasing impact of software system failures due to the
growing abundance and steady proliferation of software into our daily activities.
Self-stabilization is a property of a distributed system such that, regardless of the
legitimacy of its current behavior, the system behavior shall eventually become legitimate and shall remain so thereafter. Despite its elegance, self-stabilization is very difficult to
design and verify manually. We pursue two approaches towards the automated design of
self-stabilization. The first approach explores the global state space of distributed
protocols, through a set of heuristics, to automatically add self-stabilization to these
protocols. Towards this end, we develop software tools that implement our heuristics and
obtain existing and new self-stabilizing protocols on various network topologies. The
second approach investigates the global behavior of a distributed protocol by reasoning
about the local state space of just one of its components/processes. In particular, we
provide necessary and sufficient conditions — verifiable in the local state space of every
process — for global deadlock and livelock-freedom of protocols on ring topologies. Local
reasoning potentially circumvents state explosion and partial information in distributed
systems, thereby enabling our assertions about global deadlocks and livelocks to hold for
rings of arbitrary size.

Watch the defense:

Mediasite
Echo 360

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CS Department Seminar, Christopher Brown, PhD Candidate

March 30, 2012, 3:00 PM, Room 214 – Rekhi Hall

Title: Generating Automated Usability Tests for User Centered Design

The agile approach to software development gives top priority to satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software. A key component of the agile approach is test driven development (TDD), which involves the continuous maintenance of an automated regression test suite. One area that appears resistant to TDD is usability testing, due to its inherently subjective nature. Without automated usability testing, many HCI intensive applications cannot be developed in a fully agile manner.
This research project will provide automated usability tests that can supplement standard usability testing. It uses generative programming techniques to create test code based on common usability heuristics. Generated code can adapt to varying styles of interface, and can ground subjective decisions in objective criteria. [Video]

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CS, Center for Computer Systems Research and ECE Seminar – Brian VanVoorst, Speaker

Title: An Introduction to Point Cloud Understanding
Brian VanVoorst, MTU Alumni & Technical Director of BBN Technologies

Thursday, March 22,2012 – 135 Fisher Hall – 2:00 PM

Abstract: A point cloud is a collection of 3D points from a 3D sensor such as a LIDAR, stereo camera, or a Microsoft Kinect system. These 3D sensors are used in applications of robotics, mapping (such as the Google Street View platforms), and entertainment. At BBN there are multiple projects under way with a common theme of “point cloud understanding.” Point cloud understanding is an area of computer vision research in which algorithms are developed to extract knowledge from point clouds. In this talk an overview of 3D sensors and their point clouds, discuss challenges computer scientists face in processing point clouds, explain some of the key algorithms and data structures, highlight the differences between point cloud understanding and image understanding, and explore opportunities for sensor fusion. I will draw heavily upon the real-world challenges we face in our ongoing research projects. This talk will be accessible to computer scientists and engineers at all levels.

Biography: Brian VanVoorst joined BBN Technologies in 2008 as a Technical Director to help form the BBN Technologies office in Minnesota. He has more than 19 years of experience working on and leading research and development programs. His most recent work is in the area of the automated understanding of LIDAR point clouds. His previous work has been in many areas, including real-time and fault-tolerant systems, mobile ad-hoc networking, parallel processing, and parallel system benchmarking. He also has worked extensively with robotics and was part of a team that was a finalist for the DARPA Urban Challenge. Before coming to BBN, VanVoorst was a researcher at Honeywell Labs for 14 years and spent two years at the NASA Ames Research Center. VanVoorst earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science from Michigan Technological University. From 1999–2001 he held a lectureship position at Michigan Tech and taught in the Computer Science Department while continuing to work for Honeywell. He holds one patent with four applications pending and has published more than 20 papers in conference proceedings and journals.

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5th Annual BonzAI Brawl Programming Contest

Put your AI to the test and conquer the nine realms! On March 31, 2012 the 5th Annual BonzAI Brawl programming competition will take place in the CS department at Michigan Technological University. The programming will be an all day event, where teams of 1 to 3 contestants will implement an AI player for a game. The contestants will be given the details of the API the day of the competition and must design a winning strategy within the 8 hours allotted. After coding ends, the AIs are pitted against each other, in a tournament (known as the BRAWL). Spectators are welcome to attend and cheer for their favorite AI at the BRAWL. For more information about BonzAI Brawl or to register your team, visit http://wics.students.mtu.edu/bonzai. All teams must register by March 23, 2011.

Sponsored in part by a donation from LaSalleTech, Consistacom, Jackson, and the CS Department.

