Friday, December 02, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. George Bebis

Mobile Vision

Brendan Morris

Automobiles are quickly become more complex as new sensors and support systems are being added to improve safety and comfort. The next generation of intelligent driver assistance systems will need to utilize this wide array of sensors to fully understand the driving context and situation. Effective interaction requires these systems to examine the intentions, desires, and needs of the driver, requiring deep analysis of not just the surrounding environment but the driver as well, for preemptive actions which can help prepare for or avoid dangerous situations. This talk describes a real-time on-road prediction system able to detect a driver's intention to change lanes seconds before it occurs. In-depth analysis highlights the challenges when moving intent prediction from the laboratory to the road and provides detailed characterization of on-road performance.


Brendan Morris is an assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at UNLV. He obtained his B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley in 2002 and his Ph.D.. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from UCSD in 2010. His research interests are in the areas of computer vision, pattern recognition, and machine learning. He is particularly interested in real-time acquisition, processing, and intelligence for transportation and driver assistance systems as well as unsupervised trajectory learning techniques for visual monitoring.

Friday, November 18, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. Kostas Bekris

Pathfinding and Computer Games

Nathan Sturtevant
University of Denver

Pathfinding is a key component in many video games, and is a popular topic for ongoing research. This talk will begin with the traditional definition of optimal pathfinding and then progressively show how the actual pathfinding tasks faced in games are much more complex; high-quality pathfinding requires much more than quickly finding shortest paths. This will build to current research challenges in the field, and topics of ongoing research. Examples and anecdotes will be given primarily from BioWare's series of Dragon Age games which were implemented out of a research done at the University of Alberta.


Nathan is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at the University of Denver in Denver, CO where he teaches and performs research in artificial intelligence and games with a specific interest in applications for the games industry. He designed and implemented the pathfinding system in BioWare's Dragon Age series, and has done other work on planning for more traditional games and more general planning tasks. He is also known for writing Dome Wars, a classic 90s tank game for the Mac.

Friday, November 04, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. Mehmet Gunes

Digital Forensics

Todd G. Shipley
Vere Software

What trail do you leave on your digital devices that could reveal your personal behavior? This block will describe the techniques used by digital forensic examiners to identify a user's actions on his computer, cell phone or other digital devices.


Mr. Shipley is a retired City of Reno Police Detective Sergeant, where he served for 25 years. There he started and managed Nevada's first cybercrime unit. Upon retirement he was selected as the Director of Systems Security and High Tech Crime Prevention Training for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. He oversaw a national program that provided expert technical assistance and training to local, state, and federal justice agencies on successfully conducting high-technology computer crimes investigations. In this position he was also the manager of the National Criminal Justice Computer Laboratory and Training Center.

Mr. Shipley left SEARCH to form Vere Software, a company dedicated to developing tools to aid in the investigation of online crime. He was the primary designer of the patent pending software "WebCase" that aids investigators document their online investigation. He has also developed free to the investigative community the Internet Investigators Toolkit (IITK) and the Internet Investigators Toolbar. He also developed and teaches Vere Software's WebCase Basic Internet Investigations and Online Evidence Collection course nationally.

Mr. Shipley is a Certified Fraud Examiner through the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner (ACFE) and a Certified Forensics Computer Examiner through the International Association of Computer Investigative Specialists (IACIS). He has also been on the International Executive Committee of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) for the past three years. In 2010 he served as the HTCIA International President and is currently the At-Large Chapter President.

Thursday October 27, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Host: Dr. Kostas Bekris

Search and Path Finding: From Single Agent to Multi-Agent

Ariel Felner
Ben-Gurion University, Be'er-Sheva, Israel

Problems that are solved with heuristic search can be divided into two classes - exponential problems, and polynomial problems. In the past decade there has been a large progress in solving these different classes, and in particular for the design of admissible heuristics. In the first part of the talk I will summarize the theory and practice usage of pattern databases (PDBs) for exponential domains and of true-distance heuristics (TDHs) for polynomial domains. Recently, there has been a great interest in solving multi-agent path finding problems where a path should be found simultaneously for a number of agents such that paths do not collide with each other. In the second part of the talk I will show how this problem is a continuum of the two classes above and cover the latest techniques for optimally solving this problem by comparing the traditional A* approach with the new incremental cost tree search (ICTS) algorithm.


