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XRDS: News Archive 2015

FOUR KEY THINGS TO KEEP AN EYE ON IN VIRTUAL REALITY IN 2016

December 31, 2015 — It seems that 2016 will be a prolific year for Virtual Reality. Over 40 exhibitors are expected to share a "Gaming and Virtual Reality" corner at CES 2016, which shows a 77 percent increase as compared to 2015. Among the expected innovations, we count high-powered headsets, a series of new games driven by these headsets, improved cameras for generating "live action content" and, last but not least, the creation of VR entertainment centers, starting with a center called "the Void", located in Pleasant Grove, Utah, expected to be opened later in 2016. Find out more in this MIT Technology Review article!

MACHINES, LOST IN TRANSLATION: THE DREAM OF UNIVERSAL UNDERSTANDING

December 31, 2015 — The history of machine human language translation started in 1954, when the Georgetown-IBM experiment unveiled a Russian-English translation engine. It was intended to secure peace by "eliminating language barriers". As with many other AI forecasts in that period, it was believed that significant improvements should have occurred in a five-years time span. Nowadays, around sixty years later, we still lack a good, real-time, universal translator. Find out how far we are from the achievement of this goal and how new technologies are pushing forward the field's borders in this NPR article!

CHINA SET FOR QUANTUM LEAPS IN SPOOK-PROOF COMMUNICATIONS

December 30, 2015 — A good solution for today's problems faced by communication networks is represented by quantum technology. It is considered to be "unbreakable and impossible to hack", being easy to encrypt the messages and to detect the interception attempts. China has announced recently that it intends to create a 2000 km quantum communication network (which will be the worlds biggest system of its kind), from Beijing to Shanghai, and to send into space the first satellite for quantum communications in about six months. Read more about these projects in this SCMP piece of news!

UNIVERSITIES EXPAND CURRICULUM TO MEET DATA SCIENTIST DEMAND

December 26, 2015 — Data has become very important nowadays in driving research and in running businesses. Given the inherent data scientist demand, universities tried to adapt by extending their curriculum in order to meet this demand. Find out how universities like Oxford, Louisiana Tech and others addressed this problem in this article provided by InformationWeek.

NASA SAMPLE RETURN ROBOT CHALLENGE

December 25, 2015 — The fifth edition of the NASA Sample Return Robot Challenge will take place in 2016. For this challenge, NASA offers a total of $1.5 million in prizes. The goal of the competition is to make a robot that can navigate, find, collect and bring back samples, according to one of the two levels of difficulty proposed. Find out more about SRR 2016 and, if you think you and your team can do it, register until January 7, 2016, on the official website of the competition.

A LOOK AT NUMBERS BEHIND SOME OF 2015'S BIGGEST TECH STORIES

December 25, 2015 — MIT Tech Review's compilation of some of the breakthrough technolgies and new advances from in virtual reality to gene-editing technology. Read more about it here.

SMART CITIES HACKATHON

December 25, 2015 — The Smart Cities hackathon is an online, hardware/software hackathon that invites developers to solve urban city problems such as smart parking and waste managerment. The hackathon takes place in Jan. 11-31, and the winners will be invited to attend TiECon 2016 in May in Santa Clara, CA. See the event website for more details.

HOW AN MIT ALGORITHM CAN MAKE YOUR SELFIES MORE MEMORABLE

December 24, 2015 — A team of MIT researchers developed an algorithm that predicts, with a very high precision, the potential of a photo to be remembered by a person watching it. The algorithm was validated using 5000 Amazon Mechanical Turk users, showing an improvement of 30 percent over existing approaches. Find out more!

INSIDE GOOGLE'S QUANTUM COMPUTING LAB, QUESTING FOR THE PERFECT COMPUTER

December 23, 2015 — After we showed, in yesterday's story, the first results of the collaboration between Google, NASA and D-Wave Systems, today we shed light on another Google project, an effort of the company to build its own quantum computer, probably after D-Wave seemed to have difficulties in doing what an actual quantum computer should have done. The project is led by John Martinis, who joined Google in June 2014. Martinis and his team want to build an alternative to quantum annealers, what they name a "universal quantum computer". In March 2015 they were the first team to demonstrate that it was actually possible to build these universal quantum computers, after a long period in which it was thought that qubits cannot be reliable enough for this task. Their next goal is, now, to build a "complete universal quantum computer" with 100 qubits in two years. Hartmut Neven, Head of the Google Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, thinks that "the prodigious power of qubits will narrow the gap between machine learning and biological learning—and remake the field of artificial intelligence". Neven hopes that, with the work of Martinis at Google, the company should be able to do only "quantum machine learning" in about 10 years, vision that is "warily" accepted by Martinis. Read the whole MIT Technology Review story here!

CONTROVERSIAL QUANTUM MACHINE TESTED BY NASA AND GOOGLE SHOWS PROMISE

December 22, 2015 — Researchers at Google, IBM and NASA have been testing the quantum computer that they bought from D-Wave since 2013. D-Wave claims that their product is “the world’s first commercial quantum computer.” They have recently published their results on arxiV, showing that, for some specifically designed problems, they could reach a speed-up of 100 million times. Nevertheless, the conventional computer that lost the competition is able to run an alternative algorithm, rather than the one tested, which is similar to the algorithm "baked" into D-Wave's chip. This alternative algorithm would make it much more competitive against the quantum computer. Read more about this story here.

ESNET AT 30: EVOLVING TOWARD EXASCALE AND RAISING EXPECTATIONS

December 17, 2015 — The ESNet is a high performance network of the U.S. Department of Energy widely used by scientists at universities and other research institutions. ESnet recently celebrated its 30th anniversary, whch dates it even before most existing commercial networks. Read more about it here.

WHEN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE MAKES A PICTURE WORTH WAY MORE THAN A THOUSAND WORDS

December 11, 2015 — WordsEye is a new and very interesting Web tool that uses NLP to analyze a phrase received as input, that pulls up images described by the analyzed words and that applies a series of filters in order to transform these images into artworks. Most of the images generated by WordsEye are quite impressive and they speak for themselves. Watch some of them and read the whole article describing WordsEye here!

WHEN APPS TALK BEHIND YOUR BACK

December 10, 2015 — "Almost 9 percent of popular apps downloaded from Google Play interact with websites that could compromise users’ security and privacy, according to a study released in December by researchers at the University of California, Riverside. The team is now developing a tool (named AURA - Android URL Risk Assessor) that allows users to evaluate the riskiness of individual apps before downloading them. [...] While the current study was designed to raise awareness about the risky behavior of good apps, the team plans to make AURA available for developers, researchers, android users, and distributors like Google Play, said Xuetao Wei, assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, who led the project as a Ph.D. student at UCR. Iulian Neamtiu, associate professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, also played a key role during his time at UCR". Read the whole piece of news published by University of California, Riverside.

FACEBOOK'S NEW TOOLS TO HELP THE BLIND NAVIGATE SOCIAL MEDIA

December 9, 2015 — "Naquela Wright's life took an unexpected turn when she lost her eyesight as a teenager, but even when her world became immersed in darkness, the New Jersey resident didn't want to quit social media. [...] Navigating Facebook was a challenge at first. Diagnosed in 2010 with pseudotumor cerebri, a rare health condition in which pressure increases around the brain and can result in the loss of vision, Wright learned how to use a screen reader to peruse the site through the tap of keystrokes and sound of a robotic voice. Still, when a friend tags her in a photo, Wright often has no clue what the image shows. Now Facebook is trying to solve this problem by harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to create new tools that not only describe items in a photo but allows users to ask what's in an image". Find out more!

DRAM’S DAMNING DEFECTS AND HOW THEY CRIPPLE COMPUTERS

December 9, 2015 — "An investigation into dynamic random-access memory chip failure reveals surprising hardware vulnerabilities". Read an interesting IEEE Spectrum story that sheds light on usual computer errors and, especially, on how DRAM is responsible with a high proportion of them. Also, find out how retiring pages by the operating system could be an easy, low-cost, solution to almost 90 percent of the memory-access errors, as the hard DRAM errors are more prevalent than the soft ones, despite a common mistaken belief.

