Bren School of ICS faculty, students and research initiatives are some of the most well regarded successes on the UC Irvine campus. We are pleased to announce the following noteworthy achievements for 2005.
Awards, grants and other honors can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered for publication.
The computational theory of surprise was developed by Baldi in 1999 and first published in 2002. The NSF award will allow the multi-organizational team to put the theory to test. Early laboratory experiments have shown the Bayesian model of surprise outperforms previous theories in predicting human responses to suddenly unusual stimuli.
“We believe this approach has potential for profoundly changing our current notions of how ‘important’ or ‘surprising’ information is understood,” said Baldi, also the Director of the Institute for Genomics and Informatics (IGB) at UCI.
Baldi and Itti will present the outlines of their new mathematical understanding of surprise — along with their empirical studies on human subjects that support their theory — on Wednesday, December 7 at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) Conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.
The new NSF project combines forces of Baldi’s computational and theory labs with the modeling and psychophysics lab of USC’s Laurent Itti, and expands the research to include neurophysiological studies of brain mechanisms in Muñoz electrophysiology lab at Queen’s University (Canada). Both experiments and modeling will be combined in the project to develop a new understanding of how the brain codes for novelty and importance.
Lathrop and Hatfield have seen their joint research in the emerging field of synthetic biology, applying computational and biological methods to optimize the self-assembly of chemically synthesized genes, blossom into UC patents, a fully functioning Computational Biology Research Laboratory (CBRL), a thriving start-up company (CODA Genomics, Irvine, CA), a cascade of new research projects criss-crossing the campus, a flood of new external funding for the university, and a growing list of industry applications.
Novel synthetic genes assembled for UCI researchers by the CBRL include a red fluorescent protein that allows cell biologists to track metabolic events through cellular process in living cells; a gene instrumental in the development of a DNA vaccine; and a synthetic version of a newly discovered protein that causes cancer.
Welling receives grant to study learning taxonomies of the visual world
Assistant professor of computer science Max Welling along with Pietro Perona at Caltech have received a joint NSF grant to build a computer vision system that learns a taxonomy of visual object categories without supervision.
Learning visual object categories, and recognizing objects in images, is perhaps the most difficult and exciting problem in machine vision today. In light of the fast growing data deluge in science, engineering, industry and society, recognition systems must be able to operate without human supervision. This poses new challenges: How can one learn automatically models of a large number of object classes from unlabelled images? How can one represent these object classes such that they can be searched efficiently? How can one leverage the learnt models to learn new object classes from very few examples?
Welling and Perona plan to combat these challenges by inferring hierarchical representations of object classes from unlabelled image data. Object classes are represented as constellations of parts, where each part extracts shape and appearance information. Non-parametric Bayesian techniques may be employed to organize these object classes into tree-structured representations. The richness of this representation grows incrementally as more data is presented to the system. New similarity measures between object classes naturally derive from this representation facilitating recognition.
The project will focus specifically on developing tools to better understand a phenomenon known as the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), an important part of global large-scale atmospheric circulation. New models and algorithms will be investigated for tracking dynamic objects in images over time, using historical image data from visible and infra-red imagery, as well as satellite estimates of winds and liquid cloud water content.
Research on this project will be carried out by a collaborative effort between the Bren School of ICS and the Department of Earth System Sciences at UC Irvine, including faculty members Smyth and Stern in ICS and Magnusdottir (in Earth System Sciences), Ph.D. student Lucas Scharenbroich and postdoctoral fellow Alex Ihler in the Computer Science department, and postoctoral fellow Chai-chi Wang in the ESS department.
Patterson wins best paper award
"Fine-Grained Activity Recognition by Aggregating Abstract Object Usage" authored by assistant professor of informatics Don Patterson, won the best paper award at the 9th IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computers.
The symposium, held in Osaka Japan, October 18-21, brought together researchers, product vendors, fashion designers, textile manufacturers, users, and all other interested parties to share information and advances in wearable computing.
Professor earns Humboldt Research Award
Alfred Kobsa, professor of informatics, has been awarded the coveted Alexander von Humboldt Research Award, conferred by the government of Germany upon senior foreign scientists and scholars. He will be accepting the award next Spring in Germany.
The research award honours the academic achievements of the award winner’s lifetime. Furthermore, award winners are invited to carry out research projects of their own choice in Germany in cooperation with colleagues in Germany.
Kobsa will work with Professor Oliver Günther and Dr. Sarah Spiekermann from Humboldt University, Berlin, and jointly study privacy implications of the usage of radio frequency identification tags in the retail industry.
The award program was inaugurated in thankful response for the European Recovery Program, or Marshall Plan established by the United States government after World War II.