Ariel Felner is a faculty member in the Information Systems Engineering Department in Ben-Gurion University, Be'er-Sheva, Israel. He received his B.Sc and M.Sc degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel in 1993 and 1995, respectively. He received his Ph.D. from Bar-Ilan University, Israel in 2002. He participated in many projects in the field of heuristic search. He serves in the board of the Symposium on Combinatorial Search (SoCS) and was one of the organizers SoCS-2010.

Friday, October 14, 2011 at 6:00 PM

Host: Dr. Kostas Bekris

Can Computer Animation research help surgeons train better?

Petros Faloutsos
York University

In the first part of the talk I will give a brief overview of my work in computer graphics focusing on human modeling and simulation. In particular, I will describe some of our projects related to motion editing and motor control, practical applications of physics-based animation, facial animation, sketch-based interfaces, and crowd simulation, behavior authoring and coordinated planning. Time permitting I will also describe our work on designing micro-processor architectures to accelerate physics-based simulation for interactive applications, such as computer games.

In the second part of the talk, I will discuss how we transfer our experience in motion analysis and control from the graphics domain into the medical domain, in an effort to help surgeons with their training and certification process. In particular, I will describe two major projects that started at UCLA, that aim to improve surgical training. First, I will discuss the UCLA LapaRobot, a portable and low-cost tele-surgery robotic platform that allows both remote mentoring and remote execution of laparoscopic procedures, with tactile feedback. Second, I will describe AutoAssess, our prototype vision-based framework that can automatically evaluate the performance of a surgeon on FLS-type tasks.


Petros Faloutsos is an assistant professor at the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at York University. Before joining York, he was a faculty member at the Computer Science Department at the University of California at Los Angeles, where in 2002 he founded the first computer graphics lab at UCLA, called M.A.Gix. He served as the lab's director until 2011.

Faloutsos received his Ph.D. degree (2002) and his MSc degree in Computer Science from the University of Toronto, Canada and his BEng degree in Electrical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens, Greece. Faloutsos research interest focus on digital media, computer graphics, virtual humans, hardware accelerators for graphics, health informatics and surgical robotics. Professor Faloutsos is also interested in computer networks and he has co-authored a highly cited paper on the topology of the Internet, that received an ACM SIGCOMM Test of Time Award in 2010.

Faloutsos is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of The Visual Computer and has served as a Program Co-Chair for the ACM SIGGRAPH/Eurographics Symposium on Computer Animation 2005, and for the Motion In Games Conference 2011. He is a member of the ACM and the Technical Chamber of Greece.

Friday, April 29, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Host: Dr. Eelke Folmer

Exertion Games

Florian (Floyd) Mueller
Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, USA

Can you jog with a friend who lives in London?

Is it possible to play a fair game of table tennis with 3 people?

How can you box with people on the other side of the world?

Florian "Floyd" Mueller has explored "Sports over a Distance" as part of his research on "Exertion Games", these are games that require physical effort from their players, marrying human-computer interaction, computer games and networking advances. The results are 3 unique exertion games that support novel sports experiences for distributed participants.

In this talk, Floyd will present the design and the evaluation of these games that led to a new understanding of how to design interactive technology for an active human body.


Originally from Germany, Florian "Floyd" Mueller is a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Stanford University, coming from the University of Melbourne, Australia. Prior to that, Floyd was a principal scientist at the Commonwealth and Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia, leading a research team of 12 staff on the future of "Connecting People", working with Australia's General Motors plant and one of the biggest hospitals in the country. Floyd's research past also includes Media Lab Europe (Ireland), Distance Lab (UK), MIT Media Lab (USA), FXPalo Alto Laboratories (USA) and Xerox Parc (USA). Floyd is also a Microsoft Research Asia Fellow and has worked at the Microsoft Beijing lab with the research teams developing Xbox's Kinect.

