Noteworthy achievements 2010-2011

Bren School 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.

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Awards, grants and other honors can be sent to to be considered for publication.


ISG members receive multiple NSF grants

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


photo: Nalini Venkatasubramanian


photo: Dmitri V. Kalashnikov


Several members of the Information Systems Group (ISG) within the department of computer science received National Science Foundation grants to support a variety of research projects. Computer science professor Sharad Mehrotra received $500,000 from the NSF’s Division of Computer and Network Systems to explore query processing in mixed security environments wherein data migrates across different components, each of which may offer different levels of security guarantees and may be susceptible to different attacks. Mehrotra, along with assistant adjunct professor Dmitri V. Kalashnikov, also received $500,000 from the NSF’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems, to build a query and goal-driven entity resolution framework. Professor Nalini Venkatasubramanian was awarded $205,000 to lead a research project on “GeoSocial Alerting Systems.”

ISG consists of computer science faculty members, affiliated faculty, students, visitors and project staff. It aims to address today’s rapidly evolving information infrastructure by conducting research on all aspects of modern data and information systems.


Smyth Serves as KDD-2011 Program Chair

photo: Padhraic Smyth


Computer science professor Padhraic Smyth is the program chair for the 17th ACM SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, currently underway in San Diego, Calif. Considered the premier annual international research conference on data mining, the event this year drew a record-setting 1,000+ attendees.

Approximately 725 research papers were submitted (another record), of which 125 were accepted for oral or poster presentation at the meeting. The review process involved more than 350 reviewers and 35 senior program committee members. Keynote presenters include Peter Norvig (Google), Stephen Boyd (Stanford University), David Haussler (UC Santa Cruz) and Judea Pearl (UCLA).

Smyth's research includes machine learning, pattern recognition, applied statistics, data mining, information theory and artificial intelligence. His work focuses on how to automatically extract information from large and complex data sets. His research group works on the basic theory of inference from data, as well as on a variety of applications of data analytic algorithms to problems in medicine, biology, climate modeling, astronomy, planetary science, and analysis of Web and text data.


Paper by Tsudik and El Defrawy Selected as IEEE Spotlight

photo: Gene Tsudik


photo: Gene Tsudik

El Defrawy

Computer science professor Gene Tsudik and Network Systems alumnus Karim El Defrawy, Ph.D. '10 co-authored "ALARM: Anonymous Location-Aided Routing in Suspicious MANETs," which has been selected as the Spotlight Paper for the September 2011 issue of IEEE Transactions of Mobile Computing. For a limited time it will be available to the public for free on the journal home page.

The paper addresses mobile ad hoc networking (MANET) scenarios in hostile or suspicious settings by designing and analyzing a privacy-preserving and secure link-state based routing protocol (ALARM). The work, according to Tsudik and El Defrawy, represents the first comprehensive study of security, privacy and performance tradeoffs in link-state MANET routing.


Students recognized by Yahoo! and IEEE, ACM

photo: Ronen Vaisenberg


photo: Reza Rahimi


Computer science graduate student Ronen Vaisenberg received the 2011-12 Yahoo! Best Dissertation Fellowship Award for his work on "Scalability in Event Detection Systems."

Reza Rahimi, also a computer science graduate student, received the Best Student Poster Award for “Cloud Based Framework for Rich Content Mobile Applications” at CCGrid2011, the IEEE/ACM International Symposium on Cluster, Cloud, and Grid Computing.


Top-Ranked Journal Edited by Kobsa Celebrates 20th Anniversary

photo: Alfred Kobsaw


User Modeling and User-Adapted Interaction: The Journal of Personalization Research, founded by Informatics professor Alfred Kobsa and published by Springer Verlag, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. UMUAI is ranked No. 20 among 445 computer science journals based on its ISI/Thompson impact factor, and No. 3 by Microsoft Academic Search among 26 human-computer interaction journals.


Tsudik Co-Chairs Two International Conferences

photo: Gene Tsudik


Computer science professor Gene Tsudik served as program co-chair of two conferences this summer. The 9th International Conference on Applied Cryptography and Network Security (ACNS '11), an annual research conference focusing on cutting-edge results in applied cryptography and network and computer security, took place June 7-10 in Nerja (Malaga), Spain. The 4th ACM Conference on Wireless Network Security (WiSec'11), which aims to explore attacks on wireless networks and the techniques to thwart them, was held June 14-16 in Hamburg, Germany.

Tsudik’s research interests include computer/network security and applied cryptography. He serves as director of UCI’s Secure Computing and Networking Center and as vice chair of the Bren School’s computer science department.



UCI team receives DARPA grant

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


photo: Nalini Venkatasubramanian


photo: Dmitri V. Kalashnikov


Computer science professors Sharad Mehrotra and Nalini Venkatasubramanian, and assistant adjunct professor Dmitri V. Kalashnikov — in collaboration with the International Computer Science Institute, UC Berkeley and SRI International— have been awarded a $1.2 million grant by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to explore speech-based situational awareness for event response.


Givargis Wins ASEE’s Terman Award

photo: Tony Givargis


Tony Givargis, Computer Science Associate Professor, was selected to receive the 2011 Frederick Emmons Terman Award of the American Society for Engineering Education’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Division.

Sponsored by Hewlett-Packard, the award is bestowed annually upon an outstanding young electrical engineering educator in recognition of his/her contributions to the profession, including the publication of an electrical engineering textbook judged to be outstanding by peers.

The award, which includes an honorarium, a gold-plated medal and bronze replica, and a presentation scroll, will be presented to Givargis at the Frontiers in Education Conference in October. Its namesake, Silicon Valley pioneer F.E. Terman, was an electrical engineering professor and Stanford University administrator known for mentoring students who went on to establish successful businesses, including William Hewlett and David Packard.

At UC Irvine, Givargis conducts research in the area of software for embedded systems, investigating issues related to Realtime Operating System (RTOS) synthesis, serializing compilers, and code transformations techniques for efficient software to hardware migration.


Stern, Johnson Named IMS Fellows

photo: Hal Stern


photo: Wesley Johnson


Dean Hal Stern and Professor Wesley Johnson, both with the Bren School’s Department of Statistics, have been elected to fellowship in the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, in honor of their outstanding research and professional contributions.

Stern’s research interests include statistical inference using Bayesian methods, assessing the fit of statistical models, applications of statistics in the social and biological sciences, and statistics in sports. Current collaborative projects include studies of climate systems with faculty at UC Irvine’s Department of Earth System Science and development of novel statistical models for genomewide association studies.