The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation was entrusted with implementation of the program, which initially recognized senior natural scientists from the U.S., but which has since been extended to internationally recognized scholars in the field of humanities, including lawyers, social scientists, and economists, throughout the world.
However, the emphasis of the program continues to be in the honoring of American natural scientists. The object is to pay tribute to academic accomplishments of award winners and to foster long-term cooperation between foreign and German researchers.
Taylor receives NSF cybertrust grant
Richard N. Taylor, professor of informatics, has been awarded $455,000 in funding from the National Science Foundation to explore software architecture-based approaches for engineering secure decentralized applications with Paul Dourish, associate professor of informatics.
The project will, over a period of three years, focus on developing effective design principles and software architectural styles for incorporating trust management in decentralized applications.
The project will also study existing decentralized reputation-based systems and investigate how they can better protect and respond against potential malicious attacks.
Paul Dourish, Simon Cole and Jennifer Terry have been awarded a $750,000 NSF award to investigate the ways new and emerging technologies such as blogging and text messaging are transforming peoples' privacy and identity in today's society.
By bringing together researchers from the Schools of Humanities, Social Ecology, and Information and Computer Sciences, this project takes a broad view of the ways in which technology and everyday life intersect, placing technology in a broader social and cultural context.
The interdisciplinary team of researchers will examine three core questions of social dynamics: how are practices of privacy and identity changing, what new patterns are evolving and how is the relationship between technical and social being developed?
The three-year research project is titled "Privacy, Identity and Technology."
Richard Lathrop, professor of computer science, in collaboration with professors from the Departments of Medicine, Biological Chemistry, and Pathology in the UCI School of Medicine, has received a grant for $1.8 million to apply machine learning to cancer. Researchers will study mutations in a central tumor suppressor protein (p53), which is involved in half of all human cancers.
The research is fostered by the UCI Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics (IGB), an umbrella of collaboration among over 80 laboratories spanning five Schools at UCI.
Funding is provided by the Innovations in Biomedical Computational Science and Technology (BISTI) program at NIH. Lathrop, professor of computer science, is the principle investigator and the co-PIs are Pierre Baldi (computer science) and Rainer Brachmann (School of Medicine).
Brachmann is involved in a large multi-laboratory collaboration to find pharmaceutical rescue agents for mutant p53 in human cancers; and Baldi, Director of the IGB, applies statistical and machine learning methods to drug discovery in cancer and other diseases.
Dechter awarded Radcliffe fellowship
Rina Dechter, professor of computer science, has been awarded a fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University to pursue her research in automated reasoning.
Dechter will spend the 2005-2006 academic year at the Radcliffe Institute to pursue her project on advanced search strategies for mixed probabilistic and deterministic networks.
Dechter's research has focused on automated reasoning, i.e., writing computer programs that assist in solving problems and answering questions by drawing conclusions from knowledge (e.g., data and facts). Automated reasoning research has evolved around two distinct ways of representing knowledge.
One way of representing knowledge uses hard constraints. An example of a hard constraint might be "a student cannot enroll in two courses if they meet at the same time."
The other recognizes that knowledge involves uncertainty and therefore uses probabilistic statements such as "if a student has a solid math background, he or she is likely (but not certain) to do well in computer classes."
Many real-life applications involve both types of information. The goal of Dechter's research project during her fellowship year is to work on a framework for automated reasoning that would accommodate both hard constraints and probabilistic information.
Reasoning about such "mixed" knowledge bases often requires lengthy and complex computation. Dechter will therefore focus on the development of efficient computational techniques that will enhance the usefulness of such automated reasoning systems.
Radcliffe Institute fellowships are designed to support scholars, scientists, artists, and writers of exceptional promise and demonstrated accomplishments who wish to pursue work in academic and professional fields and in the creative arts.
To learn more about Dechter's work, visit her website.
Paper wins award at Eurographics conference
"Hierarchyless Simplification, Stripification, and Compression of Triangulated Two-Manifolds" authored by the second year graduate student, Pablo Diaz-Gutierrez and computer science professors Gopi Meenakshisundaram and Renato Pajarola won the second best paper award at the annual Eurographics conference held in Dublin, Ireland August 26th - September 1st, 2005.
With more than 300 papers submitted, the acceptance rate for this conference was around 15 percent. The award is based on three criteria, the importance of results, clarity of the written paper, and the clarity of the final presentation.
In the same conference last year, held in Grenoble, France, a paper by computer science professors Gopi Meenakshisundaram and David Eppstein also won the second best paper award.
Bren School of ICS awards announced
Professors Renato Pajarola and Gloria Mark received the Bren School of ICS 2004-2005 Outstanding Student Mentor Award. This award recognizes faculty members who have shown uncommon dedication to graduate students.
