News Article | May 25, 2017
In October 2012, as Hurricane Sandy bore down on the densely populated U.S. East Coast, the state of New Jersey needed information fast. State planners and emergency managers turned to U.S. Census Bureau data about the people living and working in the affected area to identify the communities that would be hardest hit, and come up with a plan for recovery in the months that followed. A team led by Duke University, in collaboration with the Census Bureau, has developed new methods that enable people to learn as much as possible from Census data and other government workforce statistics for things like disaster management, policy-making and funding decisions, while guaranteeing that no one can trace the data back to your household or business. Census-related statistics are used to allocate more than 400 billion dollars annually for disaster relief, job training centers, roads and other services. At the same time, Americans entrust the Census Bureau and other agencies with their personal information on the understanding that their answers will be kept confidential. Duke assistant professor of computer science Ashwin Machanavajjhala and graduate student Samuel Haney described their approach on May 18 at the Association for Computing Machinery's 2017 SIGMOD/PODS Conference in Chicago. Any time you fill out a Census Bureau survey or census, your answers are combined with others to produce summary statistics about the local population in each city and rural area: how many people live and work there, what jobs they do, how they commute to work and other characteristics. These de-identified data are released in aggregated form and mined for patterns and insights that have an enormous impact on your life, from whether a business decides to relocate or expand to your area, to how many police officers and firefighters your town has and where to build new hospitals and schools. The Census Bureau uses a variety of measures to ensure that no one can reverse-engineer the data and identify individuals within them. The challenge, Machanavajjhala said, is to enable third parties to sift through the data to make discoveries about the respondents as a group, while revealing as little as possible about any individual or business in it. One approach to this balancing act, first proposed in 2006, involves a set of techniques called "differential privacy." With differential privacy, a person can share their personal information without worrying that someone analyzing the aggregated data might be able to figure out which information is hers. No one can identify your data, even if they have other information about you. Although differential privacy was introduced more than 10 years ago, it is just now beginning to be put to use more widely for collecting and sharing sensitive data. Apple has implemented differential privacy techniques in iOS 10, the latest mobile operating system for the iPhone. Google has done the same for its Chrome Web browser. "Today, differential privacy is considered a gold standard for analyzing sensitive data," Machanavajjhala said. Differential privacy techniques typically work by computing the true answer and then adding random noise to the output. The goal, Machanavajjhala said, is to ensure that adding or removing any single record or individual from the database doesn't significantly affect the outcome. But critics of differential privacy argue that achieving that goal requires introducing too much noise to glean accurate insights. That goal is based on a mathematical definition of privacy that may be overly strict for certain applications, Machanavajjhala said. "And in many cases, it may not match up with what is required by law, or what users think is meant by privacy." Instead, the researchers tried a new approach. They took the privacy protections required by law, and adapted them into a customized definition of privacy similar to differential privacy. Then they developed algorithms that injected just enough noise to satisfy that definition and uphold the law. The researchers ran an experiment where they applied their algorithms to real-world employment data underlying an online mapping tool produced by the U.S. Census Bureau, called OnTheMap for Emergency Management. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the mapping tool has provided accurate estimates of the number of affected workers by race, ethnicity, industry or other characteristics, to figure out which groups of people or types of businesses were most in need of aid. Users could also use the data set to view where businesses are located and how employees travel to work to determine the impact of the hurricane on commuters. But in their experiment, the researchers were able to prove, mathematically, that such answers wouldn't get someone any closer to inferring information about any single person or business that might violate privacy regulations -- such as whether an employee held a job at a particular workplace, or precisely what fraction of a company's workforce belonged to a certain race or had a certain level of education. Their study showed it is possible to release such data to the public for analysis and guarantee it safe against unwanted leaks, with comparable or even better accuracy of the results than current methods -- which don't make similar privacy guarantees. The algorithms aren't specific to U.S. Census Bureau data. The techniques they developed are applicable to other employment-related statistics produced by other countries or agencies as well, such the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.
