most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 20, number 1, spring 2010
university of washington
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 home CSE Home     Spring 2010 MSB    MSB Archive    Contact Info 
CSE makes sense   Next-gen smart grid tech   OneBusAway   Open Data Kit Chair's message News   SWARMS   A CSE reunion in Oakland   Datagrams Awards   Alumni Achievement Award   College Diamond Award Events   Accessibility capstone   Engineering Discovery Days   ACM spring barbeque   Where the jobs are   Kings screened at SIFF
msb20.1 PDF

About MSB

MSB is a twice yearly publication of UW CSE supported by the Industrial Affiliates Program.

Editor: Kay Beck-Benton
Contributors: Ed Lazowska, Hank Levy, Sandy Marvinney
Photo credits: Jon Froehlich, Carl Hartung, Bruce Hemingway, Ed Lazowska, Mary Levin

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SWARMS featured at Kirkland Arts Center

Superbird 1.0

The SWARMS project, by CSE's Bruce Hemingway and DxArts grad student Hugo Solis, was part of the "Off the Map" exhibit at the Kirkland Arts Center, February 12 — March 10, 2010.

Swarm intelligence describes a system where a group's highly coordinated collective behavior is more sophisticated than that of its individual members. Traditional examples for describing swarm systems are insect colonies, flocks, and fish schools. These elegant swarm-level behaviors are the result of a self-organized process where no leader is in charge and each individual bases its movement decisions solely on locally available information: the distance, perceived speed, and direction of movement of neighbors.


Based on that example, this project models a swarm system employing a collection of wireless processors called "superbirds," which are electronic circuits designed and developed by Hemingway. Several courses have used these superbirds for teaching computer embedded systems and also as devices for artistic projects. Their set of capabilities — such as audio synthesis, color LCD screen, and radio communication — makes them a suitable technology for exploring audiovisual interactive experiences.

In SWARMS, Hemingway and Solis map what is unseen by exposing the communication behavior of collective systems. Approximately a dozen superbirds are scattered throughout the gallery, establishing an ad-hoc mesh network. Each is programmed to create its own insect-like sounds projected through small speakers and blinking light patterns displayed on LCD screens. The superbirds wirelessly detect their neighbor's visual and sound transmissions and internally map each other's location in a virtual network throughout the gallery. All superbirds send and receive audio and visual information simultaneously, without a leader or hierarchy.


Depending on proximity, signal strength, and an element of randomness, the sound and light organically evolve over time as the configuration of the network becomes more sophisticated. Similar to organic creatures, these digital agents transit between different states of sound and visual gestural production, listening and copying other's materials, sleeping, and confronting other agents. Alone and without neighbors, one bird would remain static and silent, but as a member of a community, variation and complexity arise over time. SWARMS maps a slice of the continuously evolving natural world through audiovisual compositions that make visible internal behavior that is traditionally invisible.

Bruce Hemingway, Hugo Solis, Brian Mayton, and the students of CSE466, "Software for Embedded Systems," developed this work.

For more information about the course version of SWARMS, please see:

Swarms movie created by students:

UW CSE reunion

CSE at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy

This year's IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy marked the presentation of a paper describing a UW/UCSD collaboration on automotive security and privacy. Displaying their pride, the team sported UW CSE t-shirts. Unless otherwise noted, students and alumni are UW CSE; from left to right: Roxana Geambasu (PhD student), Tammy Denning (PhD student), David Molnar (MSR, teaching in UW CSE), Alexei Czeskis (PhD student), Franzi Roesner (PhD student), Stefan Savage (PhD alum, now UCSD CSE faculty), Steve Checkoway (BS alum, now UCSD CSE PhD student), Damon McCoy (PhD intern, now UCSD CSE postdoc), Karl Koscher (PhD student), Tadayoshi Kohno (CSE faculty and UCSD CSE PhD alum), Gabriel Maganis (BS alum, now UCD PhD student), Charlie Reis (PhD alum, now Google Seattle), Miro Enev (PhD student), Vitaly Shmatikov (BS alum, now UT Austin faculty).


UW honors Luis Ceze, James Lee
James Lee and Luis Ceze

On May 17, five junior faculty from across UW were honored for national recognition received this year. Two of CSE's finest were among the five: Luis Ceze (Microsoft New Faculty Fellow) and James Lee (Sloan Research Fellow).

Eric Arendt wins 2010 Dean's Medal in Engineering
Eric Arendt

Eric Arendt, a dual major in CSE and EE (with a minor in African Studies!), was named one of two recipients of the 2010 Dean's Medal in Engineering. Eric is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Eta Kappa Nu and has served as a TA and TA Coordinator in CSE. He has received multiple scholarships, including the James Hewitt Endowed Scholarship.

Eric spoke eloquently at CSE's annual Scholarship/Fellowship Recognition Luncheon about how this scholarship has affected his experience at UW.

A. J. Bernheim Brush wins CRA-W Borg Early Career Award
A. J. Brush

CRA-W — the Committee on the Status of Women in Computing Research — named CSE PhD alum A. J. Bernheim Brush, a researcher at Microsoft Research, as one of two recipients of the 2010 Borg Early Career Award. A. J. studies humancomputer interaction with a focus on computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW) and ubiquitous computing. She enjoys investigating how technology can help people and families with everyday challenges including coordination, awareness, and energy conservation.

Chris Ré wins 2010 ACM SIGMOD Doctoral Dissertation Award
Chris Ré

The annual ACM SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award, inaugurated in 2006, recognizes excellent research by doctoral candidates in the database field. The award honors Dr. Jim Gray, a database software pioneer and a Microsoft reseacher. Chris Ré, a 2009 CSE PhD alum, has been recognized as the winner of the 2010 award. Chris — now a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Madison — completed his dissertation under Professor Dan Suciu.

Anna Cavender wins 2010 UW Graduate School Medal
Anna Cavender

CSE's Anna Cavender, completing her PhD with Professor Richard Ladner, has been awarded the 2010 University of Washington Graduate School Medal. The Graduate School Medal is given annually “to recognize PhD candidates whose academic expertise and social awareness are integrated in a way that demonstrates an exemplary commitment to the University and its larger community.” UW CSE's Vibha Sazawal, now a professor at the University of Maryland, received the UW Graduate School Medal in 2004.

Ed Lazowska wins ACM Distinguished Service Award
E. Lazowska

CSE's Ed Lazowska has received the 2009 ACM Distinguished Service Award "for his wide-ranging service to the computing community and his long-standing advocacy for this community at the national level." Throughout his career, Lazowska has been a persistent and vocal advocate of diversity in computing at the highest levels.

Yaw Anokwa wins Pizzigati Prize
Yaw Anokwa

CSE graduate student Yaw Anokwa, a lead developer on Open Data Kit (ODK), has won the fourth annual Antonio Pizzigati Prize for Software in the Public Interest. The $10,000 Pizzigati Prize honors software developers who, in the spirit of open source computing, are fashioning exceptional applications that aid activists and nonprofits in their efforts to make the world a better place. ODK is a modular set of tools that's helping nonprofits across the world collect data, via mobile phones, on everything from deforestation to human rights violations. Anokwa will use the $10,000 Pizzigati Prize to deepen Open Data Kit's interaction with users.

Will Johnson scores in Putnam Competition!
Will Johnson

Will Johnson, a senior majoring in computer science and mathematics, has been named a Putnam Fellow for finishing among the top five students in the nation — from among 4,036 competitors — in this year's William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. Will is the first UW student to win a Putnam Fellowship since the competition was initiated in 1938. On April 12, the Washington State Senate honored Johnson for his extraordinary performance by passing Senate Resolution 8725.

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