SoC newsletter Fall 2011

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Transcript of SoC newsletter Fall 2011

  • SCHOOL OF COMPUTINGThe University of Utah

    FALL 2011

    TheUTAH TEAPOT

    In this Issue

    SoC WelcomesNew Faculty

    Alumni Profile:ERIC MUEHLE

    Video Game HelpsKids with Cancer

    School of ComputingScholarships

    Student SummerInternships

    After a rigorous recruiting season the School of Computing welcomes five new faculty members to its ranks, bringing the schools faculty numbers to 34 tenure-track faculty members. The five new faculty who join the SoC this year have expertise in databases, robotics, systems, scientific visualization and algorithms. We are excited to welcome this new group of faculty members to the School of Computing, their expertise will build upon our growing strengths in these research areas, said Al Davis, SoC Director.

    Feifei Li, Assistant ProfessorBefore joining Utah Feifei was an assistant professor at the

    Computer Science Department, Florida State University, from August 2007 to July 2011. Prior to that, he obtained his B.S. in computer engineering from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore in 2002 and PhD in computer science from Boston University in 2007. His research focuses on large-scale data management, such as query processing, indexing, and query optimization in databases. He also works on probabilistic data, text/string processing, semantic web/graph data (e.g.,

    RDF), data-processing using MapReduce, as well as security and privacy issues in data management. His research has been actively supported by NSF, HP Labs and the Florida Department of Revenue. He has won NSF career award in 2011, HP Labs Innovation Research Award in 2011, the best presenter award in IBM T.J. Watson research centers summer Intern lecture series in 2006, and the IEEE ICDE best paper award in 2004.

    Besides work, he enjoys playing badminton, hiking, traveling, and reading.

    Miriah Meyer, Assistant ProfessorMiriah is a USTAR assistant professor in the School of

    Computing at the University of Utah and a faculty member in the Scientific Computing and Imaging Institute. Her research focuses on the design of visualization systems for helping scientists make sense of heterogeneous data. She obtained her bachelors degree in astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, and earned a PhD in computer science from the University of Utah. Prior to joining the faculty at Utah Miriah was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University and a visiting scientist at

    the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.In 2011 Miriah was named to the TR35, a list compiled by MIT Technology Review

    recognizing 35 innovators under 35. She is a recipient of a 2009 and 2010 NSF/CRA

    School of Computing Welcomes 5 New Faculty

    Miriah Meyer continued on next page

  • FALL 2011

    Computing Innovation Fellow award, as well as a 2006 AAAS Mass Media Fellowship that landed her a stint as a science writer for the Chicago Tribune. Miriah is on the organizing committee for the inaugural IEEE Symposium on Biological Data Visualization.

    When shes not graphing data, Miriah enjoys cycling, baking, and trying to get through a New Yorker in a week. Her guilty pleasure is lounging around on a rainy day with her husband and their cat, Voxel.

    Jeff Phillips, Assistant ProfessorJeff Phillips has a BS in Computer Science and BA in Math from

    Rice University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Duke University where he was supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Jeff is a recipient of a 2009 and 2010 NSF/CRA Computing Innovations Postdoctoral Fellow award. His interests span the areas of algorithms, data mining, machine learning, databases, and computational statistics, specifically those areas relevant to processing and understanding uncertainty in large scientific data sets.

    Outside of work, Jeff enjoys hiking, yard work, watching sports, and arguing about things he has no control over.

    Zvonimir Rakamaric , Assistant ProfessorZvonimir Rakamaric was a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon

    University in Silicon Valley, where he was also working closely with researchers from the Robust Software Engineering Group at NASA Ames Research Center. He received his Ph.D. and M.Sc. from the Department of Computer Science at the University of British Columbia, where his supervisor was Alan Hu. Zvonimir grew up and did his undergrad in Croatia.