Johnson is mainly interested in developing Bayesian statistical methods for biostatistical and epidemiologic applications. He also works on diagnostic screening protocols and methodology when no gold standard test is available. Johnson collaborates regularly with veterinary medicine researchers at UC Davis.


Microsoft Research Recognizes van der Hoek

photo: André van der Hoek

van der Hoek

Informatics Professor André van der Hoek received a 2011 Software Engineering Innovation Foundation (SEIF) award, presented by Microsoft Research to support academic advances in software engineering technologies, tools, practices and teaching methods. van der Hoek’s proposal — “Calico: Software Design Sketching with a Cloud-based Software Whiteboard” — was one of 10 selected worldwide to receive the one-year award. Other recipients hail from such institutions as the University of Chile, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University.

At UCI, van der Hoek's research focuses on understanding and advancing the role of design, coordination and education in software. His research bridges into the educational realm by seeking and evaluating new approaches to teaching software engineering.


Franz Wins Award from Samsung

photo: Michael Franz


Michael Franz, UCI computer science professor, has teamed up with Samsung in a project to create better virtual machine architectures, especially for applications in mobile devices. For the year 2011, Samsung has awarded the sum of $350,000 to Franz as sole PI; at least two more years at the same funding level are planned.

Franz leads the Secure Systems and Languages Laboratory at UC Irvine, one of the top research teams on dynamic compilation, virtual machines and language-based computer security. In collaboration with the Mozilla foundation, he transitioned the JavaScript compilation technology invented in his lab into the Firefox browser, where it is used every day by hundreds of millions of people.


NSF awards $373k to CS professors


Computer science faculty and Information Systems Group (ISG) members Sharad Mehrotra, Mike Carey, Ramesh Jain, Nalini Venkatasubramanian and Chen Li received $373,000 from the National Science Foundation to develop I-sensorium, to serve as a "living laboratory" to support research in several related areas of cyber-physical systems including: theoretical foundations and underlying principles of building sentient systems; engineering, software and systems level challenges; and novel application contexts where such sentient systems can be used. Further information about this project can be found here.

ISG consists of computer science faculty members, affiliated faculty, students, visitors and project staff. It aims to address today’s rapidly evolving information infrastructure by conducting research on all aspects of modern data and information systems.



Doctoral Student Named Microsoft Research Fellow

photo: Qiang Liu


Qiang Liu, a third-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science, has been awarded a prestigious Microsoft Research Fellowship for 2011-2013. Exceptionally competitive, the award seeks to recognize “the best and the brightest from North America.” Liu, whose research focuses primarily on problems in artificial intelligence, statistics and computational biology, was one of 12 recipients this year; 174 applied from a select list of departments that were invited to participate. The fellowship provides two years of support, including tuition, living expenses and a conference travel allowance. Fellows also are offered a summer internship opportunity at Microsoft Research.

Liu’s research, advised by Professor Alexander Ihler, works to develop efficient algorithms for learning and approximate reasoning in graphical models, which are used to describe large, complex systems in terms of smaller, more manageable local dependencies. Graphical models also have come to be used across a wide range of disciplines.


Franz Wins Large DARPA Award

photo: Michael Franz


Michael Franz, UCI Computer Science Professor, has received a three-year $1.38 million award from DARPA’s Transformational Convergence Technology Office to investigate a new defense against software attacks. He is the sole PI of the project, which is inspired by biodiversity in nature and aims to create a similar diversity in the software that runs on the world’s computers. Currently, all users of a program download the exact same version of that program from a hosting site or an App Store. In Franz’s approach, the App Store will contain a diversification engine that will generate a unique version of every program for every user. This process will occur automatically inside of the AppStore, so that neither the software creators nor the users downloading it need to be aware of it.

From the end-user’s perspective, the different versions are indistinguishable and they all behave in exactly the same way, but internally, subtle differences make it impossible for an attacker to use the same attack for all the versions.

In order to make a large-scale attack successful, a perpetrator would have to launch many different attacks and would have no way of knowing which attack would succeed on which target. Equally important, this also makes it much more difficult to generate attack vectors by reverse-engineering security patches.

Franz leads the Secure Systems and Languages Laboratory at UC Irvine, one of the top research teams on dynamic compilation, virtual machines and language-based computer security. In collaboration with the Mozilla foundation, he transitioned the JavaScript compilation technology invented in his lab into the Firefox browser, where it is used every day by hundreds of millions of people.


Tomlinson Addresses Sustainability Conference

photo: Bill Tomlinson


Bill Tomlinson, Informatics Associate Professor, delivered a plenary address last week in Washington, D.C. at a workshop that explored research challenges facing worldwide sustainability. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the Computing Community Consortium, “The Role of Information Sciences and Engineering in Sustainability” aimed to identify new research opportunities in the information sciences and engineering that address sustainability objectives.

Tomlinson’s talk, “IT and (Un)sustainable Cultures,” addressed core societal principles that he believes are the root causes of our greatest environmental concerns. Specifically, he said, industrialized civilizations’ emphases on growth and consumption are deeply unsustainable. Profound transformations in personal, institutional and infrastructure goals will be necessary to support a more sustainable existence and IT can play an important role in this evolution.

He discussed the concept explored in his book, “Greening through IT,” that environmental issues occur on broad scales of time, space and complexity, but humans work best at narrower scales. “IT can help bridge this gap, enabling us to understand the complex chains of causality that underlie global climatic disruption, biodiversity loss, sea level rise and a host of other environmental issues,” he said. IT is also implicated in the creation of the world’s current environmental problems, he said, calling it a “force multiplier” that allows people to accomplish more and more. One way to approach these problems is to explore the ways in which IT can help alter unsustainable cultural norms and provide acceptable alternatives.

For example, he said, IT systems can help support local sustainable agriculture, public health, education and nutrition. They can provide social support and identity via social networking, virtualized workspaces and other support networks. These systems can also help people learn more about the world and how to live sustainably in it.

“These are not new ideas,” he said. But in order to create necessary cultural change that can lead to increased sustainability, “we need more IT researchers to work on these projects.”


Ramanan Collaborates on Next-Generation Visual Computing

photo: Deva Ramanan


Assistant professor of computer science Deva Ramanan will collaborate with Intel and Stanford University researchers to design innovative visual computing projects as part of a $100 million Intel initiative.

The new Intel Science and Technology Center on the Stanford campus, announced this week, is the first of several such centers on university campuses planned by the semiconductor and microprocessor giant. It is supported by a five-year, $10 million grant, and will focus on improving visual computing experiences for consumers and professionals. The center includes researchers from UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

Ramanan, whose research interests span computer vision, machine learning and computer graphics, will contribute to the center in the area of perceiving people and places, specifically “projects that use computer vision techniques to analyze people in images and recognize actions in videos,” he said.