News Article | May 9, 2017
Computer interaction improvements have included the expanding use of natural motions and gestures to control floating graphical user interfaces. As a result, fatigue from prolonged use of the motions and gestures has become an issue. Karthik Ramani, the Donald W. Feddersen Professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering, is part of a study to evaluate and quantify arm fatigue in a simplified framework compared to current methods. "In previous years, all the computer interaction technologies we had included something to support our limbs," Ramani said. "But with newer forms of interaction, there is no support. The question now is what the guidelines are to design new interfaces and interaction for such settings." Technology has created mid-air interaction advancements in gaming, augmented and virtual reality applications and the use of mobile technologies using hands. "Physical ergonomics is an important design factor for mid-air interaction," Ramani said. "In particular, arm fatigue – the so-called 'gorilla arm syndrome' – is known to negatively impact user experience and hamper prolonged use of mid-air interfaces." Results of the study will be presented Tuesday (May 9) at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Denver. The event is one in a series of prestigious academic conferences in the field of human–computer interaction and one of the top conferences in computer science. It is hosted by ACM SIGCHI, the special interest group on computer–human interaction. Ramani, who also has a courtesy appointment in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is joined in the research by Sujin Jang, a doctoral student in the School of Mechanical Engineering, and Satyajit Ambike, an assistant professor in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, as well as Wolfgang Stuerzlinger, a professor in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. The study looked at the issue of human-computer interaction in two ways: Determining an individual's arm strength and estimating cumulative subjective fatigue levels. Ramani said current methods to examine strength are expensive and invasive and can leave out considerations for rest. To simplify the issue, the study opted for inexpensive depth cameras, which are used in popular home video game systems to sense body motion and hand motion. According to Jang, 24 participants were asked to grasp a dumbbell (5-pound for 20 males and 3-pound for four females) and hold their arm out horizontally for as long as they could. The camera sensors measured what their hands and arms are doing. Using shoulder torque and endurance time, researchers were able to determine arm strength with an average error of 8.4 percent, slightly higher than the 6.2 percent recorded by current, higher-priced methods. That difference is negligible given the latter's accessibility and price tags of tens of thousands of dollars. "With a simple depth camera and a dumbbell, we are able to do as good measurements as the other methods," Ramani said. In determining cumulative subjective fatigue, the study once again looked to improve current methods, which usually register an error rate of 35 percent. Jang said 24 subjects were shown targets on screen and asked to touch the targets as many times as possible with good accuracy for four one-minute segments, with random rest durations of 5-20 seconds between each segment. The screens were placed at shoulder- and waist-level heights for the experiment, and depth cameras were used to examine the body's skeleton. He pointed out the researchers utilized a biomechanical model that includes the idea of a rest period into their estimate of the subject's fatigue. The status of the muscle as it transitioned from rest to activation to fatigue also was considered in estimating the subject's fatigue. In the end, Ramani said the study was able to estimate the cumulating subjective fatigue at an improved 15 percent error rate over traditional methods. According to Stuerzlinger, an expert on 3-D user interfaces, the "gorilla arm syndrome" is already an issue with vertical touchscreens, making it a problem even beyond augmented and virtual reality systems. "The results of our work enable user interface designers to predict how fatiguing a specific user interface is, even before a new design is built/realized, which enables the designers to make better decisions around new, proposed 3-D user interfaces," he said. "This, in turn, will accelerate and lead to the development of better user interface solutions for virtual and augmented reality systems." For Ambike, the study's method of measuring strength and fatigue could have far-reaching implications for the aging population. "Our inexpensive methods will potentially translate to establishing the relation between fatigue/strength and health, as well as into continuous monitoring of fatigue levels in at-risk populations," he said. "In this way, this technology promises to have a significant clinical impact." Explore further: New tool for virtual and augmented reality uses 'deep learning' More information: Modeling Cumulative Arm Fatigue in Mid-Air Interaction based on Perceived Exertion and Kinetics of Arm Motion. engineering.purdue.edu/cdesign/wp/modeling-cumulative-arm-fatigue/
News Article | May 10, 2017