    The main focus of Zvonimirs research is developing practical methods, techniques, and tools for improving reliability and correctness

    of complex systems. Currently, his emphasis is on highly automatic and scalable analysis techniques for software, in particular for concurrent software. He is interested in any technique that supports those goals, such as extended static checking, automated theorem proving, model checking, and runtime verification.

    Outside of work, Zvonimir enjoys the outdoors (hiking, skiing, sailing), traveling, basketball, reading, watching movies, and spending quality time with family and friends.

    Jur van den Berg, Assistant ProfessorJur van den Berg is assistant professor with the School of Computing

    at the University of Utah. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science at Utrecht University, the Netherlands in 2007, and has been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007-2009, 2010), and at the University of California, Berkeley (2009-2010). Jurs research interests lie in algorithmic robotics, with a particular focus on robot collision avoidance, planning, and control in application domains such as aerial robotics, medical robotics, crowd simulation, virtual environments and computer games, autonomous transportation, and

    personal robotics.Besides work, Jur likes to speed-skate, and is excited about Salt Lake City having a rink at the

    Olympic Oval. He is also always in the mood to go for a beer.

    Miriah Meyer continued

  • FALL 2011

    Alumni Profile

    From unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) to unmanned combat air vehicles, Eric Muehle continues to build on the experience he received while at the University of Utah. The Teapot catches up with Eric Muehle, a Technical Fellow at the Boeing Company in Seattle.

    Utah Teapot: Why computer science?

    Eric Muehle: When I was younger I enjoyed playing strategy board games and I wanted to write a program that could play a strategy game better than me. Thats what first got me interested in learning to program. Once I got into writing code, I was hooked.

    UT: When did you graduate?

    EM: I completed my bachelors degree in 1985, and went on to complete my Masters in 1987.

    UT: What was your education like at the University?EM: I worked long hours as an undergraduate. I remember our

    undergraduate class was very competitive on everything. When I was a grad student I spent even more time at school. I learned a lot of programming languages. There was one class where we learned a different language every 2 weeks. That was a good thing, as I learned how to learn other languages.

    I had a number of great classes while at the U, but there were a few that have helped throughout my career: an artificial intelligence course taught by Tom Henderson, a LISP class taught by Bob Kessler and a computer vision course.

    UT: What memories do you have of your experience here?EM: There was a yearly rover contest where the students

    would program their planetary exploration rovers to move out across a simulated landscape, explore, and collect valuable objects and rocks. A central server provided the simulated environment and everyone would upload their program/rules into the system. The simulation would put 4 rovers on a planet surface and calculate a game score based on what was explored, collected, and brought back to the rover base. My rover had an aggressive exploration strategy that would use the built in rover laser against anything that was too heavy to pick up. The idea was to break a large object into smaller objects that could then be collected for score. When my rover would enter the same location as another rover it would eventually try to pick it up, but since it

    was too heavy, it would fire the laser at it and would destroy the other rover. This was an unpublished feature in the simulation. My rover literally destroyed all the other competition.

    UT: Since graduating has your career path been what you expected?

    EM: Not at all. I didnt really know what to expect. Along my career I worked at aerospace companies and had the opportunity to launch a couple of startup companies. Launching a successful startup is like completing a just in time MBA at the same time one is developing a product. I learned a lot during those efforts. Many software design and development principles that I was taught in school were

    solidified during this time. If you have the chance to work in a startup you should do it, especially early in your career. What you learn there will last a lifetime.

    UT: What changes in industry have impacted your job?EM: A significant change is the globalization and distributed

    worldwide development that it entails. It is very difficult to bridge cultural differences and spoken/written languages when expressing the requirements for a complex software system. When problems occur, the cleanup and resolution of the issues can be problematic and difficult to navigate through.

    UT: What are you working on at Boeing?EM: I currently am working on the Airborne Early Warning

    and Control (AEW&C) training and mission planning software in addition to the X-45 unmanned air vehicle efforts.

    UT: Tell us about your family?EM: I have been married for 28 years and we have 4 children.

    My oldest is in law school and a Utah grad, 2 others currently attending Uta