“I am excited by the opportunity to collaborate… with the center. Intel is providing generous support in resources and funds which I’m confident will spur progress on such problems in visual computing.”


Tsudik is Keynote Speaker at Top Australasian Computer Science Event

photo: Gene Tsudik


Computer science professor Gene Tsudik delivered one of three keynote addresses last week in Perth, Australia, at the 2011 Australasian Computer Science Week conference – the region’s premier annual computer science event.

His talk, “Usable Security: The Case of Secure Pairing of Wireless Devices,” focused on the process of creating an initial secure channel between multiple wireless devices that were previously unassociated, for example: two cell phones, a cell phone/Bluetooth combination, or an MP3 player and a wireless headset. Lack of a prior security context and absence of a global security infrastructure opens the door for so-called "man-in-the-middle" or “evil twin” attacks.

Tsudik summarized notable pairing techniques, comparing and contrasting their advantages and limitations. He evaluated these methods based on usability and security, and discussed methods best-suited for specific combinations of devices and human abilities.

His talk also covered situations where more than two unfamiliar devices must be associated in order to ensure secure communications, and reported on a usability study that compares several such techniques. He concluded by highlighting still-unresolved issues and potential avenues for future research.

Tsudik, who serves as director of UCI’s Secure Computing and Networking Center (SCONCE) and vice-chair of ICS’s Department of Computer Science, is also editor-in-chief of the ACM “Transactions on Information and Systems Security.” His research interests include computer/network security and privacy, and applied cryptography.



Majumder Delivers ISVC Keynote

photo: Aditi Majumder


Aditi Majumder, Computer Science Associate Professor, was a keynote speaker at the International Symposium on Visual Computing 2010, a prestigious graphics and vision conference that brings together renowned researchers from all over the world.

Majumder’s talk, “Ubiquitous Displays: A Distributed Network of Active Displays,” presents her team’s work-in-progress on developing a new display paradigm in which displays are not mere carriers of information, but active members of the workspace — interacting with data, user, environment and other displays. The goal is to integrate such active displays seamlessly with the environment, making them ubiquitous to multiple users and data.

Majumder’s research aims to make multi-projector displays truly commodity products and easily accessible to the common man. Her significant research contributions include photometric and color registration across multi-projector displays, enabling use of imperfect projectors in tiled displays, and more recently a distributed framework for tiled displays via a distributed network of projector-camera pairs. A 2009 recipient of the NSF CAREER award, she has played a key role in developing the first curved screen multi-projector display being marketed by NEC/Alienware and is an advisor at Disney Imagineering for advances in their projection-based theme park rides.



Kobsa receives support from Disney for location-sharing research

photo: Alfred Kobsa


Informatics Professor Alfred Kobsa received a $25,000 gift from Disney Company to support his research on location-sharing applications on mobile devices. Together with Informatics PhD student Xinru Page, he will investigate novel interface designs for such applications that accommodate users' privacy and impression management desires. Special emphasis will be put on practical usage for car pooling purposes.

Professor Kobsa's research interests lie in the areas of user modeling and personalized systems, privacy, and in information visualization.



UC Irvine Computer Scientists awarded an NIH grant to develop novel search methods for searching biomedical literature

photo: Chen Li


photo: Xiaohui Xie


Computer science professors Chen Li and Xiaohui Xie have been awarded a $371,000 two-year grant from the National Institute of Health to develop novel search methods for mining biomedical literature.

The MEDLINE database, complied by the United States National Library of Medicine, is a comprehensive bibliographic database of life sciences and biomedical information. The database contains more than 19 million records from approximately 5,000 selected publications, covering much of the literature in biomedicine and health. The database is also growing fast, with thousands of updates every day.

Searching MEDLINE has become an indispensable component in the daily life of medical practitioners, biological researchers, and an increasing number of patients who prefer to seek medical information through their own hands.

Currently, searching MEDLINE is primarily conducted through the PubMed web server, maintained by National Center for Biotechnology Information of NIH, which handles millions of searches per day. Given the high popularity and importance, it is critical to study how to make MEDLINE search more powerful and easier to use.

Li and Xie, together with collaborators at Tsinghua University, China, have developed a system called iPubMed, to study how to support instant, error-tolerant search on MEDLINE publications.

Their published paper in the journal Bioinformatics demonstrated that the experience of searching MEDLINE can be significantly improved by instant search.

In the new search paradigm, a user can view the search results instantly as he or she types each letter of the query. Because the user can modify the query on the fly according to the instantly returned results, it can take much less time for them to locate the right items.

This new search model is also gaining popularity in other domains. For instance, Google recently released a new web search tool called Google Instant, which implements the similar idea. The error-tolerant feature is especially important when the user does not remember the exact spelling of the keywords, such as a disease name or an author name.

The NIH grant will support Professors Li and Xie’s research efforts to further improve the iPubMed system.

Li's research interests are in the fields of database and information systems, including Web search, large-scale data management, data cleansing, and data integration.

Xie's research focuses in machine learning, bioinformatics, computational biology and neural computation. He is interested in both developing novel machine learning theory and algorithms, and applying them to practical problems, such as biology and medical science.



Dechter et al place first in the 2010 UAI Challenge

photo: Rina Dechter


Computer science professor Rina Dechter, with her students, has won first place in the 2010 Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI) Approximate Inference Challenge. The UAI community is focused on developing algorithms for answering queries over knowledge-bases known as "graphical models" that represent both certain and uncertain information about the world.

For example, the algorithms can express the information that if an individual is a smoker, their chances for developing cancer are higher than someonw who is  a non-smoker. Given such statements with numerous additional such rules with and without numerical probabilities, which involve numbers in a particular domain such as medicine, researchers want to answer a variety of questions.

“When we get ‘evidence’ or observations, we want to know how they change our ‘belief’ about certain other facts,” says Dechter.  

“The evidence in the example is ‘Peter is smoking’, and I want to know the probability that ‘Peter has cancer.’  Or, I can have evidence that ‘Peter has cancer’ and the question I am interested in is what is the probability that ‘Peter smokes.’”

Overall, when there is a probabilistic graphical model describing some world – such as the medical domain in the example above – and evidence on specific individual conditions, computer scientist often attempt to compute such answers.

The UAI challenge is third in a series of events that challenge the UAI community to provide their code for approximation algorithms so that  they   all work on  the same set of problems and run on the same machines. The results are then announced.