Crowdsourcing has become a popular way of making use of large groups of people to accomplish straightforward tasks -- online reviews on Yelp, Wikipedia entries and Stanford University's own Folding@Home, to name a few. A significant downside is that, because these projects usually rely on an inexpert workforce, they need to be built from basic and highly specific tasks that any person can carry out. Those limitations make traditional crowdsourcing impractical for the kinds of complex tasks many organizations need to accomplish - a challenge that researchers at Stanford tried to overcome with a new, more structured approach to crowdsourcing complex tasks, called flash organizations. "Traditional crowdsourcing can't be applied to the most important goals that we, as humanity, want to pursue because these goals are open-ended and complex," said Michael Bernstein, assistant professor of computer science at Stanford. "They simply cannot be predefined and cannot be broken down into thousands of independent parts. They require adaptation, re-planning and change that's incompatible with traditional crowdsourcing." Flash organizations combine the most adaptable parts of both traditional crowdsourcing and traditional offline organizations. Like traditional crowdsourcing, the workforce in flash organizations is completely virtual and assembled on-demand from massive online labor markets. But, like a brick-and-mortar business, it is composed of experts assembled in an organizational hierarchy. "These organizations are no longer anchored in rigid, Industrial Revolution-era labor models but instead fluidly assemble and adjust, pulling from a globally networked labor force," said Melissa Valentine, assistant professor of management science at Stanford. "This is a system that empowers anyone with an internet connection to form an entire organization from a paid crowdsourcing marketplace and then lead that organization in pursuit of intricate goals." The researchers tested their flash organization model on three projects: the creation of an app that helps emergency medical technicians send information about patients while on the way to a hospital, the development of a web application for planning online workshops, and the design and manufacture of a storytelling card game. Their research, published as part of the Association for Computing Machinery CHI 2017 conference, details how the flash organizations successfully completed all three projects. The paper won a Best Paper award at the conference, a designation given to the top research presented at the meeting each year. While retaining the advantages of fast online hiring, flash organizations are more dynamic than previous forms of crowdsourcing. Traditional crowdsourcing's relatively unskilled, independent contributors require uniform workflows and goals defined concretely from the very beginning. In contrast, flash organizations are made up of a workforce of experts in a centralized organizational hierarchy, which defines a specific path to facilitate collaboration, communication and decision-making. This allows them to change their tasks and goals over time, based on the needs of the project as it proceeds. Realizing that flash organizations wouldn't have the advantage of history that in-office hierarchies have, the researchers mimicked the structure of film crews and emergency response teams. They made sure organization leaders defined workers' roles by specific expertise, like asking for a director or firefighter, as opposed to seeking anyone willing to complete simple and unskilled tasks, like someone who would review a product purchased from an online shopping portal. With these defined functions, the temporary work forces could hit the ground running based on knowledge of their roles rather than knowledge of each other. "I think flash organizations have the potential to make organizations more fluid, whereas, traditionally, the boundaries both within the team and the organization were pretty static," said Daniela Retelny, former graduate student fellow in management science and engineering and co-author of the paper. To support the flash organization model, the researchers used a web platform they've been working on called Foundry. This platform was previously designed to manage "flash teams," crowdsourced workforces comprised of experts who weren't part of an organizational hierarchy. For the flash organizations, Foundry helped with the creation of the organization, hiring, task-tracking and communication within the group. Foundry also included a special tool that allowed members to request a new role or task as needed. Other online tools available for discussing and implementing changes, such as multi-author cloud documents, are reactive but uncoordinated. Foundry's process for making changes centers around the organizational chart and is used for all reconfigurations, including altering the timelines of tasks, redefining roles and hiring new workers. The researchers said flash organizations aren't ideal for every kind of work and could still encounter problems common to online collaborations, such as language barriers and time zone differences. But the researchers hope that, by making it possible to complete complex, open-ended virtual projects, their model will empower online workers and entrepreneurs. "By allowing anyone with an idea to go to an online marketplace, recruit all sorts of different experts on-demand and bring their idea to life in a very short period of time, we're making innovation - and even potentially entrepreneurship - much more feasible," Retelny said. Many people have already requested Foundry with some suggesting that, in addition to supporting flash organizations, it could be used to supplement traditional office work and telecommuting. It isn't publicly available yet but the positive response has encouraged the researchers to continue developing this platform. Additional co-authors of this paper are Alexandra To, Negar Rahmati and Tulsee Doshi, all of Stanford University. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Accenture Technology Labs, Microsoft FUSE Labs, the Stanford Cyber Initiative, the Stanford Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, and a Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship.