Floyd's work has resulted in over 60 publications, and was presented at the top conferences in the field of interaction design and computer games, including several best paper nominations. Some of the publications became the most cited papers in the field according to Google Scholar. Floyd's Exertion Games work has been short-listed for the European Innovation Games Award (next to Nintendo's WiiFit), received honorary mentions from the Nokia Ubimedia Award, was commissioned by Wired's Nextfest, exhibited worldwide and attracted substantial international research funding. The exertion games were played by over 20,000 players across 3 continents and were featured on the BBC, ABC, Discovery Science Channel and Wired magazine.

Friday, April 22, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. Sergiu Dascalu

Architecting the Nevada Climate Change Portal

Michael McMahon
University of Nevada, Reno

The Nevada Climate Change Project seeks to create a reusable infrastructure for Nevada that researchers can utilize to collect and distribute climate measurements and general geospatial data. Addressing the interests of researchers, educators, policy makers, students, and the general public is no easy task - the project relies on the "cyberinfrastructure" component to implement the long-term systems and technologies required to centralize and disseminate data and information. Key to achieving this goal is the project web portal, which hosts not only data collected from the environmental monitoring transects established as a part of the project, but also general climate information targeted at various groups (i.e. policy makers, students, educators, etc.) and region-specific project materials (e.g. games and visualizations).

In this talk, I present some of the research and technological challenges involved in creating the systems and technologies required to support the goals of the project. I will specifically address the overall system architecture developed and some of the features supported by the project portal, both at the current stage of development (via a live demonstration) and in the near future.


Michael "Mike" McMahon received his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science in 2004 and his Master of Science degree in 2007 - both from the University of Nevada, Reno. Michael's first professional position was at GameTech International, Inc. where he supported and developed new features for the internal website that supported company operations. He also performed database and software development, support, troubleshooting, and system administration activities, gravitating toward software architecture.

In 2009, Mike returned to the University of Nevada, Reno as an administrative faculty member in the Department of Computer Science & Engineering. As a member of the cyberinfrastructure component of the NSF EPSCoR Nevada Climate Change Project, Mike is architecting and implementing the computing, data collection, and data retrieval systems involved in collecting climate measurements and making them available to researchers and the public. The implementation of the architecture he developed brings together many aspects of computing, including web development, database development and optimization, networking, system administration, and collaboration at local, state, and national levels. Mike holds many certifications in both specific and broader Microsoft technologies, including SQL Server 2008 and Visual Studio/.NET software development.

Friday, April 15, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. Yaakov Varol

Analysis of the Stuxnet Worm Attack Vectors

Jonathan Ward

The Stuxnet worm is both interesting and terrifying. The authors of the worm took great care to ensure only specifically targeted industrial operations were affected. Had this not been the case the results could have been devastating to worldwide infrastructure. An analysis of some of the attack vectors utilized by the worm will be discussed. Included will be an overview of any Microsoft Windows concepts critical to understanding the attack vectors as well as the Windows OS fixes against each attack vector.


Jonathan Ward graduated from the University of Nevada with a Computer Science Bachelor's Degree in 2002. Jonathan's first professional position was at International Game Technology (IGT) where he developed slot machine software for Windows XP Embedded and Windows CE. His experience at IGT involved 2D and 3D graphics, cryptography, PCI BIOS extension development and authoring multiple versions of Windows XP Embedded. Jonathan participated in the engineering of 5 gaming platforms during his 6 years at IGT.

In 2008 Jonathan began working at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington as a Software Design Engineer. Jonathan currently works in the Windows Serviceability group. He has created over 40 hotfix patches for various storage components in Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Monday, April 11, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. Mehmet Gunes

Inferring Private Information Using Social Network Data

Murat Kantarcioglu
University of Texas at Dallas

On-line social networks, such as Facebook, are increasingly utilized by many users. These networks allow people to publish details about themselves and connect to their friends. Some of the information revealed inside these networks is private and it is possible that corporations could use learning algorithms on the released data to predict undisclosed private information.

In this talk, we discuss how to launch inference attacks using released social networking data to predict undisclosed private information about individuals. We then explore the effectiveness of possible sanitization techniques that can be used to combat such inference attacks under different scenarios. In addition, we discuss fine grained access control mechanisms that leverage semantic web technologies for protecting sensitive social network data.


Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department
and Director of the UTD Data Security and Privacy Lab at the University of Texas at Dallas.

His research focuses on creating technologies that can efficiently extract useful information from
any data without sacrificing privacy or security. Recently his work entails security and privacy issues raised by data mining, privacy issues in social networks, security issues in databases, privacy issues in health care, risk and incentive issues in assured information sharing, use of data mining for fraud detection and homeland security. His social network privacy work has been covered by the Boston Globe, ABC News and other media outlets.

His research has been supported by grants from NSF, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, ONR, NSA, and NIH. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering from Middle East Technical University, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Science from Purdue University. He is also a recipient of NSF Career award.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Michael McMahon

Cloud Computing and Working at Microsoft

Kenny Spade

Cloud Computing

With the increasing number of low powered mobile devices like cell phones and netbooks, much of the processing power needed to run applications is being moved to the cloud. In this session, you will see an overview of the major cloud platforms for taking your own ideas into the cloud, including a history of computing paradigms, and see an example of taking an application to the cloud using Windows Azure. You will also have the ability to begin working on your own projects in the cloud with a free trial of Windows Azure so you can get firsthand experience.

Working at Microsoft

Kenny Spade has worked in the tech industry for nearly ten years, including six years as a software developer, and is currently Microsoft's Academic Developer Evangelist for Northern California. In this session, he will be discussing the advantages of working in technology, the differences in working for a small company compared to a large corporation, interviewing and resume best practices, and some of his favorite things about his job. Questions are welcome on any aspect of working in technology


As Microsoft's Academic Developer Evangelist for Northern California, Kenny Spade works to get students interested in technology through campus events and student engagement. He has one of the few jobs where hosting Halo tournaments on campus is part of a regular planning meeting with his team. He is also a Windows Phone Champ, a role which has kept him busy playing with phones and writing games to show how easy development can be. His hobbies include digital photography, free diving, game development, and writing applications to solve simple problems in complex ways.

Friday, March 04, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. Kostas Bekris

Ensemble Control as a Tool for Robot Motion Planning: Uncertainty, Optimality, and Complexity

Timothy Bretl
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)

In this talk I will provide a brief introduction to ensemble control theory and consider its application to robot motion planning. I will focus on two case studies.

First, I will solve the minimum-time optimal control problem for a group of robots that can move at different speeds but that must all move in the same direction. I am motivated to solve this problem because constraints of this sort are common in micro-scale and nano-scale robotic systems. By application of the minimum principle, I will obtain necessary conditions for optimality and use them to guess a candidate control policy. By showing that the corresponding value function is a viscosity solution to the Hamilton-Jacobi-Bellman equation, I will verify that this guess is optimal. I will extend this result to consider obstacle avoidance by explicit parametrization of all possible optimal control policies.

Second, I will solve the motion planning problem for a nonholonomic unicycle despite uncertainty that scales both the forward speed and the turning rate by an unknown but bounded constant. I will model the unicycle as an ensemble control system, show that the position of this ensemble is controllable, and derive a motion planning algorithm to steer this position between a given start and goal while avoiding obstacles. I will apply this result to a differential-drive robot with unknown but bounded wheel radius, and validate the approach with hardware experiments.

In both cases, the optimal control and motion planning algorithms I will describe have trivial computational complexity, even as the number of robots grows to a continuum of uncountably infinite size. This result should prompt us to reconsider what is "easy" or "hard" about control of large multi-robot systems in which every robot receives, at least in part, the same control input.


Timothy Bretl received his B.S. in Engineering and B.A. in Mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1999, and his M.S. in 2000 and Ph.D.. in 2005 both in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. Subsequently, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Computer Science, also at Stanford University. Since 2006, he has been with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is an Assistant Professor of Aerospace Engineering, with Affiliate appointments in the Coordinated Science Laboratory and the Neuroscience Program. His current research interests are at the intersection of robotics and neuroscience.

Friday, January 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

Host: Dr. Kostas Bekris

Underwater Robotics: Applications Driven by Science

Christopher Clark
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Over the past 40 years underwater robots have been used to explore and observe the earth's underwater environments that are either too dangerous, difficult, or expensive for humans. These robots are often classified as Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs), or gliders. ROVs are controlled by human operators by sending (joystick) control signals through a tether to robot below surface. AUVs are able to navigate autonomously through open water, tracking pre-programmed paths through open water. Gliders have similar navigation capabilities, but use buoyancy propulsion systems that limit maneuverability while extending mission lengths.

This talk will cover Cal Poly's recent research thrust in the use of such underwater robots for applications in Oceanography, Marine Biology, Arctic Science, and Archeology. In the last few years, the speaker has deployed robots in Canada, Norway, the Arctic, Malta, and the California coastal area. These expeditions, while driven by the needs of social and natural scientists, are made successful through the use of recent developments in computing technology. Examples to be presented include, AUV planning for reducing errors in a regional ocean modeling system, Bayesian filtering for ice detection in AUV under ice navigation, construction of 4 dimensional Dissolved Oxygen maps with AUV sampling, estimation of shark behavioral modes for tracking, and underwater mapping of ancient tunnels with mapping algorithms.

Results from these experiences will be presented, highlighting successes, failures, and future directions.


Dr. Christopher Clark received his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Toronto, while investigating the use of Artificial Neural Networks in robotic manipulator control systems. After working as a Control Systems Designer at Sterner Automation, he studied towards his Ph.D.. in Aeronautics & Astronautics and Computer Science at Stanford University, developing new strategies for multi-robot motion planning before graduating in 2004. During this time he also consulted for startup company Kiva Systems, developing an innovative solution to warehouse distribution based on multi-robot systems.

He was an Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON, Canada, from 2004 to 2007, before joining the Department of Computer Science at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.

At Cal Poly he directs the Laboratory for Autonomous and Intelligent Robotics (LAIR), where his areas of research include motion planning, multi-robot systems, intelligent transportation systems, modular and reconfigurable robots, and underwater robot systems. His work has resulted in over 50 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications, as well as several teaching and research awards including the California Faculty Association's Distinguished Educator Award.

Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Host: Dr. Murat Yuksel

Complex Networks

Dr. Robert Bonneau
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

The talk will overview Complex Networks Program goals that address issues in quantifying and managing the performance of heterogeneous dynamic networks. Information topological methods along with the models and dynamics will be presented. The talk also covers estimation and inference theory in networks to reduce point to point overhead of protocols by only retransmitting information that cannot be estimated from geometric information properties. The theory and design of network protocols, policy, and management is outlined along with examples and Air Force networking challenges.


Dr. Bonneau is a Program Manager of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and has established programs in Networking and Communications in the Mathematics, Information, and Biological Sciences Division. Previously, Dr. Bonneau was a Senior Research Scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory, Information Directorate in networking, communications, sensing, and computing, and a Program Manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in communications. He has held academic positions in communications and sensing at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Columbia University. Dr Bonneau has a Ph.D.. in electrical engineering from Columbia University, and a Masters and Bachelors in electrical engineering from Cornell University. Dr. Bonneau is a Senior Member of IEEE and has over 75 journal and conference papers, 1 book co-authorship, contributed to 2 book chapters, and holds 3 patents