In the UAI 2010 challenge Dechter and her team compared algorithms on each of three tasks, and for 3 different lengths of time, comparing the accuracy of their results against actual results.

Of the nine competing teams, Dechter with  Vibhav Gogate (currently a postdoctoral student at university of Washington)   were placed first on the  two tasks and (with  Lars Otten) placed third place on the third task.

Professor Dechter's research centers on computational aspects of automated reasoning and knowledge representation including search, constraint processing and probabilistic reasoning. The primary aim of her research is to devise efficient methods through the understanding and exploitation of tractable reasoning tasks.

Professor Dechter is an author of the book "Constraint Processing" published by Morgan Kaufmann, 2003, and has authored over 100 research papers. 


Olsons awarded $400,000 for study on distributed collaborations

photo: Gary Olson


photo: Judy Olson


Gary and Judy Olson, Bren Professors in Information and Computer Sciences, have been awarded $400,000 for their research entitled “Next Steps in Articulating Success Factors for Distributed Collaborations.”

The Olsons have spent the past decade studying work at a distance, both in science and engineering venues as well as in corporations. During this time, they have identified the major the factors that make for success in work at a distance. From these, the Olsons have developed a preliminary theory, called the Theory of Remote Scientific Collaboration (TORSC), published in 2008.

Given this theory, the Olsons have developed an online assessment device called the Collaboration Success Wizard, which goes through each of the important factors in question form and either confirms that the collaboratory has a good chance of success or suggests a remedy for the factors that are not met.

These assessments and data collected from the tool will be directed at deepening the understanding of what differentiates successful from unsuccessful distributed collaborations, and provide guidance to those who are developing such collaborations.

Gary and Judy Olson expect that their research will have major implications for the emergence of successful virtual organizations to facilitate distance collaborations, in science and beyond.

Gary Olson, author of more than 120 published research articles, has dedicated his work to understanding how technology can support remote collaboration. He also has made important contributions to the studies of management practice and the cultural aspects of collaboration, as well as the complex socio-technical issues surrounding technology design.

Judy Olson has published about 110 published research articles and is best known for her work on distance collaborations and has achieved international acclaim for her studies that compared office workers in geographically distributed organizations to those working in the same location.

They are both Fellows of the Association for Computing Machinery, and were jointly awarded the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award.


Dourish, Mazmanian receive $201,000 grant for "Scaling Social Networks to Social Movements"

photo: Paul Dourish


photo: Melissa Mazmanian


Paul Dourish and Melissa Mazmanian, Professors of Informatics, have received a $201,000 grant for their work entitled "Scaling Social Networks to Social Movements."

The research concerns the application of theories of social movement formation to digital media. Dourish and Mazmanian will explore questions such as how do people become involved in social or political movements through their participation online, and can digital systems help people to see themselves as part of a broader collective? The team will focus specifically on environmental sustainability.

Dourish's primary research interests are in the areas of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, and Ubiquitous Computing. He is especially interested in the foundational relationships between social scientific analysis and technological design.

Mazmanian's interests revolve around on the experience of communication technologies as used in-practice within organizational contexts, specifically in relation to identity projection and the nature of personal and professional time in the digital age. Her dissertation research explores the individual experiences and social dynamics that emerge when people adapt to using wireless email devices.


Dourish, Mazmanian receive $400,000 grant for "Innovating Across Cultures in Virtual Organizations"

photo: Paul Dourish


photo: Melissa Mazmanian


Professors of Informatics, Paul Dourish and Melissa Mazmanian have received a $400,000 grant over four years for the research entitled, "Innovating Across Cultures in Virtual Organizations."

The research team is looking at how design and creative work is managed in cross-cultural settings. In particular, how collaboration technologies and material practices shape the design process, and how cultural processes shape the production and interpretation of these practices.

Ph.D. student Lilly Irani will be spending a year doing ethnographic fieldwork with a design firm in India where the team will look at these practices in detail.

Dourish's primary research interests are in the areas of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, and Ubiquitous Computing. He is especially interested in the foundational relationships between social scientific analysis and technological design.

Mazmanian's interests revolve around on the experience of communication technologies as used in-practice within organizational contexts, specifically in relation to identity projection and the nature of personal and professional time in the digital age. Her dissertation research explores the individual experiences and social dynamics that emerge when people adapt to using wireless email devices.


Dourish, Hayes, receive $247,000 grant for "The Persistence of Digital Identity"

photo: Paul Dourish


photo: Gillian Hayes


Professors of Informatics, Paul Dourish and Gillian Hayes have been awarded a $247,000 grant over two years for their project entited "The Persistence of Digital Identity."

In this work, the team will be looking at phenomena concerning social media and death -- how people make arrangements for the curation of their digital identity, how the Internet provides a site for post-mortem memorialization, and how we manage the different "lifetimes" of people and their information.

Dourish's primary research interests are in the areas of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Human-Computer Interaction, and Ubiquitous Computing. He is especially interested in the foundational relationships between social scientific analysis and technological design.

Hayes’ interests are in human-computer interaction and ubiquitous computing. She studies record keeping and surveillance technologies, particularly in natural, unplanned and/or public settings. She also focuses on the application and uses of ubiquitous computing and CSCW technologies in the areas of education and healthcare.


Majumder receives Best Paper Award at IEEE CVPR Workshop on PROCAMS

photo: Aditi Majumder


Computer science professor Aditi Majumder has been awarded a Best Paper Award at the IEEE Workshop on Projector and Camera Systems (PROCAMS) held at the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) in San Francisco. Her paper entitled, "Display Gamut Reshaping for Color Emulation and Balancing" was coauthored by researchers at Ostendo Technologies Ltd.

Majumder et al present a hardware-assisted 3D gamut reshaping method that handles a gamut expansion in LED based DLP displays in emerging mobile digital light projectors (known commonly as pico-projectors). These projectors use multiple LED/laser sources instead of a singular white lamp providing a larger color gamut. The full abstract and paper can be found here [PDF link].

The IEEE CVPR Workshop on PROCAMS is one of the top international venues for projector-camera systems researchers and practitioners.

Majumder's research addresses novel projection based displays and methodologies to register and interact with them - an important problem to both the scientific and entertainment fields. Majumder has developed a suite of mathematical models, methods and software to register and interact with large tiled projection based displays.


Jain receives SIGMM Technical Achievement Award

photo: Ramesh Jain


Bren Professor of Information and Computer Sciences Ramesh Jain has received ACM’s Special Interest Group on Multimedia (SIGMM) Technical Achievement award.