ACM NAMES 2015 FELLOWS

December 8, 2015 — "ACM has recognized 42 of its members for their significant contributions to the development and application of computing in areas from data management and spoken-language processing to robotics and cryptography. The achievements of the 2015 ACM Fellows are fueling advances in computing that are driving the growth of the global digital economy. [...] The 2015 ACM Fellows have been cited for contributions to key computing fields including software research, data mining, computer graphics, computer and mobile systems, system security, multiprocessor and memory architecture design, and research in sensor networks. ACM will formally recognize the 2015 Fellows at the annual Awards Banquet, to be held in San Francisco in June". Find the complete list on ACM's website!

SEARCH ENGINE CENSYS KNOWS THE INTERNET’S DIRTY LITTLE SECURITY SECRETS

December 8, 2015 — "The Austrian security company SEC Consult found that more than three million routers, modems, and other devices are vulnerable to being hijacked over the Internet. Instead of giving each device a unique encryption key to secure its communications, manufacturers including Cisco and General Electric had lazily used a much smaller number of security keys over and over again. That security screwup was discovered with the help of Censys, a search engine aimed at helping security researchers find the Internet’s dirty little secrets by tracking all the devices hooked up to it. Launched in October by researchers at the University of Michigan, it is likely to produce many more hair-raising findings. Google is providing infrastructure to power the search engine, which is free to use". Read more about Censys in this MIT Technology Review article!

THE HOUR OF CODE IS COMING

December 4, 2015 — "The Hour of Code is a global movement to try an hour introduction to computer science, reaching tens of millions of students in 180+ countries. Please get involved during Computer Science Education Week, December 7-13. 24,111 teachers want volunteers passionate about computer science education to help with their Hour of Code this December. 9,149 volunteers have signed up. Join them.These teachers would love to have somebody passionate about computer science education who can help in the classroom, or for somebody who can inspire their students by talking about the breadth of possibilities with computer science (which could be done through a video chat)." Sign up to volunteer here.

STANFORD STUDENTS PUT COMPUTER SCIENCE SKILLS TO SOCIAL GOOD

December 4, 2015 — "When Stanford University computer science (CS) undergraduate Lawrence Lin Murata heard a lecturer say last fall no campus organizations existed that used CS to make a positive social impact, he wondered if he could change that. A year later, Murata has created CS+-Social Good with the help of three other Stanford students and Keith Schwarz, their faculty sponsor. The group is focused on giving students opportunities to explore and practice their CS skills in the context of doing social good. It organizes speaking events and even organized a class this semester that focuses on bringing students together with nonprofit partners. Murata says the projects being worked on by the students in the Using Web Technologies to Change the World class "will reach over 25 million people by the end of the year." The projects include a group of students working with the government of Delhi, India, to create a website to track the progress of government programs, and a partnership with nonprofit group SIRUM to help connect institutions with surplus medication to safety-net clinics serving poor and uninsured populations. CS+-Social Good also plans to launch a new project this winter that will help four student teams identify and develop technological solutions for problems in areas such as healthcare and education." Read more about it here!

AMAZON UNVEILS NEW PRIME AIR DRONE PROTOTYPES

December 3, 2015 — Amazon Prime Air has recently released video showcasing their drone technology used for delivering their product. Read about it here!

FOUR NEW WAYS TO CHILL COMPUTER CHIPS

December 1, 2015 — "The conventional approach to dissipating the heat is to attach the silicon die to a copper or aluminum block carved with elaborate fins and ridges. A plastic fan blows air across the metal. As you can guess, these systems can be bulky, noisy, and power hungry. Plus, heat sinks and fans won’t cut it for future processors, which will be 3-D stacks of ICs. Such layering can trap heat between chips, making getting rid of it even harder. Researchers are exploring better ways to cool chips and gadgets, either by redesigning tried-and-tested methods or drastically overhauling them". Four new methods seem to propose good solutions to this problem. The first, Tiny Water Pipes, would "carve microfluidic channels into a chip or substrate and pumping a fluid coolant through them". The second, The Fridge, is studied by researchers who "are looking at evaporating refrigerants inside microfluidic channels". Te third, The Fan of Fans, "is a flat, circular piece of aluminum carved with fins that spins like a fan". Finally, the Carbon Nanotubes, "have some of the highest-known heat conductivity and are flexible", so they are a good substitutes for the polymers and thermal greases. Read the full IEEE Spectrum article on this subject!

WHAT ARE YOUR APPS HIDING?

November 27, 2015 — "MIT researchers have found that much of the data transferred to and from the 500 most popular free applications for Google Android cellphones make little or no difference to the user’s experience. Of those «covert» communications, roughly half appear to be initiated by standard Android analytics packages, which report statistics on usage patterns and program performance and are intended to help developers improve applications. «The interesting part is that the other 50 percent cannot be attributed to analytics» says Julia Rubin, a postdoc in MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), who led the new study. Find out more!

NASA GIVES MIT A HUMANOID ROBOT TO DEVELOP SOFTWARE FOR FUTURE SPACE MISSIONS

November 26, 2015 — "A group led by CSAIL principal investigator Russ Tedrake will develop algorithms for the robot, known as «Valkyrie» or «R5» as part of NASA’s upcoming Space Robotics Challenge, which aims to create more dexterous autonomous robots that can help or even take the place of humans «extreme space» missions. Tedrake’s team, which was selected from groups that were entered in this year’s DARPA Robotics Challenge, will receive as much as $250,000 a year for two years from NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directive". Read more here!

ACM'S DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS CITED FOR ADVANCES IN COMPUTING THAT WILL YIELD REAL WORLD IMPACT

November 25, 2015 — "ACM has named 49 Distinguished Members to highlight how the work of these innovators is changing the world. This special recognition grade from ACM honors members working in the areas of education, engineering and science. 'Whenever we use an app on our phone to get driving directions, securely pay bills online, or conduct an internet search, we are benefiting from the research and efforts of computing professionals', explained ACM President Alexander L. Wolf. 'By honoring the 2015 ACM Distinguished Members, we hope to reinforce this idea'. The criteria for selection to the Distinguished Member grade include at least 15 years of professional experience, five years of continuous ACM membership, and significant accomplishments or impact within the computing field". Read more here!

“SHRINKING BULL’S-EYE” ALGORITHM SPEEDS UP COMPLEX MODELING FROM DAYS TO HOURS

November 20, 2015 — "MIT researchers have developed a new algorithm that vastly reduces the computation of virtually any computational model. The algorithm may be thought of as a shrinking bull’s-eye that, over several runs of a model, and in combination with some relevant data points, incrementally narrows in on its target: a probability distribution of values for each unknown parameter. With this method, the researchers were able to arrive at the same answer as a classic computational approaches, but 200 times faster". Find out more!

STREAMLINING MOBILE IMAGE PROCESSING

November 19, 2015 — "As smartphones become people’s primary computers and their primary cameras, there is growing demand for mobile versions of image-processing applications. [...] At the Siggraph Asia conference last week, researchers from MIT, Stanford University, and Adobe Systems presented a system that, in experiments, reduced the bandwidth consumed by server-based image processing by as much as 98.5 percent, and the power consumption by as much as 85 percent. The system sends the server a highly compressed version of an image, and the server sends back an even smaller file, which contains simple instructions for modifying the original image.". Read more about this technique in the original MIT News article.

WEB TOOL HELPS PEOPLE VISUALIZE, MAKE SENSE OF LARGE COMPLEX DATASETS

November 18, 2015 — "Datasets for everything from gene expression to employment demographics are growing so large and complex that automated methods sometimes seem like the only way to glean knowledge from them. But a new web-based tool being developed at Carnegie Mellon University provides the option to keep human judgment and intuition in the analytic loop. Called Explorable Visual Analytics, or EVA, the tool uses a novel computer architecture that enables the analyst to explore raw data through dynamic visualizations with minimal time delay. It's designed to help users make sense of "high-dimensional" data — that is, data with lots of parameters". Find out more!

SUPERCOMPUTER LEADERS COME TOGETHER ON NEW OPEN-SOURCE FRAMEWORK

November 17, 2015 — "Almost all supercomputers run on Linux. Now, the Linux Foundation, along with high-performance computer industry leaders, are announcing a new open-source software framework for HPC environments". The project is called OpenHPC Collaborative Project and it has the goal of making a robust and diverse open-source software stack, with a flexible framework for configuration and providing appropriate tools for testing and validation, while reducing the costs. Read the whole story here!