Mohammad Ghodrat, Efe Yardimci, John Augustine, Christina Wuerth and Alex Baker received the Bren School of ICS Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Each awardee received $250 and a commemorative plaque.
Lin Wu, Bozhena Bidyuk, Christian Stork, David Wangerin, Maithili Narasimha, Joe Feise, and Raja Jurdak have been selected to receive the Bren School of ICS Summer Dissertation Fellowship Award.
The Collaborative Research Initiation Awards (CRIA), support the research and scholarship of ICS faculty, with an emphasis on recognizing and initiating innovative interdisciplinary and industrial collaborative research projects of exceptional promise.
The awards are made possible through the ICS Fund for Excellence, created in 2004 as part of the generous $20 million transformational gift from Orange County business leader and philanthropist Donald Bren, chairman of The Irvine Company.
Below is a description of the CRIA recipient projects.
Tony Givargis, assistant professor of computer science, received $14,500 for his work with NEC labs on Code Synthesis using a Serializing Compiler.
Gloria Mark, associate professor of informatics, was awarded $16,000 for her collaborative work on Remote Collaboration in Placeless Organizations with Bonnie Nardi, associate professor of informatics, and Julian Feldman, professor emeritus of computer science.
Bill Tomlinson, assistant professor of informatics, received $14,000 for his work on Heterogeneous Interactive Systems and Ecological Education (EcoRaft) in collaboration with Discovery Science Center and Lynn Carpenter, professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, and Robert Nideffer, associate professor of studio arts.
Team XAR (Extreme Anteater Racers), a group of ICS undergraduates was awarded $10,000 for their work to build an autonomous vehicle for the DAPRA Grand Challenge.
Max Welling, assistant professor of computer science, received a $450,000 NSF CAREER award. The award will fund research into a new class of probabilistic "undirected bipartite graphical models'' (UBG), that extract meaningful representations of input data.
The special structure of UBG models allows handling of large data-sets and very fast query processing which could make them useful in image restoration and information retrieval.
NSF's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award, recognizes a young researcher's dual commitment to scholarship and education.
Students honored for outstanding achievement
ICS will honor its outstanding achievers in an invitation only ceremony on June 10. Students will receive awards for Phi Beta Kappa, Campuswide Honors, Outstanding Contribution to Research and others. A complete list of award recipients is available.
André van der Hoek, assistant professor of informatics, has been awarded Professor of the Year from the Dean of the Division of Undergraduate Education.
The award will be presented at the annual Celebration of Teaching held at the University Club, May 25 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
ICS faculty and graduate students are invitied to attend and a reception will follow the event.
Please RSVP to Barbara Valencia at 824-1150 or email@example.com.
Isaac Scherson, professor of computer science, has been
elected Chair of the External Evaluation Committee for the Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Superiores de Ensenada (CICESE).
The CICESE is an oceanographic research institute in Mexico which works closely with American universities like UCSD.
Ph.D. student earns prestigious NSF Research Fellowship
Congratulations to first-year Ph.D. student Amanda Williams. Williams was one of 1,020 students awarded a 2005 fellowship from the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program.
The three-year award entitles Williams to $30,000 each year to continue her research in human-computer interaction and will pay her tuition costs.
Williams is one of five 2005 UCI recipients and the only computer science awardee.
For more information about GRFP, please visit the NSF site.
Details of Williams' research can be found at her homepage.
Faculty awarded two Nicholas Prizes
Informatics assistant professors Cristina Lopes and Bill Tomlinson were awarded two of the four first Nicholas Foundation Prizes for Cross-Disciplinary Research, announced Calit2 Irvine Division Director Albert Yee. The $300,00 prize will support four proposals in all.
Cristina Lopes and Steve C. Cramer, assistant professor in Neurology, were awarded $80,000 to continue researching an integrated computing/communications platform that measures and transmits physical therapy information from the homes of spinal-cord injury patients to UCI via the Internet for more detailed monitoring of patient recovery.
Bill Tomlinson, assistant professor of Informatics and Drama, along with F. Lynn Carpenter, professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, also were awarded $80,000 for their EcoRaft project. Their intent is that the project, a combination fixed/mobile interactive environmental exhibit, can be installed at science museums around the country to help teach environmental science to children.
For additional information on these awards please read the press release.
Professor appointed Editor-in-Chief of ACM-TODAES
Nikil Dutt, professor of computer science, has been appointed Editor in-Chief of ACM Transactions on Design Automation of Electronic Systems (ACM-TODAES).
ACM-TODAES is the premier journal in the area of design automation and provides a comprehensive coverage of innovative works concerning the specification, design, analysis, simulation, testing and evaluation of very large-scale integrated electronic systems, emphasizing a computer science/engineering orientation.
The publication can be viewed online.