The award, given in recognition of outstanding contributions over a researcher’s career, cited Jain’s “pioneering research and inspiring leadership that transformed multimedia information processing to enhance the quality of life and visionary leadership of the multimedia community”.

The SIGMM award will be presented at the ACM International Conference on Multimedia 2010 that will be held October 25-29, 2010 in Florence, Italy.

Jain has made pioneering contributions in the areas of multimedia information systems, image databases, machine vision, and intelligent systems for more than three decades. His early work on accumulative difference pictures established the dynamic vision field that has directly influenced today’s digital video processing. Many techniques such as background subtraction, tracking, and event detection were first introduced in his pioneering papers in this field.

In 1992, Jain proposed and organized the inaugural NSF workshop on visual information management systems that established a new research direction leading to the enormous advances that we see today in content-based analysis and search of images and video. Jain has pioneered techniques that analyze content and combine information from multiple sources.

His emphasis in recent years on event-based representation and analysis of multimedia data has led the community’s focus to be on live dynamic data. In fact, he has recently pioneered the first comprehensive multimedia Event model which is increasingly being adopted.

Professor Jain's research has also impacted society through his active entrepreneurship, having founded five companies producing software and services in the area of image processing, visual media retrieval and multimedia experience management on the mobile platform.


Stern, Yu receive $620,000 NSF grant for study in stastistical methods for climate systems

photo: Hal Stern


photo: Yaming Yu


Statistics professors Hal Stern and Yaming Yu, along with professor of earth systems science, Gudrun Magnusdottir, received a $620,000 3-year grant from the National Science Foundation to develop novel statistical methods for the analysis for climate systems and their interactions.

The award from the Collaboration in Mathematical Geosciences program will support the interdisciplinary work of a team that includes the faculty and graduate students from the two departments. The traditional approach to studying climate systems combines data from long periods of time assuming that the location of the systems is consistent over time. The proposed new approach would allow for the position of systems to vary smoothly over time.

Hal Stern is Ted and Janice Smith Family Foundation Dean. His research interests include: statistical inference using Bayesian methods, assessing the fit of statistical models, applications of statistics in health sciences and in the physical sciences.

Yu's research interests include statistical methods for missing data problems and statistical computing algorithms.


Welling wins Koenderink Prize at European Conference on Computer Vision

photo: Max Welling


Max Welling, professor of computer science, has been awarded European Conference on Computer Vision’s Koenderink Prize in recognition of his computer vision research paper that has “withstood the test of time.” Entitled “Unsupervised Learning of Models for Recognition,” the paper was originally published in 2000.

The research paper presents a method to learn object class models from unlabeled and unsegmented cluttered scenes for the purpose of visual object recognition. The authors focused on a particular type of model where objects are represented as flexible constellations of rigid parts (features):

“The variability within a class is represented by a joint probability density function (pdf) on the shape of the constellation and the output of part detectors. In a first stage, the method automatically identifies distinctive parts in the training set by applying a clustering algorithm to patterns selected by an interest operator. It then learns the statistical shape model using expectation maximization. The method achieves very good classification results on human faces and rear views of cars.”

Professor Welling's research lies in the areas of machine learning and machine vision with links to closely related areas such as pattern recognition, data mining, computational statistics, and large-scale data analysis.



Lilly Irani wins Best Paper Award at ACM ICIC

photo: Lilly Irani


Informatics Ph.D. Student Lilly Irani, along with Professors Paul Dourish and Melissa Mazmanian, have been awarded the Best Paper Award at the first ACM International Conference on Intercultural Collaboration.

The paper, entitled “Shopping for Sharpies in Seattle: Mundane Infrastructures of Transnational Design,” describes the importance of mundane tools for design practitioners in India who are working with Euro-American clients. The published findings are based on an ongoing ethnographic study of a design firm based in Delhi, India.

The research team analyzed everyday tools such as post-its as infrastructures with both practical and symbolic functions. These infrastructures are made meaningful in the shared practices of a transnational but primarily Euro- American design community. Material infrastructures shape the design processes and design communication as the teams work to established effective collaborations.

Irani’s research interests lie in the areas of political economy, globalization issues in technoculture, development, and critical innovation studies.

The full paper is available here (PDF).


Tsudik awarded $600,000 in NSF effort to re-design the Internet

photo: Gene Tsudik


Gene Tsudik, professor of computer science, has been awarded $600,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF)
as part of the Named Data Networking (NDN) project in the NSF Future Internet Architecture (FIA) program. The goal of 
FIA is to design a more effective, trustworthy and robust Internet protocols and techniques.

Led by Professor Lixia Zhang of UCLA, the NDN project will focus on Internet architecture that moves the communication paradigm from today's focus on "where" (i.e., Internet addresses, servers, and hosts), to "what" (i.e., content that 
users and applications care about).

Current Internet communication is based on a client-server model of interaction: communicating parties establish 
a relationship and then proceed to transfer information contained within IP packets transported along one or more paths. However, the most predominant use of the Internet is actually centered on content creation, dissemination and delivery, 
and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. While the basic client-server model has enabled a wide range of services and applications, it does not offer adequate mechanisms to support secure content-oriented functionality, 
regardless of the specific physical location where the content resides.

By naming data instead of its location (IP address), NDN transforms data into a first-class entity. 
While the current Internet mainly secures the channel between communication points,
NDN secures the content and provides essential context for security. NDN allows the decoupling of trust 
in data from trust in hosts and servers, enabling trustworthiness as well as several very scalable 
communication mechanisms, for example, automatic caching to optimize bandwidth and the 
potential to move content along multiple paths to the destination.

This goal of this project is to address technical challenges in creating NDN, including: routing scalability, 
fast forwarding, trust models, network security, content protection and privacy, as well as new 
fundamental communication theory.

UC Irvine will focus specifically on security and privacy aspects of the NDN architecture. Besides UCLA, other collaborating institutions include: PARC, Yale, Washington University and Colorado State.

Gene Tsudik's research interests include computer/network security, privacy and applied cryptography. 
His recent work focuses on privacy in Internet services, RFID systems, mobile ad hoc networks, as well as 
security in sensor networks and storage systems.

More about the Future Internet Architecture Awards is available here.


JULY 2010

Alumnus named Juan de la Cierva Fellow in Spain

photo: Claudio Soriente


Networked Systems alumnus, Claudio Soriente, Ph.D. '10 has been awarded the Juan de la Cierva Fellowship by the Spanish government.