READING THE SIGNS - ENHANCED HCI THROUGH HAND POSES DETECTION

November 13, 2015 — It is very difficult to extract 3D hand poses from 2D images, as dealing with all the parameters involved makes the whole process computationally demanding. To approach this problem, Li Cheng and some colleagues from A*STAR Bioinformatics Institute proposed a method that breaks the process in two different steps, the first dealing with the hand's and the wrist's general position and the second one analyzing the palm and the individual finger poses, based on human hand's anatomy. This approach proved to allow real-time analysis and to work "for a broad range of poses, under different lighting conditions, and even if a person wears gloves". Therefore, the technique could be easily adopted as an innovative HCI method for interacting with laptops or smartphones. Read the whole story provided by A*STAR Research.

THE DRONE THAT MIGHT NEVER COME DOWN

November 12, 2015 — "A new automated aerial vehicle uses an extremely thin wire tethered to the ground to transmit power and data. [...] Called Parc, the drone can perform aerial surveillance indefinitely, using a microfilament that transmits power and data. Of course the fact that it’s tethered means the drone can’t travel very far. CyPhy Works expects it to be used for reconnaissance or as a communications relay." Read the full article provided by MIT Technology Review.

TOYOTA INVESTS $1 BILLION IN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN SILICON VALLEY

November 11, 2015 — Toyota announced on Friday that it will build an AI research facility in US, headquartered in Silicon Valley. The company also announced that it will invest, initially, $1 billion in this research center, organized as a stand-alone company and named Toyota Research Institute, over five years. "The new center will initially focus will initially focus on artificial intelligence and robotics technologies and will explore how humans move both outdoors and indoors, including technologies intended to help the elderly", according to New York Times. It intends to make driving safer rather than completely replacing the cars, as opposed to the current trend of investing many resources in building self-driving cars. To find out more, read the full article!

GOOGLE JUST OPEN SOURCED TENSORFLOW, ITS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ENGINE

November 10, 2015 — Google's deep learning engine, named TensorFlow, is being open-sourced, according to an announcement made by the company on Monday. Taking this decision, the company will most certainly bring significant contributions to the field of AI. According to Jeff Dean, a Google Senior Fellow, they're hoping "that the community adopts this as a good way of expressing machine learning algorithms of lots of different types, and also contributes to building and improving [TensorFlow] in lots of different and interesting ways”. He also says that "TensorFlow is well suited not only to deep learning, but to other forms of AI, including reinforcement learning and logistic regression". The project is managed by the company itself, being available at the address Tensorflow.org. Read the full Wired article on this subject here!

EXAHYPE: SOFTWARE FOR EXASCALE-CLASS SUPERCOMPUTERS

November 6, 2015 — "A billion billion, i.e. 1018 computer operations per second, is the level of performance that the next generation of supercomputers should be able to deliver. However, programming such supercomputers is a challenge. Since October 2015, the European Commission is funding "ExaHyPE", an international project coordinated at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), which seeks to establish the algorithmic foundations for exascale supercomputers in the next four years. The aim is to develop novel software, initially for simulations in geophysics and astrophysics, which will be published as open-source software for further use". Read more on TUM's website!

ANTIVIRUS MIGHT CATCH MORE MALICIOUS CODE USING NEURAL NETWORKS

November 4, 2015 — "Computer malware can often evade antivirus security software if the author changes a few lines of code or designs the program to automatically mutate before each new infection. Artificial neural networks, trained to recognize the characteristics of malicious code by looking at millions of examples of malware and non-malware files, could perhaps offer a far better way to catch such nefarious code. An approach known as deep learning, which involves training a network with many layers of simulated neurons using huge quantities of data, is being tested by several companies." Read the whole MIT Technology Review story.

ALPHABET’S STRATOSPHERIC LOON BALLOONS TO START SERVING INTERNET TO INDONESIA

November 2, 2015 — Alphabet said last Wednesday that it has signed an agreement with Indonesia’s largest telecommunications companies, Indosat, XL Axiata, and Telkomsel, for a series of trials starting in 2016 that will include providing high-speed wireless Internet service to smartphones and other devices used by the network’s subscribers. To accomplish this, Alphabet will use the Loon balloons, a fleet of stratospheric helium balloons floating 20 kilometers overhead, solving the problem of limited or nonexistent Internet access posed by the archipelago of over 17,000 islands, which makes communications infrastructure complex to deploy. Read more in this MIT Technology Review aticle!

FASTER OPTIMIZATION ALGORITHM

October 31, 2015 — "New general-purpose optimization algorithm promises order-of-magnitude speedups on some problems". The cutting-plane algorithm was proposed by a trio of present and past MIT graduate students. "With the best general-purpose cutting-plane method, the time required to select each new point to test was proportional to the number of elements raised to the power 3.373. Aaron Sidford, Yin-Tat Lee, and Sam Wong got it down to 3". "Moreover, they describe a new way to adapt cutting-plane methods to particular types of optimization problems", "and in many of those cases, they report dramatic improvements in efficiency, from running times that scale with the fifth or sixth power of the number of variables down to the second or third power". Read the whole MIT News story about this algorithm!

NOVENA: A LAPTOP WITH NO SECRETS

October 29, 2015 — Andrew Huang & Sean Cross, two self-employed American computer scientists living in Singapore, have built, during the past three years, a laptop with nothing but open-sourced hardware and software. Find out the whole story of the Novena project, as it was called, here!

INTERNATIONAL MOBILE GAMING AWARDS

October 28, 2015 — Computer games are probably those who triggered your love for computers, since you were a child. Years later, pursuing a Computer Science degree, you possibly tried, among other projects, to develop computer games as well. If you built a mobile game you're proud of, International Mobile Gaming Awards (IMGA) could be the right place for you to let the world know about it. The competition has even a special category for unpublished games: Best Upcoming Game. The application deadline is December 31, 2015. Read more about IMGA, about the categories, the conditions, or about the rules on the official website!

DEFINING SCALABLE OS REQUIREMENTS FOR EXASCALE AND BEYOND

October 23, 2015 — Over the past couple of decades two primary trends have driven system software for supercomputers to become significantly more complex. First, hardware has become more complex. Second, applications have changed. As part of providing comprehensive system services, the compute node operating system is being integrated into the control system, which is sometimes referred to as the global OS. An interesting HPC wire article discusses the challenges and needs of the OS on the compute node.

IS YOUR DIGITAL INFORMATION MORE AT RISK TODAY THAN 10 YEARS AGO?

October 22, 2015 — Professor Stephanie Forrest and Ph.D. student Benjamin Edwards, from University of New Mexico (UNM) Department of Computer Science, and Steven Hofmeyr, from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, say that our digital information is not more at risk today than 10 years ago. Data breaches, in general, are not growing in size. Read their whole opinion in this news article provided by UNM!

LENGTH BEATS NUMBERS AND UPPERCASE LETTERS WHEN IT COMES TO PASSWORD STRENGTH

October 21, 2015 — Common advice on how to make a strong password is misleading, according to a new study of password-guessing techniques. Latest password guessing software is smarter than just guessing at random. Instead it is trained using leaked lists of millions of passwords to make guesses that try the patterns found in passwords, most commonly used first. Requiring numbers and uppercase characters in passwords doesn’t do much to make them stronger. Making a password longer or including symbols was much more effective. Read the whole MIT Technology Review article on this topic here!

IBM MASTER THE MAINFRAME

October 19, 2015 — The IBM Master the Mainframe contest is an exciting opportunity for students to gain real-world experience using enterprise computing skills. Hosted at high schools, colleges and universities all over the world, this unique mainframe computing contest is designed to equip students with mainframe knowledge, and challenge their skills in a hands-on coding experience. Anyone who is currently a student at the high school or university level can compete, no previous experience being required! The registration deadline is December 31, 2015. Visit the official webpage of the competition here!