News Article | May 9, 2017
WALLOPS ISLAND, VA, May 09, 2017-- Linda May has been included in Marquis Who Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.Linda May knew from the age of 6 (in 1949) that she wanted to be a mathematician. In 1957, the Space Age was ushered in with the launch of Sputnik I by the Soviet Union. In response, United States students were urged to go into math and science. As part of this effort, Ms. May was selected for a course of study called "Introduction to High-Speed Digital Computation" presented at her high school by the Association for Computing Machinery in 1960-1961. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 1965 and a Master of Arts in Mathematics in 1966 from Wake Forest University.From 1966 to 1971, Ms. May taught mathematics at Kennesaw University, where she was an early user of computers to teach calculus. In the 1970s, she advanced from assistant to associate professor of math at Salisbury University. While her husband, Lee, was a visiting professor of mathematics at Wake Forest University in 1980, she served as the academic programmer in the computer center there. At that time, before many people had degrees in computer science, there was a need for educators like Ms. May to teach computer programming. Thus, in 1981, she began teaching both math and computer science at Salisbury University, and from 1983 to 1985, she served as academic coordinator for the school's Department of Computer Services.Advanced degree programs in computer science were then beginning to appear, but enrollment would have meant being away from her husband and children. Besides, her interests had been taking her into the field of software engineering. She spent 17 years with the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Horn Point Laboratory, where she worked with physical and biological oceanographers as a senior faculty research assistant for 13 years and director of information and electronic services for four years. Next, Ms. May brought her experience and skills to NASA, where she has held various positions such as computer scientist, software engineer IV, and software engineer senior professional.Ms. May has had many amazing experiences over the course of her career, including being out to sea on research vessels in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf of Mexico while working with at Horn Point Laboratory. With NASA, she has had the opportunity to work on and be part of rocket launches in Alaska, where she experienced temperatures as low as 62 degrees below zero. Ms. May particularly enjoyed traveling to Norway and Kwajalein (Marshall Islands) to support rocket launches at those places.Ms. May, who is a recipient of NASA's Krieger Group Safety Award, is affiliated with the Mathematical Association of America, the American Mathematical Society, and American Mensa. She and her husband met in high school choir class and have been married since 1965. They have two daughters. Ms. May's various accomplishments have been featured in the 66th through 70th editions of Who's Who in America and the 30th through 33rd editions of Who's Who in the World.Information about photographs:1. From the Washington, D.C. Sunday Star, January 19612. With an oceanographic instrument in the Pacific, 19903. In Range Control Center, NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, 2008; photo credit: ShoreWoman Magazine4. With C-band radar antenna, NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, 2008; photo credit: ShoreWoman MagazineAbout Marquis Who's Who :Since 1899, when A. N. Marquis printed the First Edition of Who's Who in America , Marquis Who's Who has chronicled the lives of the most accomplished individuals and innovators from every significant field of endeavor, including politics, business, medicine, law, education, art, religion and entertainment. Today, Who's Who in America remains an essential biographical source for thousands of researchers, journalists, librarians and executive search firms around the world. Marquis now publishes many Who's Who titles, including Who's Who in America , Who's Who in the World , Who's Who in American Law , Who's Who in Medicine and Healthcare , Who's Who in Science and Engineering , and Who's Who in Asia . Marquis publications may be visited at the official Marquis Who's Who website at www.marquiswhoswho.com
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 15.00K | Year: 2016
The ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI) is a premier forum for sharing advanced academic and industrial research focused on all areas of programming language research, including the design, implementation, theory, and efficient use of languages. PLDI emphases include innovative and creative approaches to compile-time and runtime technology, novel language designs and features, and results from implementations. The conference will be held in Santa Barbara, CA on June 13-17, 2016.