As part of this fellowship award, Claudio will be conducting research at the Polytechnic University of Madrid as a member of the Distributed Systems Laboratory.

Soriente’s research focuses on security and privacy of large-scale distributed systems such as, sensor networks and parallel stream processing engines.

Juan de la Cierva Fellowships are highly prestigious and very selective 3-year post-doctoral positions financed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education. The program is designed to promote the recruitment of young PhDs, with the aim of helping them to join and strengthen Spanish research teams. Juan de la Cierva fellowships are highly competitive and are offered to young (less than three years from obtaining a PhD) promising individuals with an outstanding record of research.


Javanmardi places third in an international competition for detecting vandalism in Wikipedia

photo: Sara Javanmardi


Sara Javanmardi, a Ph.D. student in Informatics, has placed third in an international competition for detecting vandalism in Wikipedia.

Vandalism has always been one of Wikipedia's biggest problems, yet there are only few automatic countermeasures. Instead, volunteers spend their time in reverting vandalism edits — time, which is not spend on improving other parts of the Wikipedia. The goal of the evaluation campaign was to research and develop new, reliable ways to detect vandalism edits, which can be used to aid Wikipedia.

Sponsored by Yahoo! Research, the competition is part of the fourth International Workshop on Uncovering Plagiarism, Authorship, and Social Software Misuse PAN-10 will be held as an evaluation lab in conjunction with the Conference on Multilingual and Multimodal Information Access Evaluation in Padua, Italy.

Javanmardi's current research, in collaboration with Professor Cristina Lopes, focuses on social media content analysis. Her goal is to develop general quality-analysis and real-time search solutions that will be extendable to other Web 2.0 (social media) applications such as Twitter, Digg and blogs.

JUNE 2010

Irani receives 2010-11 Academic Senate’s Distinguished Award

photo: Sandy Irani


Computer science professor Sandy Irani has been named recipient of the 2010-11 Academic Senate Distinguished Award for Service. Irani was nominated given her outstanding performance as the first Chair of the Computer Science department, which was created during the ICS' transition from an autonomous department to the Bren School.

Part of the UC Irvine Academic Senate Distinguished Awards, the award recognizes faculty who have achieved excellence through their activities in research, teaching and service. The Academic Senate's Distinguished Faculty awards are selected by the Committee on Scholarly Honors and Awards.

Professor Irani's principal research interests are in quantum computation and information. Her recent work has focused on understanding the computational complexity of computing fundamental properties of quantum system as well as characterizing which quantum systems can be used for quantum computation.

Franz receives Academic Senate’s top research award

photo: Michael Franz


Computer science professor Michael Franz has been named the recipient of the 2010-11 Academic Senate Distinguished Award for Mid-Career Research — the Academic Senate’s highest honor for excellence in research.

Professor Franz, along with former graduate student Andreas Gal, is the inventor of Trace Compilation, a radically new way of building just-in-time compilers. This technique is widely regarded as the single biggest invention in compilers in 20 years. His research impact currently extends to 500 million people globally using software that integrates his technique, such as Mozilla’s Firefox browser. In addition, Franz’s research has enabled third world countries to connect using no-cost cloud software such as Gmail and Google Docs, thereby closing the gap in the “digital divide”.

Franz’s invention is a radical departure from the long-established convention of “control flow graph”, a technique used for over five decades to model a program’s control flow that a compiler builds and then traverses while generating code. Instead of constructing a control-flow graph of the program, Franz’s patent-pending technique called Trace Tree utilizes an intermediate representation that is constructed on-demand while the program is simultaneously executed, incrementally compiled and optimized.

The advantage of the Trace Tree technique is that it utilizes one-seventh (1/7) of the memory footprint and one-thirtieth (1/30) of the compile time of traditional compilers. Working with the Mozilla foundation, Franz has incorporated this technique into the Firefox browser, beginning with version 3.5. By incorporating the Trace Tree, Mozilla was able to raise Firefox’s JavaScript performance 700%.

Franz is currently in collaboration with Adobe to incorporate his just-in-time compiler into their next version of Flash. In addition, Google’s Android team has adopted Trace Compilation for the next generation smart phone operating system. These integrations coupled with the Firefox deployment will result in the impact of potentially several billion devices.

Professor Franz is director at UC Irvine’s Secure Systems and Software Laboratory. A Distinguished Scientist of the Association for Computing Machinery and a Senior Member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Franz has graduated 13 Ph.D. students, been awarded more than $7 Million in competitive Federal research funding as Principal Investigator, and has published more than 90 refereed papers.

The Academic Senate's Distinguished Faculty awards are selected by the Committee on Scholarly Honors and Awards.

Leon receives Excellence in Leadership Award

Christine Leon, Director of Student Affairs, has been named one of three UC Irvine Excellence in Leadership Award winners.

Leon was nominated by the Student Affairs Office staff for her excellent leadership of student affairs staff and was named an award winner by Executive Vice Chancellor-Provost Michael Gottfredson at last week's campuswide Staff Service Awards ceremony.

The Excellence in Leadership Award Program recognizes select staff supervisors who – through outstanding leadership – enhance staff morale, build an enriching work environment, and serve as a mentor or otherwise support the career development of their staff, all to the benefit of our UCI community.

EVC/Provost Gottfredson described Christine as a magnetic and engaging leader, who is selfless, honest and one who makes sound decisions for the good of her staff and the students of ICS. Christine has a great sense of fun and energy. She has inspired her staff to volunteer as a group annually for the Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. This has been not only a fun team-building and bonding experience, but one that allows the group to go beyond the everyday job and make a difference in the community.

Annette Luckow and Mark Cartnal were also nominated by their staff. With three nominations, ICS had the most nomination from a single unit on campus.

Tim Kashani '86 wins Best Musical Tony for Memphis

Tim Kashani '86, an undergraduate ICS alumnus, was a part of the production team that was awarded the Best Musical Tony Award last night at Radio City Music Hall. Kashani's company Apple and Oranges Productions is a partner in the Broadway release of the musical.

Memphis is loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s. It was staged during the 2003-04 season in Beverly, Massachusetts and Mountain View, California and opened on Broadway on October 19, 2009.

Kashani is also the CEO of IT Mentors, a technology training company. View his complete alumni profile here:



MAY 2010

ICS undergrads named finalist in Google's Juicy Ideas Competition

A Bren:ICS team of undergraduate students, PWNAGE, has been named one of six finalists in the Juicy Ideas Collegiate Competition. Computer Science and Engineering majors Jared Haren and Adrian Guzman, along with Informatics major Sabel Barganza are vying for an opportunity to win an all-expenses paid trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View and an Android-powered phone.

