Thursday Extras

Thursday Extra on 11/12: Mobile Sensing Applications

Octav Chipara will present "Developing and Deploying Mobile Sensing Applications."

Thursday, November 12
4:15 pm in Science 3821
Refreshments beforehand in the CS Commons

Octav Chipara is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Iowa and part of the Aging Mind and Brain Initiative.

Mobile sensing applications are an emerging class of mobile applications that take advantage of the increasing sensing, computational, storage, and networking capabilities of mobile devices. Chipara's research focuses on the systems, networking, and software engineering aspects of developing mobile health (mHealth) systems that continuously monitor and infer the health status of patients. His work combines the design of communication protocols, middleware, and programming tools with large-scale real-world deployments of working systems.

In this talk, Chipara will describe AudioSense – a novel mobile sensing application that allows audiologists to assess the performance of the hearing aids in the real-world. A key limitation of traditional laboratory and survey methods employed by audiologists is that they fail to predict when a hearing aid user will be dissatisfied with its performance in the real-world. In contrast with these techniques, AudioSense jointly characterizes both the user's auditory context and the performance of the hearing aid in that context. The second part of the talk will cover some of the tools his team has created to simplify the development of mobile sensing applications. The focus is one of coordinating when different hardware resources (e.g., WiFi, 3G) are turned on and off to save energy without hindering user experience. A lightweight annotation language and middleware service will be presented that can be used to build energy-efficient mobile sensing applications for Android.

Thursday Extra: Algorithms for Assembling the Tree of Life

October 29 at 4:15 pm in Science 3821
Refreshments served at 4:00 pm in the CS Commons

Join us for a talk by David Fernández-Baca from the Department of Computer Science at Iowa State University. His talk is titled "Algorithms for Assembling the Tree of Life."

The Tree of Life is a reconstruction of the evolutionary history of all living species. Constructing this tree is one of the fundamental problems in science. At present, however, we are far from solving this problem. Instead, we must be content with building phylogenetic trees (that is, evolutionary trees) for relatively small families of species. Even trees of such limited scope have important uses. They help biologists to decipher the function of genes by comparing these genes to similar ones in closely related species. Ecologists use phylogenetic trees to estimate degrees of biodiversity and analyze rates of species extinction. In medicine, phylogenetic trees model disease progression. Phylogenetic trees are also used outside of biology, to understand the development of human languages and political systems.

This talk will discuss the work Fernández-Baca's group conducts in computational phylogenetics -- the field that studies the construction of phylogenetic trees. The aim of their research is to develop algorithms, mathematics, and software for phylogenetics. Much of the work addresses the computational problems that stem from the scarcity of data for building trees and the conflict among the data that is available. In addition to tackling algorithmic challenges, they also collaborate with biologists to study specific questions in biology. A recent example is applying phylogenetics to the study of legumes. This is a family of plants that are notable for their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen -- a process that is essential for agriculture -- and that includes major food crops.

At the end of the talk, Fernández-Baca will give an overview of graduate study opportunities offered by the Computer Science Department at Iowa State University. The department has 31 faculty members covering a wide range of areas, including artificial intelligence, formal methods & verification, wireless networks and systems, robotics, software safety, software engineering, and theoretical computer science. The department participates in interdepartmental graduate programs in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Human-Computer Interaction, and Information Assurance. Almost all Ph.D. students are supported by research or teaching assistantships.

Thursday Extra: IBM Watson and Innovation in NYC

October 8
4:15 pm in Science 3821
Refreshments served at 4:00 pm in the CS Commons.

Blake Creasey '16 will present: "IBM Watson & Innovation in New York City."

This summer I went to New York City for seven weeks to learn about IBM Watson and engineering entrepreneurship at the Cooper Union. Our IBM mentor taught us about the brand of Watson, how pieces of the technology work, and current implementations of the technology. We met with our client, the New York Public Library, to understand a problem in their book recommendation system, and we set out trying to use the Watson Experience Manager to build a solution. We interviewed potential users, reviewed existing survey data, extensively discussed technological feasibility, met with current IBM Watson business partners, and finally built an iPhone book recommendation application using IBM Watson's natural language processing capabilities. My main focus in this talk will be on IBM Watson and our prototype iPhone application, Shelf. I will also briefly discuss the companies that I toured-Google, Bloomberg, Microsoft, Gamechanger, IBM Watson's Experience Center-and the meetups that I attended. Thanks to the Wilson Program, I hope to share what I learned about innovation, and I hope to discuss my general impressions on what is happening with innovation-the cool, the incredible, the scary, and the future.

Thursday Extra October 1st

Peter-Michael Osera and Charlie Curtsinger will discuss graduate programs in computer science.

October 1st
4:15 p.m.
Noyce 3821

Snacks will be available in the CS Commons at 4:00 p.m.

Double Feature CS Talks on September 23 & 24

On Wednesday, September 23, Dr. Ursula Wolz gives a talk on two of her research projects: "Does Learning Computer Science Require a Teacher? Reflections on Automated Tutors and Learning Communities."

On Thursday, September 24, our own Samuel Rebelsky gives a short talk: "Scripting GIMP with Racket."

Both talks are in Science-3821 at 4:15 PM, preceded by refreshment in the CS Commons at 4:00.

Ursula Wolz will be teaching at Grinnell as a Noyce Visiting Professor in Spring 2016. Dr. Wolz is currently involved in two projects, one to create a very robust mechanical tutor using a sophisticated rule base, the other to create face-to-face communities of coders that remove, or at least reduce, the technology divide. She will provide a quick overview of both projects, and then invite stimulating discussion of the major technological and ethical issues involved.

Professor Rebelsky's talk is practice for an upcoming presentation at RacketCon in St. Louis. The GNU Image Manipulation Program, or GIMP, is an open-source alternative to Photoshop. In the early days of GIMP, the designers added a scripting language, Script-Fu, based on Scheme. Over the years, Script-Fu has been superseded by Python-Fu, although Script-Fu remains an option, albeit with a primitive IDE. Over the past few years, my students and I have built a library that allows programmers to script GIMP using Racket and the DrRacket IDE. In addition to providing the “glue” between GIMP and Racket, we also added a library of routines more amenable to novice programmers. In this talk, we will discuss the design of both the “glue” and the broader library. We will also discuss a related introductory course in CS that uses multiple models of image making as the motivating problem domain.

Thursday Extra: GNU/Linux System Administration Projects

On Thursday, September 10, Reilly Noonan Grant 2018, Alex French 2017, Bazil Mupisiri 2018, and Logan Goldberg 2018 will present their summer 2015 work on projects for the maintenance and improvement of MathLAN:

We shall describe the various projects completed to improve the computer science department’s MathLAN systems over the summer and give an overview of the field of system administration. MathLAN’s operating system is GNU/Linux, a free software, which gives the user more control over the computer. This made the course very open-ended. As such, the projects completed are varied and relate to many different aspects of system administration. The more noticeable effects of these projects are an improvement in the MathLAN login screen, and a revision of the CS website, yet to be implemented.

At 4:00 p.m., refreshments will be served in the Computer Science Commons. The talk, “GNU/Linux System Administration Projects,” will begin at 4:15 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Thursday Extra: "Beyond the PDP-11"

On Thursday, April 30, Brooks Davis (Senior Software Engineer, SRI International) will describe a proposed processor architecture to support memory-safe programming:

The C programming language (combined with C++) is used to implement all important modern operating systems and the runtimes of most higher level programming languages. Despite the ease of implementing serious security bugs in C, billions of lines of software is written in it and our daily lives depend on much of that software. It is surprising that all popular CPU architectures provide memory safety mechanisms substantially identical to those on the PDP-11 on which C was written in 1972! Our research aims to change that.

In this talk I provide an introduction to the conventional memory model of C and cover some of the problems this model causes. I will then discuss our solution, the CHERI CPU and our modified C compiler and how we took it from an early prototype to something that can bring memory safety to virtually all C code without code changes.

At 4:15 p.m., refreshments will be served in the Computer Science Commons. The talk, “Beyond the PDP-11: Architectural support for a memory-safe C abstract machine,” will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Thursday Extra: "Enhancing Myro Java using Android"

On Thursday, April 17, Nora Bresette Buccino will discuss the development of an application programming interface for small robots in Java, with extensions to the Android environment:

The use of personal robots in computing is becoming more ubiquitous as robots are a good way to attract students and introduce them to the subject of computer science. Therefore, it is important to make use of all the features of the robots to give users a sense of the capabilities provided by robotics. The API (Application Programming Interface) defined by the Institute for Personal Robots in Education, called Myro, originally created in Python, has now been adapted to many other popular programming languages including Java. The Myro Java API created for the Scribbler robots by Professor Douglas Harms of DePauw University included most of the features of Myro Python. Our goals in this project were to add features to the Myro Java API, to enhance the user's capabilities, and to attempt to incorporate Android development into Myro Java.

Smart phones and tablets have become an integral part of the way we communicate and learn. Not only can these devices be used to communicate with other people, but they can also communicate with other devices through Bluetooth and infrared sensors. Thus these types of devices can interact with devices such as robots and applications can be created to control these robots. Therefore, we decided to integrate Myro and Android to provide the opportunity to not only learn about robotics but to also learn about Android programming and mobile application development.

At 4:15 p.m., refreshments will be served in the Computer Science Commons. The talk, “Enhancing Myro Java using Android,” will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Thursday Extra: "Beyond Binary Decision Diagrams"

On Thursday, November 13, Professor Gianfranco Ciardo, Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science at Iowa State University, will speak on extensions of binary decision diagrams:

Binary decision diagrams (BDDs) have had enormous success since Bryant showed how to use them for the efficient verification of boolean hardware designs and Clarke and McMillan employed for symbolic model checking. In this talk, we take BDDs as a starting point and explore various extension of decision diagrams, we apply them to problems beyond temporal logic verification, and we discuss several challenging research problems related to decision diagrams.

Before the talk, Professor Ciardo will meet informally with students considering the possibility of graduate study at Iowa State. This meeting will be in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817), beginning at 3:45 p.m.

At 4:15 p.m., refreshments will be served in the Computer Science Commons. Professor Ciardo's talk, “Beyond BDDs: advanced decision diagrams and their applications,” will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

Thursday Extra: "Toss a coin, throw a ball, and solve a problem"

On Thursday, October 30, Professor Sriram Pemmarju of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Iowa will discuss the uses of randomness in algorithm design:

Randomness has proven itself to be an amazingly useful resource in the design of simple and efficient algorithms. Randomized algorithms are now widespread in all areas of computer science; examples can be found in cryptography, data compression, distributed systems, machine learning, network protocols, online and streaming algorithms, etc. This talk will present a few “gems” of randomization—algorithms that highlight the elegance and power of randomized techniques, while identifying underlying principles that guide the design of randomized algorithms. Time permitting, the talk will also consider the theoretical question of whether randomness provably adds to the power of efficient algorithms.

Refreshments will be served at 4:15 p.m. in the Computer Science Commons (Noyce 3817). Professor Pemmarju's talk, “Toss a coin, throw a ball,and solve a problem,” will begin at 4:30 p.m. in Noyce 3821. Everyone is welcome to attend!

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