PLDI seeks to increase student participation in conference and the field. The proposed funding would support the travel of 12 eligible US students to the conference. Recipients would be able to attend the main conference, workshops, and tutorials. A special effort will be made to reach out to women and under-represented minorities. These efforts are anticipated to broaden the participation in the conference and, by extension, the research field.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: STEM + Computing (STEM+C) Part | Award Amount: 148.86K | Year: 2016
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) supports student attendance at and development of the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. The Tapia Conference series highlights the technical achievements of diverse researchers in computing. It provides a unique forum to support diverse students (undergraduates and graduate students) and professionals. The conference programs include invited speakers, workshops, birds-of-a-feather sessions, panels, a student poster competition and a doctoral consortium. The programs allow leadership development activities for the students as well as young professionals. Moreover, they include significant time for networking about research collaborations and professional development. This proposal will support student scholarships for the conference and the doctoral consortium in 2016.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: SPECIAL PROJECTS - CISE | Award Amount: 98.56K | Year: 2015
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) proposes to support student attendance at and development of the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. The Tapia Conference series highlights the technical achievements of diverse researchers in computing. It provides a unique forum to support diverse students (undergraduates and graduate students) and professionals. The conference programs include invited speakers, workshops, birds-of-a-feather sessions, panels, a student poster competition and a doctoral consortium. The programs allow leadership development activities for the students as well as young professionals. Moreover, they include significant time for networking about research collaborations and professional development. This proposal will support student scholarships for the conference and the doctoral consortium in 2015.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: | Award Amount: 39.38K | Year: 2015
The grant will fund students and early-career faculty to attend the International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2016), which will take place in Austin, Texas, in May of 2016. The conference is the flagship conference in the field of Software Engineering. The grant will enable attendees to exchange of ideas, form research collaborations, and keep up with, and contribute to, advances in the field of Software Engineering. It is important to the building of a competent and advanced workforce of software and system developers. The conference is an opportunity for education, training and mentoring and international community-building in the field.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: Cyber-Human Systems (CHS) | Award Amount: 15.00K | Year: 2015
This is funding to support high school student involvement and attendance at the next three ACM SIGGRAPH conferences (2015-2017). SIGGRAPH is the premier computer graphics conference in the world, attracting over 15,000 attendees annually and filling over 100,000 feet of exhibition space. The conference film show is a renowned venue for viewing the latest advances in animation and visualization. Although many attendees come just for the exhibition and film show, the conference has long been the premier forum for publishing and presenting technical papers in computer graphics. The SIGGRAPH Pioneers (20+ years of work in the field) started a mentoring program in 2003 with the goal of adding more students to the technology pipeline by exposing them to this exciting research at a young age. While the number of student participants each year is relatively small in number, the impact has been high because the students do not merely attend the conference but rather are mentored by senior members of the community on a personal basis; each Pioneer is assigned no more than two students, and guides them to talks, courses, etc. that may not have been on the students radar.
The intellectual merit and broader impact of this activity lie in the educational opportunities afforded to the high school students by the mentoring process. The program also focuses on underrepresented groups (e.g., women, Hispanics, and African Americans) who would have no opportunity to hear about SIGGRAPH, let alone attend, without the mentoring program. The students are exposed to the latest research and hardware covering the use of computer graphics for numerous topics that benefit society ranging from engineering design to entertainment. All of the money goes to the student participants; the mentors work purely on a volunteer basis, and the submitting organization imposes no charges or indirect costs. Written student feedback has, in the past, been extremely favorable.
Agency: NSF | Branch: Standard Grant | Program: | Phase: RSCH EXPER FOR UNDERGRAD SITES | Award Amount: 99.99K | Year: 2013
The purpose of this proposal is to fund travel for undergraduate students to participate in the Experiencing HPC for Undergraduates program at the SC13, SC14 and SC15 conferences. The primary goal of this program is to lead the students into research as an undergraduate and then encourage them to attend graduate school in HPC topics in Computer and Computational Science. The program makes use of several existing parts of the SC technical program, with additional activities specific to the program. The unique content for the participants in this program will include an HPC boot camp session, talks by well known researchers in the field, a panel featuring current graduate students, and a panel on academic and industry career opportunities in the HPC field.
The key idea of this program is that the best way to get people excited about HPC is to visit and participate in a major technical conference in the field. SC is an ideal venue for such a program since it combines elements of a high quality technical meeting (papers, posters, tutorials) with a major industry trade show (commercial and research exhibits, vendor briefings, birds of a feather sessions). By providing sophomore and junior undergraduates an opportunity to see what the field is about, it is believed that we can excite them about the field in time for them to apply to graduate school or decide on which industry to enter when they complete their bachelor?s degrees.
The goal of this program is to expand the High Performance Computing workforce by encouraging talented undergraduates to consider graduate studies and careers in the field of HPC. The program will make a special effort to recruit participants from under represented groups and minority serving institutions. HPC is critical to many national goals from scientific innovation to product development. Currently there is a shortage of new students entering the field. This program is designed to try to help meet those national needs.