News Briefs: Spring 2015
Check out some of the coolest happenings at CSL this spring:
White Smell Research:
Imagine a machine that could analyze all of the smells in a room and produce the perfect combination to cancel the room’s odors, leaving it smelling completely neutral. CSL and ECE Assistant Professor Lav R. Varshney and his brother, IBM researcher Kush Varshney, have come a step closer to this scenario with an algorithm for creating what they call “olfactory white,” or white smell: the equivalent of white noise for your nose.
“Every smell a human encounters is composed of a number of chemical compounds,” Lav Varshney explained. “Each of those compounds can be matched with other compounds that cancel out its smell.”
By analyzing how much of each chemical compound is in the smell, the Varshneys’ algorithm can compute the compounds needed to create a counter-smell that would combine with the prevailing one to form olfactory white. The scent itself is described by researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel as “neither pleasant nor unpleasant.”
Apart from canceling odors in a room, the Varshneys’ algorithm could also make foods more palatable in a practice called food steganography: disguising certain smells to accentuate others.
CSL Social Hour:
CSL began hosting Social Hours in January 2014, as an informal way to connect students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty and others throughout CSL. Each Friday throughout the semester, groups have been gathering over refreshments to hear from fellow students and researchers about their research and its broader impact, as well as
mingle and network. The short talks vary each week, and topics come from each of the eight research groups across CSL.
TCIPG MinecraftEdu World:
Jana Sebestik of the Office for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (MSTE) has been working with the MSTE student staff to develop a Minecraft world that asks players to work together to create a system that generates and supplies electricity to their world. Minecraft, a computer game that allows users to create and build structures out of cubes in a 3D world by breaking and placing blocks, has captivated millions of people worldwide since it was released in 2009 and now allows for user-generated modifications and new worlds that are available for users to download.
The MSTE group, working with TCIPG, created a world with several interactive lessons that teaches users about different types of electricity generation. Their Minecraft game includes a miniature power grid with renewable and non renewable energy sources such as a wind farm, a solar PV array, coal and nuclear power plants, as well as substations and other buildings. The world is divided into four main sections: power generation, lessons that teach basics about electricity generation, a building area and the passive house. The TCIPG Minecraft world focuses more on building and learning about electricity and less on survival than typical Minecraft worlds.
CSL Student Conference:
The 10th annual CSL Student Conference was held Feb. 26 - 27, 2015 and featured talks in the areas of robotics and control, privacy and security, machine learning, big data and smart cities.
The conference, which is organized by CSL’s graduate students, is a way for Illinois and outside students to present their work to faculty, invited speakers and fellow students. The two-day event included presentations, poster sessions, talks by invited speakers from Stanford, University of Chicago, Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University, a panel discussion and reception.
New Faculty - Marco Caccamo:
University of Illinois Computer Science Professor Marco Caccamo recently joined CSL in the reliable and high performance computing area. His research interests include real-time systems, cyberphysical systems, real-time scheduling and resource management in next generation embedded infrastructures.
Caccamo graduated from University of Pisa in July 1997 with a degree in computer engineering. He received his Ph.D. in computer engineering from Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in January 2002. He has authored/coauthored more than 80 refereed publications in real-time and embedded networked computing systems. Additionally, he is a
guest editor of the Journal of Real-Time Systems, was program chair of RTAS and later served as general chair of RTAS and Cyber Physical Systems Week (CPSWeek) 2011. He is one of the PIs at the Real Time System Laboratory at Illinois, was awarded an NSF CAREER Award in 2003 and is a senior member of IEEE.
The Advanced Digital Sciences Center, an Illinois research center in Singapore, recently received two new grants, with one from Singapore’s National Research Foundation and one from the Ministry of Defense. The projects are both collaborations with fellow Singapore research, academic and industry institutions, which is a goal of ADSC researchers.
ADSC will be working in collaboration with the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) on a project that focuses on safeguarding urban transportation systems against cybersecurity attacks. Additionally, the Ministry of Defense is funding a project on Ka-band signal attenuation estimates from cloud analysis using ground-based cameras. The project is led by Yee Hui Lee at Nanyang Technological University, Stefan Winkler of ADSC and Yusong Meng of A*STAR’s National Metrology Center.