PWNAGE developed a mobile application for UCI Dining that allows users to locate dining options based on menus, wi-fi availability, hours and other key information.


Lopes named IEEE Senior Member

photo: Cristina Lopes


Cristina Lopes, associate professor in Informatics, has been elected a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology.

Senior Member status is a rare honor attained by approximately eight percent of IEEE's 382,400 members. It is conferred only on those who have outstanding research achievements and who have performed great service to the scientific community.

Dr. Lopes is best known as one of the co-inventors of Aspect-Oriented Programming. She conducts research in software engineering, specifically in large-scale source code search and analysis, and architectures for massive multi-user systems.

Van Dyk elected IMS Fellow

photo: David van Dyk

van Dyk

Statistics professor David van Dyk has been named a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. The Fellowship honors the outstanding research and professional contributions of IMS members who are leaders in the field of statistics and probability.

Professor van Dyk's scholarly work focuses on methodological and computational issues involved with Bayesian analysis of highly structured statistical models and emphasizes serious interdisciplinary research. He is particularly interested in improving the efficiency of computationally intensive methods involving data augmentation, such as EM-type algorithms and Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. A primary area of interdisciplinary work is Astro-statistics and focusing on constructing and fitting highly structured models for data obtained with the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Newly elected IMS Fellows will be recognized at the 73rd Annual IMS conference to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, August 9-13.


APRIL 2010

Borkar named inaugural Facebook Fellow

photo: Vinayak Borkar


Vinayak Borkar, a PhD student in computer science, has been named one of five inaugural Facebook Fellows.

Borkar's research focuses on ways to improve distributed computing platforms for data analysis and applied for a fellowship because of the complex data processing challenges Facebook is tackling.

"Large-scale data processing is undergoing a radical change. Innovation in these areas is happening at places like Facebook," says Borkar. "I look here for interesting data problems that will push the frontiers of research."

The Facebook Fellowship Program supports Ph.D. students who show promise in solving some of the biggest challenges facing the social web and Internet technology. Each fellow receives paid tuition and fees, a $30,000 stipend, conference travel and other benefits.

To see a complete list of winners, visit the Facebook announcement.

Vernica named Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges winner

photo: Rares Vernica


Rares Vernica, a PhD student in computer science, has been named one of the winners of the 2010 Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges Program, sponsored by Yahoo! Inc. for his work on "Efficient Similarity-Based Operators for Social Data." He was nominated by professors Michael J. Carey and Prof. Chen Li.

Vernica will take a look at social networking sites to explore how an extremely large social graph can be efficiently analyzed for the purposes of information retrieval/recommendation and social trend detection.

"The increasing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace has led to the emergent trend of increasing integration between content and social sites," says Vernica.

"In one direction, social sites are adding more and more content — such as photo, video, and news articles — to their sites to provide more practical utility to their users. Conversly, content sites like Amazon and Yahoo! Travel are incorporating social activities and connections to more deeply engage their users."

With the establishment of the OpenSocial ( Foundation, the integration of social sites and content sites will likely be one of the major trends in the next few years.

The Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges Program encourages top graduate students globally to collaborate with Yahoo! and help invent the future of the Internet. The program focuses on a variety of scientific issues, from developing algorithms that turn raw information into personally relevant experiences, to discovering insights about online advertising and experimenting with new sociological models for how people engage with the Web. More about the program can be found here.

Sambasivan, Nardi nominated for Best Paper at CHI 2010



photo: nithya sambasivan


Nithya Sambasivan, graduate student in informatics, and Professor Bonnie Nardi received a a Best Paper nomination at the CHI Conference 2010. Entitled, “Intermediated Technology Use in Developing Communities,” the paper is published in the Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computer Systems.

The paper describes a prevalent mode of information access in low-income communities of the developing world— intermediated interactions. The research takes an ethnographic look of two urban slums of Bangalore, India, studying how digitally skilled users can enable persons for whom technology is inaccessible due to non-literacy, lack of technology-operation skills, or financial constraints.

The paper presents some requirements and challenges in interface design of these interactions and explains how they are different from direct interactions. They go on to explain the broader effects of these interactions on low-income communities, and present implications for design.

Nithya Sambasivan is interested in human-centered technologies towards socio-economic betterment. She is also interested in mobile and ubiquitous computing as vehicles of social change.

Professor Nardi's research interests include theory in human-computer interaction and computer-supported collaborative work and studies of social life on the Internet. Her current work concerns World of Warcraft and online crafting communities such as Ravelry.

El Zarki, Lopes, Scacchi proposals win new initiative grants

photo: magda el zarki

El Zarki

photo: crista lopes


A program to train scientists to better manage vast, complex datasets, and a center that will transform human mobility through information technology and robotics, have been selected as the first recipients of the Large-Scale Interdisciplinary Research Ignition Initiative sponsored by Calit2, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences.

The funding program, announced last December, aims to promote interdisciplinary research that will evolve into large-scale, agency-funded projects or centers in the areas of health, energy, environment, information, communications or digital technologies.

The selection committee, comprised of deans Debra Richardson and Rafael Bras, and Calit2 Irvine director G.P. Li, chose the iScience project and iMove Center based on their multidisciplinary nature, likelihood of attracting significant funding from outside agencies, innovation, scientific value and long-term impact.

iScience seeks to address the escalating volume of data collected by natural scientists, who increasingly are stymied by the sheer size of the datasets. Data-driven computing faces challenges in storing and managing these large, complex distributed and dynamic data collections, and needs radically new tool sets and visualization schemes to effectively explore, mine, understand and extract new knowledge from the information.

Project PI Magda El Zarki (information and computer science) and co-PI Crista Lopes (informatics) propose a program to educate students, along with their faculty, across disciplines to create a new crop of scientists who are knowledgeable in the basic concepts of natural and computational sciences.

The iMove Center, led by co-PIs David Reinkensmeyer (mechanical and aerospace engineering, and biomedical engineering), Steve Cramer (neurology), Mark Bachman (electrical engineering and computer science) and Walt Scacchi (information and computer science) will search for ways to use information technology, robotics and neuro-regenerative therapies, including dance, sport and computer games, to improve human mobility and challenge patients beyond what is possible with current rehabilitation models.

Researchers hope to help shape new brain circuits and assess movement recovery with novel electrophysiological, functional imaging and behavioral outcome measures. The center also seeks to produce technologies useful to those without disabilities, including innovative, interactive training and performance technologies for sport and dance.