THE ALLEN AI SCIENCE CHALLENGE

October 12, 2015 — The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) has launched a competition for developing a computer program that automatically answers 8th grade level science exam questions. This competition is organized in the framework of the Aristo project, previously presented by XRDS News. The team that achieves the highest score on a given test set will receive a top prize of $50,000 and prizes will be offered to the next two highest scoring teams too. The submission deadline is February 5, 2015. Go to the official webpage of the competition!

DISNEY BUILDS SMART LIGHT BULB USING MIPS-BASED QUALCOMM ATHEROS SOC

October 9, 2015 — Last week, a team of scientists from Disney Research and the ETH Zurich University in Switzerland took the concept of connected devices to a whole new level. They described the architecture of an innovative LED-to-LED communication system that can be implemented inside toys, wearables, mobile devices, and other devices. The new demonstration kit – tentatively called the Linux Light Bulb – uses visible light to send data at a rate of up to 1 kbps. The bulbs are designed to interact with other gadgets that may not have full Wi-Fi connectivity and instead will read data using a technology called Visible Light Communication (VLC). Read more here!

IBM SCIENTISTS FIND NEW WAY TO SHRINK TRANSISTORS

October 6, 2015 — IBM scientists reported that they see a path through the "red brick wall", the limit of the industry’s ability to shrink transistors beyond a certain size. The team discussing this possibility in the journal Science said it has found a new way to make transistors from parallel rows of carbon nanotubes. If their theory proves to be true, it will be possible, after the beginning of the next decade, to shrink the contact point between the two materials to just 40 atoms in width, the researchers said. Three years later, the number will shrink to just 28 atoms, they predicted. Read the full NY Times article on this topic here!

GOOGLE, NASA SIGN 7-YEAR DEAL TO TEST D-WAVE QUANTUM COMPUTERS AS ARTIFICIAL BRAINS

October 4, 2015 — "D-Wave Systems said Monday that the company has signed a seven-year deal with Google, NASA, and the Universities Space Research Association to supply D-Wave’s quantum computers as part of an ongoing investigation to see whether they could be used as the next artificial intelligence platform." Read the whole PCWorld article!

A GEL-COVERED TOUCH SCREEN WHOSE BUTTONS RISE AND FALL | MIT TECHNOLOGY REVIEW

September 29, 2015 — Researchers from the Technische Universität Berlin in Germany developed a prototype of a gel touch screen that can morphe into temporary buttons when heated. This enables user interaction with display touch screen different from conventional smartphone or tablet touchscreens. This study will be presented in the ACM User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) conference in November. Read more about this here.

XPRIZE AND GOOGLE ANNOUNCE WINNERS OF ANNUAL STEM-BASED COMPETITION, MOONBOTS

September 25, 2015 — XPRIZE and Google today announced the winners of the 2015 MOONBOTS Challenge, an international competition that inspires the next generation of space explorers and innovators by inviting kids ages 8-17 to design, create and program their own lunar rover, based on a legend or theory that inspires them about the moon. For the first time since the inception of MOONBOTS in 2010, the majority of the winning teams’ members are female — breaking stereotypes in the typically male-dominated fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Read more about it here

CONNECTED FUTURE INNOVATION CHALLENGE

September 24, 2015 — New connected products are entering the market at an exponential rate, but the reality is that many products are not as great as they are hyped up to be. Starting from this premise, Autodesk proposes a challenge for the U.S. students. The participants should come up with a great idea for an innovation or invention, or with an improvement to the products or devices they use every day. The application deadline is October 30, 2015. Find out more about the competition here!

IT’S NOW POSSIBLE TO 3-D PRINT TRANSPARENT GLASS

September 24, 2015 — MIT Media Lab Researchers built the first 3D printers that can extrude molten glass and digitally fabricate glass object. This is a breakthrough compared to traditional glass blowing techniques because the precise 3D printing extrusion enable non-smooth internal structure to be constructed. Read more about it here.

LEARNING SPOKEN LANGUAGE

September 22, 2015 — System learns to distinguish words’ phonetic components, without human annotation of training data. Unlike its predecessors, it can detect lower-level phonetic units, such as syllables and phonemes. The system was inspired from the way in which children learn a language, without knowing how to write, by looking at patterns for figuring out its structures. Learn more about it!

SOFTWARE CALLED ARISTO CAN TAKE ON HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE EXAMS

September 19, 2015 — Aristo is a computer program currently being developed by researchers at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle, who uses New York State’s standard science exams to teach the machine "common sense" . Read more about it here.

FACEBOOK'S NEW SPAM-KILLER HINTS AT THE FUTURE OF CODING

September 15, 2015 — Facebook software engineer, Louis Brandy, discusses why the functional programming language Haskell is ideal for building Facebook's anti-spam system. Read more about it here!

MORE STUDENTS TAKING AP PHYSICS, COMPUTER SCIENCE EXAMS

September 14, 2015 — The Advanced Placement science exams is a program that enable high school students to take college-levelled courses for credit during their precollege years. According to a CollegeBoard survey, there has been recent growth in the number of students taking AP Physics and Computer Science Exams. Read more about it here!

A NEW DESIGN FOR CRYPTOGRAPHY’S BLACK BOX

September 8, 2015 — Two years ago, a computer science professor at University of California, Los Angelos, Amit Sahai, published a groundbreaking result on the method of "indistinguishiability obfuscation" in computer security, which is a universal basis that crytographic tools can be reconstructed. Recently, there has been important advances in the field by Columbia University professor Allison Bishop that breaks up the IO methods into smaller steps that holds potential in making IO implmentation more practical.Read more about it here!

GAMING COMPUTERS OFFER HUGE, UNTAPPED ENERGY SAVINGS POTENTIAL

September 7, 2015 — Berkeley Lab researcher Evan Mills co-authored an investigation of the aggregate global energy use of personal computers designed for gaming and found that gamers can achieve important energy savings. The researchers built five gaming computers with progressively more efficient component configurations, then followed industry protocols for benchmarking performance while measuring energy use. They were able to achieve a 50 percent reduction in energy use while performance remained essentially unchanged. Additional energy savings were achieved through operational settings to certain components, yielding total savings of more than 75 percent. The results have been published in the journal, Energy Efficiency, in a paper titled, “Taming the energy use of gaming computers”. Read the full piece of news provided by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory!

IBM TESTS MACHINE LEARNING TO HELP CHINESE CITIES DECREASE AIR POLLUTION

September 5, 2015 — IBM researchers are developing a prototype system which is able to generate high-resolution air quality forecasts, 72 hours ahead of time for the city of Beijing. It does so by combining large quantities of data from several different models. IBM uses data supplied by the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau to refine its models, the predictions having a resolution of a kilometer and being 30 percent more precise than existing approaches. The system could eventually offer specific recommendations on how to reduce pollution to an acceptable level (for example, by closing certain factories or temporarily restricting the number of drivers on the road). Read more!

CSTA - CUTLER-BELL PRIZE

September 5, 2015 — The ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing recognizes talented high school students in computer science. The intent of the program is to promote and encourage the field of computer science, as well as to empower young and aspiring learners to pursue computing challenges outside of the traditional classroom environment.

The application process involves a Challenge that focuses on having the student develop an artifact that engages modern computing technology and computer science. Judges will be looking for submissions that demonstrate ingenuity, complexity, relevancy, originality, and a desire to further computer science as a discipline. The application period closes January 1, 2016.

Four winners will be selected annually and each will be awarded a $10,000 prize and cost of travel to the annual ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize in High School Computing Reception, where students will demonstrate their programs and discuss their work. The prizes will be funded by a $1 million endowment established by David Cutler and Gordon Bell.

The inaugural awards will be announced in February 2016.

THIS GIRLS' SUMMER CAMP COULD HELP CHANGE THE WORLD OF AI

September 3, 2015 — SAILORS, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s Outreach Summer program, is the first AI summer camp for girls in U.S. and the brainchild of Olga Russakovsky, a recently graduated PhD student who spent eight years at the Stanford AI lab. Backed by more than forty university professors, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students from the lab, as well as big-name corporate sponsors like Google, the camp aims to remove the Achilles heel of AI research and, indeed, computer science as a whole: there aren’t enough women. Read an interesting Wired story about it!

THE FLASH STORAGE REVOLUTION IS HERE

August 28, 2015 — A Samsung drive, called PM1633a, was announced at the Flash Memory Summit in California. It has an impressive size of 16 TB, but the most astonishing fact is that it's a solid state drive. Samsung used a new way of approaching flash storage manufacturing, called V-NAND. Rather than place the cells along a single layer, as had been standard practice since NAND flash was invented in the 1980s, it would stack them vertically. That allows for much greater density, which gives you much more storage space. An even bigger breakthrough could be Intel and Micro’s 3D XPoint technology, which completely rethinks the way we’ve been making memory for years. Rather than rely on transistors to store information, as traditional flash memory does, 3D Xpoint deploys a microscopic mesh of wires, coordinated by something called a “selector” that can be stacked on top of one another. The result is “non-volatile” storage that’s 1,000 times faster than NAND flash, and 10 times denser than the volatile DRAM. Read the whole Wired story here!

LEMELSON-MIT STUDENT PRIZE

August 27, 2015 — The Lemelson-MIT Student Prize honors promising collegiate inventors around US. The student prize is open to teams of undergraduate students and individual graduate students who have technology-based inventions in categories that represent significant sectors of the economy: Healthcare, Transportation, Food & Agriculture and Consumer Devices. The application deadline is October 13, 2015. Find out more!

IBM'S 'RODENT BRAIN' CHIP COULD MAKE OUR PHONES HYPER-SMART

August 26, 2015 — "At a lab near San Jose, IBM has built the digital equivalent of a rodent brain - roughly speaking. It spans 48 of the company's experimental TrueNorth chips, a new breed of processor that mimics the brain's biological building blocks". Read the full story published on Wired.com!

IEEEXTREME 24-HOUR PROGRAMMING COMPETITION

August 23, 2015 — IEEEXtreme is a global challenge in which teams of IEEE Student members—advised and proctored by an IEEE member, and often supported by an IEEE Student Branch—compete in a 24-hour time span against each other to solve a set of programming problems. IEEEXtreme 9.0 will be held 24 October 2015 00:00:00 UTC. Registration will be open through 12 October 2015. Find out more on the official website of the competition!

FROM PROTEIN DESIGN TO SELF-DRIVING CARS: UW RESEARCHERS WIN AI PRIZE FOR NEW OPTIMIZATION APPROACH

August 20, 2015 — University of Washington machine learning researchers have developed a radically new approach to optimization, in part by borrowing a classic technique from artificial intelligence and computer science. The paper outlining their approach won the top prize in July at the 24th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, the world’s largest AI conference. The UW optimization algorithm, known by its acronym RDIS, can identify variables that, once set to specific values, break a larger problem into independent subproblems. It was tested against leading optimization methods in two real-world applications: determining the shape of folded proteins and accurately constructing three-dimensional objects and scenes from two-dimensional images. For the latter, their approach was between 100,000 and 10 billion times more accurate than current optimization techniques. Read more here!

PROGRAMMING AND PREJUDICE: FINDING BIAS IN ALGORITHMS

August 19, 2015 — Suresh Venkatasubramanian, an associate professor in the University of Utah’s School of Computing is the Head of a team of researchers that have discovered a technique to determine if software programs discriminate unintentionally and violate the legal standards for fair access to employment, housing and other opportunities. The team has determined a method to fix these potentially troubled algorithms. Venkatasubramanian presented his findings at the 21st Association for Computing Machinery’s SIGKDD Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining in Sydney, Australia. Find out more!

MOZILLA TESTING BROWSER FEATURE TO PUT USERS IN TRULY PRIVATE MODE

August 17, 2015 — Mozilla wants to make private browsing truly private. Some experimental Private Browsing enhancements ready for testing actively block website elements that could be used to record user behavior across sites. Find out more!

PENN HELPS DEVELOP ALGORITHM AIMED AT COMBATING SCIENCE'S REPRODUCIBILITY PROBLEM

August 16, 2015 — Big data sets are important tools of modern science. Mining for correlations between millions of pieces of information can reveal vital relationships or predict future outcomes. However, there is a risk of finding correlations that seem to have predictive value but actually do not because they result just from random chance. Aaron Roth, an assistant professor from the University of Pennsylvania has published a study in Science that outlines a method for successively testing hypotheses on the same data set without compromising statistical assurances that their conclusions are valid. The method increases the power of analysis done on smaller datasets, by flagging ways researchers can come to a “false discovery,” where a finding appears to be statistically significant but can’t be reproduced in new data. Read more here!

WHY USE A 2D CURSOR IN A 3D WORLD? COMPUTER CURSORS ARE GOING 3D!

August 14, 2015 — "Researchers at the University of Montreal have developed techniques that enable computer cursors to interact in 3D in single or multiuser, local or remote collaboration scenarios." The 3D cursor has applications in a wide range of fields, like sketching, architectural design, medical imaging and computer games. Find out how it works here!

CAR HACK REVEALS PERIL ON THE ROAD TO INTERNET OF THINGS

August 13, 2015 — Researchers described, at the premier Black Hat cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas, last Wednesday, how they remotely took control of a moving car and many at the gathering warned the ramifications could be far more serious and wide-reaching. For example, a connected home appliance, like a toaster, can be hacked and becomes an entry point for an attack that hops wirelessly to other online devices and it could also provide a gate to the hackers for a neighbor's home devices. Hackers could not only target individual homes but could cause trouble on city grids, perhaps by toying with electric power in entire neighborhoods. This raises some important questions about the Internet of Things and new security solutons should be provided in order to make the whole vision plausible. Read the Phys.org article on this subject here!

A NEW COMPANY CALLED ALPHABET NOW OWNS GOOGLE

August 12, 2015 — Google has reorganized itself into multiple companies, separating its core Internet business from several of its most ambitious projects while continuing to run all of these operations under a new umbrella company called Alphabet. This allows them more management scale, as they can run things independently that aren’t very related. Read the full Wired story here!

 

OBAMA ORDERS SPEEDY DELIVERY OF FIRST EXASCALE SUPERCOMPUTER

August 9, 2015 — Countries such as China and Japan aim to build their first exascale supercomputer by 2020, whereas the U.S. is currently on track to achieve is first exascale supercomputer by 2023 at the earliest. Perhaps that’s why President Barack Obama signed, on July 29, a new executive order to coordinate U.S. efforts in pushing supercomputers beyond today’s limits on semiconductor technology. Find out more!

MICROSOFT WORKS OUT HOW TO UPGRADE ONLINE ENCRYPTION TO PROTECT AGAINST QUANTUM COMPUTERS

August 6, 2015 — Governments and computing giants like IBM, Microsoft, and Google are working on quantum computers because tapping subtle effects of quantum physics should let them solve in seconds some problems that a conventional machine couldn’t solve in billions of years. That might allow breakthroughs in areas such as medicine or energy. But such machines would also be able to easily break the encryption used to secure information online. Some researchers think we should be planning to upgrade our encryption so life can continue normally in a quantum-computing era. A team from Microsoft, chip maker NXP, and Queensland University of Technology have now shown how that might be done. They are testing a quantum-computer-proof version of the transport layer security protocol, TLS, that online banking sites and others use to encrypt online data. Find out more in this MIT Technology Review article.

MICROSOFT DESCRIBES HARD-TO-MIMIC AUTHENTICATION GESTURE

August 4, 2015 — A patent filed by Microsoft is proposing a gesture-unlock method that outdistances any others, to make the gesture work only for you. No tracing out patterns on a greasy screen for Microsoft's thinkers. The technique captures biometric information such as finger position, finger length, angle between fingers, and more to provide authentication information with a simple gesture and to make sure it is actually you making the unlock request. Read more about it here!

THE 2015 TOP TEN PROGRAMMING LANGUAGES - IEEE SPECTRUM

August 2, 2015 — For the second year in a row, IEEE Spectrum has tried to offer a programming language popularity ranking. This year's winner is Java. Find out more about all the winners and about the metrics used for ranking here!

DEEP NEURAL NETS CAN NOW RECOGNIZE YOUR FACE IN THERMAL IMAGES

July 31, 2015 — "Matching an infrared image of a face to its visible light counterpart is a difficult task, but one that deep neural networks are now coming to grips with.". Find out more in this MIT Technology Review article.

HOW TO COMPUTE WITH DATA YOU CAN’T SEE - IEEE SPECTRUM

July 30, 2015 — Despite massive efforts to guard sensitive data, hackers often manage to steal it anyway. One way to deal with this problem is to encrypt the data before it’s stored. Thus, even if attackers manage to break into the cloud provider’s system and steal data, it would be meaningless. A technique that has emerged in the past years seems to achieve the impossible: it enables a cloud provider to perform many kinds of computations on data that has been encrypted. The technique relies on special mathematical properties of certain encryption schemes that allow the cloud provider to carry out useful computations and produce an encrypted result. Read the full IEEE Spectrum article presenting it here!

NEW COMPUTER PROGRAM FIRST TO RECOGNISE SKETCHES MORE ACCURATELY THAN A HUMAN

July 26, 2015 — Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) have built the first computer program that can recognize hand-drawn sketches better than humans. According to them the Sketch-a-Net program is capable of correctly identifying the subject of sketches 74.9 per cent of the time compared to humans that only managed a success rate of 73.1 per cent. Read more here!

ACM CONGRATULATES OUR GRAND PRIZE WINNER AND TOP AMBASSADORS

July 25, 2015 — Sanyam Grover, a student at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in Dehradun, India qualified for the 2014-2015 Ambassadors for ACM Grand Prize. Sanyam is founder and chair of the UPES ACM Student Chapter and is an ACM student member. ACM offered the list of top Ambassadors for the months of April, May, and June too. Read more here.

BUILDING THE INTERNET OF THINGS

July 23, 2015 — IEEE Computing Now proposes a very interesting issue on "Building the Internet of Things" for July 2015. Read the Guest Editor's Introduction here!

N.S.A. SUMMER CAMP: MORE HACKING THAN HIKING

July 22, 2015 — A new National Security Agency cybersecurity summer camp program, called GenCyber, for American high school and middle school students, offers a series of free summer camps for 1400 youth, across US, in which they are taught the entry-level art of cracking encrypted passwords. It has the goal of building the next generation’s cyberspace work force, a matter of national security. While this summer's edition includes 43 camps, there are plans to extend the project to 200 camps in 2020. The program was very well received by the teenagers who attended the camps so far. Read more about the program in this NY Times story.

RESEARCHERS PROVE HTML5 CAN BE USED TO HIDE MALWARE

July 21, 2015 — "A group of Italian researchers have come up with new obfuscation techniques that can be used to dupe malware detection systems and allow malicious actors to execute successful drive-by download attacks. The researchers' obfuscation techniques are based on some functionalities of the upcoming HTML5 standard, and can be leveraged through the various JavaScript-based HTML5 APIs." Find out more here!

WHAT TURING HIMSELF SAID ABOUT THE IMITATION GAME

July 19, 2015 — This month's issue of the IEEE Spectrum magazine proposes an interesting story about Alan Turing's position in connection with intelligent machines, as evidenced by two BBC radio broadcasts, one from May 1951 and the other one from January 1952. These were his last recorded statements on the topic, more recent than one of his most famous articles, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence", which describes the Turing test. His ideas are compared with famous facts about him and his work, including some from Andrew Hodges’s biography of Turing, which inspired the screenplay of The Imitation Game, and they don't agree in every respect.

RESEARCHERS BUILD FIRST WORKING MEMCOMPUTER PROTOTYPE

July 17, 2015 — "A combined team of researchers from the University of California and Politecnico di Torino in Italy has built, for the first time, a working memory-crunching computer (memcomputer) prototype. It is capable, the team reports in their paper published in the journal Science Advances, of solving the NP-complete version of the subset sum problem. At its most basic level, a memcomputer is a computer that solves problems by crunching numbers and storing results simultaneously, rather than as completely separate processes, as is done with all modern computing machines. In that respect, it should work much more like the human brain." Read the full Phys.org article here!

NVIDIA ATTEMPTS TO EASE THE PATH TO DEEP LEARNING

July 16, 2015 — Nvidia hopes to bring artificial intelligence to a wider range of applications with an update to its Digits software for designing neural networks. It comes with a graphical user interface, potentially making it accessible to programmers beyond the typical user-base of academics and developers who specialize in AI. Also, it has been enhanced to enable designs that run on more than one processor, enabling up to four processors to work together simultaneously to build a learning model, which can help building models up to four times as quickly compared to the previous version. This is part of Nvidia's strategy of making GPUs, originally designed for powering computer displays, to work as hardware accelerators that boost computing power for large systems, which has been observed over the past decade. Find out more!

COMPUTER CHIPS MADE OF WOOD COULD HELP CURB ELECTRONIC WASTE

July 15, 2015 — A group of researchers from University of Wisconsin made electronic components which, opposed to conventional chip manufacturing, where electronic components like transistors are made on the surface of a rigid wafer made of a semiconducting material such as silicon, used a rubber stamp to lift them from the wafer and transfer them to a new surface made of nanocellulose. This reduced the amount of semiconducting material used by a factor of up to 5,000, without sacrificing performance. This technique could help address the global problem of rapidly accumulating electronic waste, some of which contains potentially toxic materials. Read more here!

DYALOG APL PROBLEM SOLVING COMPETITION 2015

July 14, 2015 — The Dyalog APL Problem Solving Competition is a competition created around the APL programming language. The competition is open to students and non-students alike. However, only students are eligible to win the prizes, totaling $8,500 for this year's edition, and the grand prize includes, as well, a paid trip to the annual Dyalog user meeting taking place in Sicily, Italy, in September. The competition closes on July 16, 2015, so all submissions must be complete by this date. Find out more on the official website of the competition!

YOUR IOT | CONNECTED WORLD CONTEST

July 14, 2015 — "You look at the world around you and try to find ways to make it smarter and more connected. Got an idea you've been wanting to bring to life?" Your IoT Connected World Contest, sponsored by Digi-Key Electronics and Silicon Labs, offers you this possibility. Find out more on the official website!

A SOCIAL-NETWORK ILLUSION THAT MAKES THINGS APPEAR MORE POPULAR THAN THEY ARE

July 10, 2015 — Kristina Lerman, Xiaoran Yan and Xin-Zeng Wu, three researchers from University of Southern California, have discovered a paradox, which they called the "majority illusion", that make things appear more popular in the social networks than they really are. It applies to ideas, photos or other shared information and the illusion is created because they are disseminated by just a few well connected users, independent of the quality of the content itself. In this situation, the inactive users observe that at least half of their neighbors are active, concerning the given piece of content, creating the illusion of popularity. Find out more here!

ENCRYPTION MADE EASIER: JUST TALK LIKE A PARENT

July 9, 2015 — "Encrypting emails can be tedious, difficult and very confusing. And even for those who have mastered the process, it’s useless unless the intended recipient has the correct software to decode the message. A Georgia Institute of Technology researcher has created an easier method – one that sounds familiar to parents who try to outsmart their 8-year-old child. The new technique gets rid of the complicated, mathematically generated messages that are typical of encryption software. Instead, the method transforms specific emails into ones that are vague by leaving out key words." Find out more in this Georgia Tech article!

THEORY, PRACTICE, AND FIGHTING FOR TERMINAL TIME: HOW COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION HAS CHANGED

July 7, 2015 — From a small group of fifty-one people who attended a summer school on programme design for automatic digital computing machines, at Cambridge University in 1950, Computer Science education and the need for it has evolved a lot, influenced by the rapid change of technology. The biggest change is the "expectation that everyone has their own computer", the situations in which students use even more computing devices, for educational purposes, not being isolated. Another change detected by this IT World story is the replacement of the of the lower level programming languages and techniques by higher level ones, programming in assembly languages not representing the norm anymore. Find out about these and other interesting facts concerning the evolution of Computer Science education in the above-mentioned story!

COLLABORATIVELY EXPLORING VIRTUAL WORLDS

July 6, 2015 — Researchers from the Pentagon, Lockheed Martin and StandardsWork intend to create a new platform for distributed, immersive training applications, called the Virtual World Framework, that will be used for learning math and programming skills. The main idea behind the project is to provide interactive media content to the instructional designers that would like to use it for educational purposes but which would be expensive and time consuming if they wished to create it by themselves. The platform makes it easier, faster, and less expensive to develop training games and simulations that can reach users around the world and, hopefully, this will revolutionize education in the envisioned fields. Find out more from this piece of news provided by NSF!

NEW TECHNIQUES COULD HELP IDENTIFY STUDENTS AT RISK FOR DROPPING OUT OF ONLINE COURSES

July 5, 2015 — MOOCs(massive open online courses) have had acclaimed sucess in providing free and open source education accesible tomany students around the world. However, MOOCs courses suffers from a high attrition rate as many of the students are only interested in the video lecture and not the other supplementary materials that goes with the courses. Kalyan Veeramachaneni and his colleagues at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory develops a dropout-prediction model and used machine learning to predict which students will drop out of the next course offering. Read more!

AN ADVANCE MAY DOUBLE THE CAPABILITIES OF FIBER OPTICS

July 3, 2015 — A group of electrical engineers from University of California, San Diego, has published a paper in the Science journal about a method allowing them to send beams of laser light in fiber-optic glass over much longer distances than it is currently possible. Their solution supposes a "predistortion" of data so that it can be deciphered easily over long distances without the need for amplifying the signal. Read the original New York Times article on this method!

NANO SATELLITES WILL STOP THE INTERNET OF THINGS FROM EVER GOING OFFLINE

July 1, 2015 — The development of smaller and cheaper satellite technologies made many companies explore new ways of using low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. One such company is Terran Orbital which started a project aiming to use a swarm of small satellites to offer a robust connection, never going down, to be used by the devices forming the critical infrastructure. These satellites orbit the Earth at about 600 kilometers, as compared to the conventional ones positioned at roughly 36000 kilometers over the equator. Thus, they can be reached by the signal emitted by significantly lower-powered devices. Read more in this MIT Technology Review article!

NIST REVISES KEY COMPUTER SECURITY PUBLICATION ON RANDOM NUMBER GENERATION

June 29, 2015 — The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) revised the methods previously recommended for generating random numbers. A new document, called "Recommendation for Random Number Generation Using Deterministic Random Bit Generators", describes the best solutions that can be used in order to generate random numbers in a reliable way. The most important update was the removal of the “Dual Elliptic Curve random number generator.” algorithm, which has caused a lot controversies so far. Find out more about this and about the other significant changes on NIST's website or find the above-mentioned manuscript here!

RADICAL NEXT-GEN COMPUTING

June 27, 2015 — A series of interesting articles on the future of computing is offered by IEEE Computing Now. Read this special issue here!

STANFORD ENGINEERS FIND A SIMPLE YET CLEVER WAY TO BOOST CHIP SPEEDS

June 24, 2015 — For years a material called tantalum nitride was used by the chip makers in order to form a protective layer around chip wires. A new study led by Stanford researchers demonstrates that a different sheathing material, graphene, can help electrons scoot through tiny copper wires in chips more quickly, which could boost chip speeds with up to 30 percent. Find out more!

BEST ROMANIAN THESIS IN AI AWARD

June 23, 2015 — ARIA (The Romanian Association for Artificial Intelligence) announces the ARIA Thesis Award, an initiative intending to recognize the best doctoral dissertation in Artificial Intelligence. The award is intended as an annual national event meant to grant a distinction to the best achieving young AI researcher having defended his PhD during the past two years (2013 and 2014). All the researchers who have defended their thesis in a Romanian doctoral school during this time interval are, therefore, invited to participate in the competition, the deadline being on July 1st, 2015. Find out more about the competition!

UNCOVERING A DYNAMIC CORTEX

June 22, 2015 — Many efforts are done in order to reverse engineer the human brain. One of the main applications is to develop some new, brain-inspired, computing architectures that go beyond the classical von Neumann architecture and beyond its limitations. A new insight in the mechanism behind the human brain was offered by a group of MIT researchers who showed that multiple cortical regions are needed to process information. So brain’s cortex doesn’t process specific tasks in highly specialized modules, as it was previously thought. Read more here!

MACHINE VISION ALGORITHM CHOOSES THE MOST CREATIVE PAINTINGS IN HISTORY

June 19, 2015 — Picking the most creative paintings is a network problem akin to finding super spreaders of disease. That’s allowed a machine to pick out the most creative paintings in history. Read this MIT Technology Review article to find out more!

PLANARIAN REGENERATION MODEL DISCOVERED BY ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

June 17, 2015 — Tufts University biologists built an artificial intelligence system which reverse-engineered the regeneration mechanism of planaria. The research presents the first model of regeneration discovered by a non-human intelligence and the first comprehensive model of planarian regeneration, which had eluded human scientists for over 100 years. Read more!

2015 STUDENT RESEARCH COMPETITION

June 16, 2015 — The ACM Awards Banquet will be held in San Francisco, CA on June 20th, 2015.The Winners of the 2015 Student Research Competition Grand Finals have also received an invitation to this event. We congratulate them, as well as all the other candidates!

LONGSTANDING PROBLEM PUT TO REST

June 15, 2015 — Comparing the genomes is the basis of a great deal of modern biology. DNA sequences that are conserved across species are likely to be functionally important, while variations between members of the same species can indicate different susceptibilities to disease. The basic algorithm for determining how much two sequences of symbols have in common is now more than 40 years old, period of time during which computer science researchers have been trying to improve upon it, without much success. At ACM STOC 2015, MIT researchers report that, in all likelihood, that’s because the algorithm is as good as it gets, and it is somehow disappointing, since a computer running the existing algorithm would take 1,000 years to exhaustively compare two human genomes. But it also means that computer scientists can stop agonizing about whether they can do better. Read more here!

MAGIC LEAP PLANS TO OPEN ITS VIRTUAL WORLD TO DEVELOPERS

June 8, 2015 — Magic Leap a virtual reality startup in Florida recently announced a developer's kit for their virtual reality headset. This technology has promising applications in the area of wearable technology, education, data visualization and immersive gaming and interactions. Find out more!

AI SUPERCOMPUTER BUILT BY TAPPING DATA WAREHOUSES FOR THEIR IDLE COMPUTING POWER

June 6, 2015 — Recent improvements in speech and image recognition have come as companies such as Google build bigger, more powerful systems of computers to run machine-learning software. Now a company called Sentient proved it can cheaply assemble even larger computing systems to power artificial-intelligence software. The approach used is to link hundreds of thousands of idle computers over the Internet to work together as if they were a single machine. Read more here!

RESEARCHERS TO CREATE "CYBERHEART" PLATFORM FOR ADVANCED MEDICAL DEVICE DEVELOPMENT

May 31, 2015 — A virtual-heart platform meant to improve and accelerate medical-device development and testing has received a $4.2 million funding, over five years, from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project, named "CyberHeart", is led by Stony Brook and it includes collaborators from seven leading universities and centers working together to develop far more realistic cardiac and device models than currently exist. The CyberHeart platform can be used to test and validate medical devices faster and at a far lower cost than existing methods. Read more, about it, here!

ACM-ICPC WORLD FINALS 2015 IS COMPLETE

May 28, 2015 — The world finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest 2015, held in Marrakech, Morocco, are now over. We congratulate the winning team, from St. Petersburg National Research University of IT, Mechanics and Optics, as well as all the other competitors. This year's edition was the first time in the history of the contest when a team has successfully solved all the contest problems. The video recording of the event is available online, as well as the list of problems, the results, the scoreboard and some impressions from the competitors.

COMPUTING AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT

May 25, 2015 — University of Utah researchers have developed an ultracompact beamsplitter for dividing light waves into separate channels of information, a breakthrough that could lead to the next generation of computers and mobile devices that can operate at speeds millions of times faster than conventional machines. The researchers say the device is a step toward the development of silicon photonic chips that compute and shuttle data with light rather than electrons. Although light is the fastest medium that can be used to transmit information, that information must be converted to electrons before a device can manipulate it. However, that bottleneck could be eliminated if the data stream remained as light within computer processors. The Utah researchers achieved that process by creating a much smaller form of a polarization beamsplitter on top of a silicon chip that can split guided incoming light into its two components. On a future silicon chip, the beamsplitter would be just one of several passive devices used to direct light waves in different ways. By shrinking the devices down to just 2.4 square microns, researchers will be able to squeeze millions of them on a single chip. The researchers note their design would be inexpensive to produce because it uses existing fabrication techniques for creating silicon chips.

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY FINDS ITS PLACE ON CAMPUS

May 23, 2015 — Wearable technologies, ranging from smart glasses to exercise trackers and wearable drones, work their way into the university campuses. Institutions like University of California, Berkeley, New York University Stern School of Business, or Harvard Business School already offer us some examples, as this Financial Times article shows us.

SILICON CHIPS THAT SEE ARE GOING TO MAKE YOUR SMARTPHONE BRILLIANT

May 21, 2015 — Chips specially designed for deep-learning will help the phones, the cars, the cameras and the robots become smarter. Therefore, we will observe a shift from the use of this technique with giant data sets and powerful computers to the possibility to use it directly by many devices surrounding the user. Synopsis, the company that tailored a deep-learning image-processor core to be added on chips made with one of the most commonly used manufacturing technologies will make the new design available to its customers this summer. This core doesn't hit the accuracy levels of the best research results, which have been achieved on powerful computers, but it came pretty close, as Pierre Paulin from Synopsis said. Furthermore, it significantly less power than a conventional chip would need to do the same task. And Synopsis isn't the only company which foresees a bright future for this new kind of chips. Find out more here!

MEMRISTORS USED TO MAKE A NEURAL-NETWORK CHIP

May 16, 2015 — An article published in Nature by a group of researchers from University of California, Santa Barbara offers a proof of concept for building neuromorphic chips that use only memristors in order to build neuromorphic chips. A short description of the work, as well as an introduction to memristors and to their potential of considerably influencing the future of computing is offered by an MIT Technology Review article.

THE MULTIPLE LIVES OF MOORE’S LAW

May 12, 2015 — At the 50th anniversary of Moore's Law, IEEE Spectrum Magazine issued a number around this topic. In the cover story of this special issue, Chris Mack, a lithography expert, offers an overview of the history of Moore's law, its current status and a prediction for the period to come. Concerning the current status of integrated circuit manufacturing, he considers year 2015 as "the year the tide turned and the cost of transistors stopped falling and started to rise". For the years to come, the predictions are that progress will be defined by new forms of integration: gathering together disparate capabilities on a single chip to lower the system cost. While this ends the era of easily quantifiable progress, it also creates the premises of an explosion of creative applications.

ACM INTERNATIONAL COLLEGIATE PROGRAMMING CONTEST

May 8, 2015 — The world finals of the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest will be held in Marrakech, Morocco, between 16th and 21st of May 2015, being hosted by the Mohammed V, Al Akhawayn and Mundiapolis universities. Find more information about the event and the scheduled activities on the ACM-ICPC official website!

THEORY LOWERS LIMIT FOR QUANTUM COMPUTING

May 1, 2015 — A series of new calculations made by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has highlighted a lowered theoretical speed limit that future quantum computers will eventually run up against. This speed limit is placed on how quickly quantum entanglement can be established between distant qubits. Michael Foss-Feig, a physicist at NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland is the lead author of a paper that appeared in April 2015 in the Physical Review Letters journal. He and his team showed that the time required for quantum information to spread across the system increases almost in proportion to the system size, challenging, thus, a previous assumption that quantum computers could get a “qualitatively important speedup” by incorporating long-range interactions between qubits.

MIT SLOAN CYBERSECURITY CONSORTIUM

March 19, 2015 — The MIT Sloan School of Management recently launched the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity, to address a global crisis with the cybersecurity of our critical infrastructure that requires collaboration across a range of disciplines to find solutions. Using an interdisciplinary research approach, (IC) focuses on the strategic, managerial, and operational issues related to cybersecurity, and invites businesses to join the consortium. The initiative also works in collaboration with industry partners across the entire infrastructure value chain.  For more information on (IC)3, please visit: http://ic3.mit.edu.

MOBILE WEEK 

Mar 11, 2015 —  Mobile Week is a week long series of events being held in New York City from April 18 to April 24. The events focus on advancements in mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets, as well as newer emerging mobile platforms such as smart televisions and wearable devices. This program features several components including a conference, hiring mixer, and hackathon.

DEF CON SECURITY COMPETITION

Mar 11, 2015 — In Capture the Flag (CTF), two teams are assigned a flag and the objective is to get the other team’s flag. A computer security CTF event has teams attempt to keep their computer secure while conducting controlled attacks on their opponents’ machines. DEF CON, a widely known hacker convention, is hosting their annual CTF showdown in Las Vegas later this year at a date to be determined. In addition, there are several preceding events taking place throughout March and April, primarily online, which allow for practice and to prequalify for the main event CTF. 

2nd ANNUAL "DREAM IT. CODE IT. WIN IT"  COMPETITION

Feb 24, 2015 — TradingScreen Inc. and The MIT Enterprise Forum of New York are proud to announce the launch of the second annual award-winning "Dream it. Code it. Win it." contest. The student coding competition rewards and promotes creativity, diversity and literacy in the field of computer science. Students attending accredited high schools and colleges will be able to compete for cash and prizes through an online submission until midnight on March 29, 2015. The final awards ceremony will be hosted by The Cooper Union at the historic Great Hall in New York on the evening of April 30th. Visit dreamitcodeitwinit.org for more information about submitting, sponsoring or attending the event.

Teenagers develop secure, customizable web browser

Feb 18, 2015 — Kevin Shiflett and Brian Zaher, both 15 years old and self-taught developers, developed the Goto Browser, an innovative web browser for Windows that is designed to allow access to the web in a way that is easy, safe, intuitive and customizable. Goto was built with security and customization in mind. The browser was built using Awesomium HTML UI to make it secure and almost immune to viruses. Users can customize their home screen so that weather, social media feeds, and email are all placed in front of a user-chosen background. Rather than selecting the background and theme from a limited variety of options, as on other browsers, Goto allows the user to insert any image or video that they like.

Breakthrough in quantum hard drive pave way to applications in Cryptography

Jan 13, 2015 — Researchers from Australian National University and University of Otago in New Zealand has recently developed a prototype of a quantum hard drive with unprecedented storage time. Quantum information storage works on the principle of quantum entanglement, where a pair of quantum particles are inextricably linked to each other no matter how far apart they are separated. Prior to the team’s groundbreaking discovery, quantum information could not be stored for a very long time due to a phenomenon called quantum decoherence. By embedding europium inside a crystal, the lifetime of the stored information can last up to six hours. The extended storage time means that encrypted keys can be transported to further distances "literally in a box sent via the post". The security of the encryption is guaranteed since a intercepting hacker would cause the particle’s wave function to collapse, due to the strange nature of quantum measurements. The team published their results in Nature this week.

IBM Develops phase-change memory for brain computing

Jan 8, 2015 — IBM researchers have developed a new form of memory called the phase-change memory. The memory simulates the brain’s learning behavior as it encounters new training data. The connection between the chip acts as biological synapses. These large networks of connections is varied as the new data is needed into the system. By improving the natural variability of each memory unit, the IBM team made a larger network that pre-existing prototypes.The team has recently demonstrated that this new technology is capable of classifying handwritten digits up to 99% accuracy, bringing us one step closer towards neuromorphic systems.

GOOGLE ANITA BORG MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP

Jan 5, 2015 — The Anita Borg Scholarship is now calling for applications for its 2015-16 academic year scholarship program. Dr. Anita Borg was a computer scientist and a pioneer in promoting female participation in computer science. In 1987, Dr. Borg founded Systers, one of the first networking initiatives dedicated to women in computing and in 1994, Dr. Borg and her colleague, Telle Whitney, founded the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing. The Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship is a continuation of Dr. Borg’s vision and commitment to diversity in Computer Science. In addition to the scholarship, an Anita Borg scholar receives professional development and outreach opportunities. Female undergraduate and graduate students (Master and PhD) currently enrolled at a university in Europe, the Middle East or Africa and studying Computer Science or related technical subject are eligible for the scholarship program. Interested students should apply by February 2, 2015 to be considered for the scholarship. To access the online application and additional information, visit the scholarship web page here.

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