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CS Department Seminar – Dr. Timothy Havens, Speaker

Department of Computer Science Seminar
February 27, 2012 – 4:04 PM – Room G005 – Rekhi Hall
Title: “Fuzzy Kernel Clustering of Large Scale Biomedical and Bioinformatics Data”

Dr. Timothy Havens

Abstract:
Since the early 1990’s, the ubiquity of personal computing technology has produced an abundance of staggeringly large data sets—it is estimated that Facebook alone logs over 25 terabytes of data per day and large bioinformatics data sets that integrate microarrays, sequences, and ontology annotations continue to grow. To compound this fact, these data sets are populated from disparate, often unknown, sources and are in a wide-range of formats. There is a great need for systems by which one can elucidate the similarity among and between groups in these data sets and produce easy-to-understand visualizations of the results. In this talk, I will discuss a method for efficiently and accurately approximating the solution of the kernel c-means clustering algorithm, specifically focusing on the fuzzy variant. Kernel clustering has been shown to be effective for data sets where the groups are not linearly separable in the input space or are high-dimensional. However, kernel fuzzy c-means (kFCM) presents computation and storage requirement challenges: clustering 500,000 objects requires 1 terabyte of main memory. I will show that on medium scale data (~50,000 objects) the approximate kFCM (akFCM) algorithm gives up to three orders of magnitude speed-up and a constant factor reduction in memory footprint with little-to-no degradation in performance, as compared to literal kFCM. I also demonstrate that akFCM performs well on large-scale data (>500,000 objects), including magnetic resonance imaging volumes. Last, I will apply the clustering method to bioinformatics data composed of genes described by Gene Ontology annotations to show how akFCM can be used for comparative genomics.

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CS Creativity Contest

The Computer Science Department is hosting a Creativity Contest, looking for artwork, designs, and anything creative to adorn the walls of Rekhi Hall. The contest is open to Software Engineering, Computer Science, Computer Systems Science, and Computer Engineering students of all levels, as well as department faculty and staff. Any questions can be sent to csdept@mtu.edu or posted on the Michigan Tech CSCC Facebook wall (http://www.facebook.com/MTUCSCC).

Submissions will be accepted until November 27th at 11:59pm. When submitting a piece, the following will need to be provided:

* Name of Student, Faculty or Staff Member
* Major of Student, or Faculty/Staff title
* Name of Piece/Entry
* Category for Entry to be placed in: Artwork, Digital Artwork, Computer Art, Photography, and Other Pieces.
* A short description of the piece.
* Finally a Thumbnail, snapshot, or photograph of the piece. The actual piece does not have to be scanned in to be submitted. For example: Photographs of paintings are acceptable for submission.

Winning entries will be placed throughout Rekhi Hall to help bring a more creative and inspirational mood to the Computer Science building!

All entries, including those sent to csdept@mtu.edu, will be placed in albums on the Facebook page. Judging for entries will be both based on the amount of “Likes” the entry receives from Michigan Tech Students and the collaborative opinions of the CS Department Faculty and Staff.  All entries will receive a free MTU/CS Dept T-shirt.

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WiCs Receives $500 NCWIT/Return Path Inc. Award

Women in Computing Science (WiCS), a student organization supported by the Department of Computer Science (CS) recently received a $500 award from the National Center for Women in Information Technology and Return Path, Inc. through the NCWIT Academic Alliance Student Seed Fund program. The purpose of these awards are to help student-run programs and initiatives that promote increased participation of women in computing and IT programs. WiCS is developing outreach programs for high school students with the purpose of raising their interest in computing especially among pre-college age girls.

The WiCS program is being designed to provide high school students with specific examples of the career opportunities available to them with a degree in CS. Many high school students, especially those who may be interested in a career in computing, have minimal or incorrect knowledge about the career opportunities in CS-related fields. WiCS is working closely with Michigan Tech Computer Science alumni to gather information about the broad range of fields that use computer science skills, including technology, health care, design and manufacturing, financial, and entertainment.

WiCS expects to present their program to both local and downstate high schools. Downstate visits to high schools will primarily occur during the break between semesters.

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CS Professors Pastel and Wallace Involved in NSF-sponsored Citizen Science Project

Dr. Robert Pastel and Dr. Charles Wallace
Dr. Robert Pastel and Dr. Charles Wallace

Dr. Robert Pastel and Dr. Charles Wallace of the Computer Science Department are co-principal investigators on a $249,840 award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) titled “Environmental Cyber Citizens: Engaging Citizen Scientists in Global Environmental Change through Crowdsensing and Visualization”.

Citizen science aims to bring citizen scientists, ordinary individuals and groups, directly into the scientific inquiry process through legitimate and meaningful activities that are useful to the scientific community. The goal of the NSF-sponsored project is to use current computing technology to develop tools for environmental citizen scientists. A multi-disciplinary team of faculty and undergraduate students will collaborate with citizen scientist end users to develop and deploy data collection and visualization tools to monitor the critical ecosystems of Lightfoot Bay in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. These users will effectively engage in crowdsensing: supplying useful data over space and time through “strength in numbers” that would be difficult for individual scientists to collect.

One goal is to develop and use smartphone applications that make it easy to acquire environmental information: e.g., digital images, in-situ measurements of water quality parameters, and personal narratives. In addition, applications will be developed for transferring the acquired data synchronously or asynchronously to an interactive visualization website. On the visualization website, users will combine quantitative data in meaningful ways while framing or annotating it with qualitative data. The smartphone applications and visualization tools will be developed in undergraduate design courses within the Computer Science Department.

The project is highly interdisciplinary, involving Dr. Alex Mayer (principal investigator) of Civil & Environmental Engineering, as well as faculty in Chemical Engineering and in Forest Resources & Environmental Science. In addition, it will build upon existing educational programs at Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, several local high schools, and the Keweenaw Land Trust. Research scientists at IBM researching crowdsensing will also collaborate.

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