Each winning project will receive grants totaling $40,000: $20,000 now and $20,000 when a proposal is submitted to an outside agency requesting a minimum of $500,000 per year for at least 3 years. Additional calls for proposals for the initiative will occur in October 2010 and February 2011.

"We are pleased to be a part of this new multidisciplinary initiative that will ultimately benefit society," said Calit2's Li, "and we look forward to the long-term success of our first two recipient projects."

Mehrotra, Hore receive NEC Research Award

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


Professor Sharad Mehrotra and postdoctoral student Bijit Hore have received a $60,000 NEC Research Award to study Risk Containment in Cloud Computing Services for Data centric Applications.

Building upon the pioneering work by Mehrotra's group on privacy challenges in data outsourcing (also known as the database as a service model), the goal of this study is to understand information disclosure risks and design mechanisms to prevent disclosure in multi-tenant cloud environments and dynamic data integration applications such as mashups.

As cloud computing becomes prevalent for enterprise data management, increasingly privacy sensitive user data will be managed in such systems.

In addition, the project will address how one can reduce the risk of memory based leakage of critically sensitive information in the Mapreduce framework. The Mapreduce framework provides a highly scalable and robust approach for large data processing applications in a cloud-computing environment.

The NEC Research Award is a gift from the Nippon Electric Corporation's R&D division.

Mehrotra's current research focuses on next-generation information systems focusing on issues related to data quality, data dynamicity, and data privacy.

Majumder and Sajadi win Best Paper award at IEEE Virtual Reality 2010

photo: Aditi Majumder


photo: Behzad Sajadi


Computer Science Professor Aditi Majumder and graduate student Behzad Sajadi have received the Best Paper Award at the IEEE Virtual Reality 2010 conference held in Boston.

The paper, entitled "Auto-Calibration of Cylindrical Multi-Projector Systems," explores registering multiple projectors on vertically extruded a cylindrical display, which previously was only possible with a calibrated stereo camera.

This papers shows that using some simple priors, one can achieve multiple projector registration on a cylindrical display using a single uncalibrated camera without any markers on the display. More importantly, the new method enables use of multiple overlapped projectors across corners of a vertically extruded surface with sharp edges. This is of tremendous benefit to virtual reality display systems like CAVEs, that avoided mounting projectors across the corners until today.

The full paper can be accessed here:

IEEE Virtual Reality 2010 is the top international venue for virtual reality researchers and practitioners.

Professor Majumder's research addresses how to produce a seamless image on a large-scale tiled display - an important problem to both the scientific and entertainment fields. Majumder has developed a suite of mathematical models, methods and software to correct the geometric, chromatic and luminescent variations that arise when tiling multiple projection displays.

Lilly Irani speaks at the Commonwealth Club panel in San Francisco

Informatics graduate student Lilly Irani spoke on March 3 at a Commonwealth Club panel in San Fancisco. The panel brought together people from business, NGOs, and research to discuss the ethics and possibilities of crowdsourcing platforms such as Mechanical Turk, Crowdflower, and Samasource.



MARCH 2010

Li receives NSF grant to support Family Reunification project

photo: Chen Li


Professor of Computer Science Chen Li has received a $50,000 NSF grant for his project entitled "RAPID: Supporting Family Reunification for the Haiti Earthquake and Future Emergencies."

Li has been leading an effort on a website for family reunification for the Haiti earthquake ( In addition to crawling and scraping data from Web pages for the Google-hosted repository at, the team also built a powerful search interface on the data.

During this effort, the team has identified several interesting technical challenges that Li will study in this proposal. The research will focus on how to support powerful search in a could-computing environment, such as Google App Engine. The techniques developed in this project will have a broad impact on many information systems that are moving to the cloud-computing paradigm. The team will use the Google Person Finder project as a real application to test the techniques, and could provide the techniques and source code to be used in family reunification during future disasters.

Li's research interests are in the fields of database and information systems, including data integration, data cleaning, Web search, and large-scale information processing using parallel computing.

More on the project is available at:

Newman awarded NSF EAGER to analyze grant portfolios

photo: David Newman


Research Scientist David Newman has been awarded a $25,000 NSF EAGER Award for his research entitled "Analyzing Grant Portfolios through Topic Modeling." The goal of this research is to develop and apply topic models — Bayesian models for document collections — to model and analyze collections of grant proposals and their metadata (funding amount, NSF Directorate, NSF Program, etc.).

The award will be used to develop and demonstrate tools to help NSF program officers better analyze, visualize and interact with large collections of both unfunded proposals and funded projects. This will both help streamline the grant proposal review and decision process, and help NSF understand what areas of research could use more funding, or are under-represented.

Newman's current research focuses on theory and application of topic models and related text mining techniques. His research is marked by a commitment to combining theoretical advances with practical applications in ways that widen access and use for individuals and communities, and ultimately improve the way people find and discover information.



Mehrotra awarded Google Research Award to improve data quality

photo: Sharad Mehrotra


Professor Sharad Mehrotra and Assistant Adjunct Professor Dmitri V. Kalashnikov have been awarded a Google Research Award for $50,000 for a research effort entitled "Exploiting Entity Resolution for Web People Search."

The goal of this research is to explore a novel graphical domain-independent framework that exploits semantics of various forms to improve data quality. Data quality challenge is ubiquitous in various domains - it arises whenever we collect and create large repositories of information, especially when information is captured and assimilated automatically.

The award will be used to develop an adaptive self-tuning entity resolution framework which will be used to build an online search engine that can disambiguate amongst namesakes on the Web. The system will exploit web queries and search engine statistics for disambiguation.

Mehrotra's current research focuses on next generation database management systems that provide natural and efficient support for complex multidimensional data sets. Multidimensional data sets abound in numerous application domains in which database technology is currently being deployed. For example, medical information systems require databases to provide native support for X-rays, volumetric MRI scans, and time varying volumetric information.

Vaisenberg awarded IBM Ph.D. Fellowship

Doctoral student Ronen Vaisenberg has been awarded an IBM Ph.D. Fellowship.

The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program is an intensely competitive worldwide program, which honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation.

Vaisenberg's research focus is on problems that relate to the management, extraction and fusion of information from multiple media sources. This area relates the fields of databases and data management, time series data management, statistical databases, model building and classification applied in the context of media (text,image,video) processing.

His Ph.D dissertation deals with the issues related to the data management support for sentient systems, for various first responding and life preserving applications funded by NSF's ITR-Rescue (RESponding to Crisis and Unexpected Events) and the Department of Homeland Security's Safire (Situational Awareness for Firefighters). 



Noteworthy achievements archive: