most significant bits
newsletter of uw computer science & engineering
volume 20, number 2, winter 2011
university of washington
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 home CSE Home    MSB archive Winter 2011 MSB    MSB Archive   Contact Info Contact Info 
Center for Game Science Chair's message Mobile midwives ultrasound News Josh Smith joins CSE & EE Ed Felten named to FTC Datagrams Introducing Ms. Sprocket Awards IEEE fellows CRA recognizes undergrads Events Larry Snyder's swansong Annual Industrial Affiliates Distinguished Lecturers Annual pumpkin carving Bay Area alumni event
msb20.2 PDF

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

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Josh Smith joins UW CSE and EE departments

Josh Smith
Joshua Smith

Joshua R. Smith joins the CSE and EE departments in February 2011. Previously, he worked at nearby Intel Labs Seattle, where, from 2004-2010, he collaborated with many UW students and faculty. He holds Ph.D. and S.M. degrees from MIT, an M.A. in Physics from Cambridge University, and B.A. degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy from Williams College.

Smith’s research interest is in the area of sensor systems: inventing new sensor systems, devising new ways to power them, and developing algorithms for using them. The research has application in the domains of ubiquitous computing, robotics, and human-computer interaction (HCI). He is currently working on 3 projects: novel sensors for robotic manipulation, resonant (non-radiative) wireless power transfer, and (radiative) wirelessly powered UHF-RFID-compatible sensing platforms.

Humanoid coffee break
One a recent afternoon, Smith took
his yet-to-be-named new humanoid
robot out for a spin. They stopped
at ReBoot for a shot of caffeine
and to meet one of our local baristas.

At Intel, he has led research projects in the areas of wireless power and robotics. He is the principal investigator of Intel’s WREL (Wireless Resonant Energy Link) project, which aims to transfer tens of watts wirelessly. He also leads a project called WISP (Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform). WISP is a battery-free platform for sensing and computation. It consists of a fully-programmable, 16-bit microcontroller that is powered wirelessly by radio waves: it harvests all the energy it needs from a standards-compliant UHF RFID reader. It also receives data from and sends data to the RFID reader.

CSE Alum Ed Felten Named Chief Technologist at FTC

Ed Felten
Ed Felten

CSE alum Ed Felten (PhD, '93) is one of the nation's foremost experts on the high-profile, high-stakes technology issues of computer security and privacy. A professor of computer science and public affairs at Princeton, he is founding director of the university's Center for Information Technology Policy (CITP), which explores the interfaces of technology, government policy, and the social sciences. In the policy arena, Felten has focused on intellectual property, the impacts of technology regulation, Internet software, and consumer issues.

His own rising profile now includes appointment as the Federal Trade Commission's first Chief Technology Officer, a one-year assignment beginning in January. He will advise the agency on cybersecurity and online privacy, consumer protection, and antitrust matters, including tech-industry mergers and anticompetitive behavior. Felten has testified before the House and Senate on technology matters and is founder and lead contributor to the influential technology blog Freedom to Tinker.

"Ed is extraordinarily respected in the technology community, and his background and knowledge make him an outstanding choice to serve as the agency's first chief technologist ... we are thrilled to have him on board," said FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz.

Felten looks forward to putting his expertise into practice in government. "This is a chance for me to apply what I've been studying and see the policy-making process from the inside," he said.

The UW College of Engineering honored Felten with the 2007 Diamond Award for Early Career Achievement — clearly a prescient selection.


Greg Barnes scores in foodie treasure hunt
Greg Barnes

To celebrate its 60th birthday, Canlis Restaurant sponsored a local treasure hunt: find a 1950's menu, pay 1950 prices. Always up for good treasure hunt, CSE Ph.D. alum Greg Barnes was not daunted when he read the December 2nd clue: "Have no fear, Church is here. But how did she get from here to there?" With help from his spouse, CSE Ph.D. alum Elizabeth Walkup, they found a reference to a plane on display at the Museum of Flight. He recognized the plane and recalled reading about it at one of CSE's pit parties in the late '80s. From that, he found the menu. This proves it: It pays to attend CSE's parties!

Ed Lazowska named to Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Advisory Committee
Ed Lazowska

CSE's Ed Lazowska has been named to the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advisory Committee. The 19 member committee will meet twice a year and report directly to Energy Secretary Steven Chu. They will advise him on long-range strategies, program funding, and other issues in the EERE.

Li Zhang receives Packard Award
Li Zhang

CSE Ph.D. alum Li Zhang, now faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was the only computer scientist to win a 2010 Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Zhang — who recently won both an NSF CAREER Award and a Sloan Research Fellowship — studied with Steve Seitz in UW’s superb Graphics and Imaging Laboratory. Zhang’s research supported by the award will seek to restore stereo 3D vision for blind people by developing new computational imaging and vision techniques that work with artificial retinas.

Zoran Popivić named "Most Influential" by Seattle Magazine
Zoran Popivić

Seattle magazine names CSE's Zoran Popivić and his UW Biochemistry collaborator David Baker among its 2010 "Most Influential" for their collaboration on the protein folding game Foldit. Zoran joins Oren Etzioni (2008, Technology "Mr. Predictability"), Yoky Matsuoka (2008, Science "Bionic Woman"), and Ed Lazowska (2004, Technology "Hello Mr. Chips") in being recognized by Seattle magazine.

Shwetak Patel recognized as "Top Innovator"; "Newsmaker of the Year"
Shwetak Patel

Seattle Business named CSE's Shwetak Patel a 2010 "Top Innovator" and placed him on the front cover. The magazine recognized him for "turning the unique 'music' of appliances into energy savings." And in December 2010, Patel was voted TechFlash's "Newsmaker of the Year," edging out other familiar Seattle names such Allen, Ballmer, Bezos, Huh, and Sack. Patel was recognized as "a 28-year-old assistant professor in the UW Department of Computer Science & Engineering [who] sells home energy monitoring startup Zensi to Belkin and separately develops a novel method of using electrical wiring as a wireless antenna system, spawning another startup."

"VizWiz" receives Best Paper Award at UIST 2010

UW CSE Ph.D. alum Jeff Bigham (now faculty at Rochester), CSE grad student Chandrika Jayant, and their coauthors received the best paper award at this year’s ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) for their paper VizWiz: Nearly Real-Time Answers to Visual Questions. VizWiz is an iPhone application aimed at enabling blind people to recruit remote sighted workers to help them with visual problems in nearly real-time.

dub wins best paper at Ubicomp 2010
design, use, build - logo

Two papers by the dub group received a best paper award and a best paper honorable mention award. ElectriSense: Single-Point Sensing Using EMI for Electrical Event Detection and Classification in the Home, authored by Sidhant Gupta, Matt Reynolds, Shwetak Patel, received the best paper award. SNUPI: Sensor Nodes Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure, authored by Gabe Cohn, Erich Stuntebeck, Jagdish Pandey, Gregory D. Abowd, Brian Otis, Shwetak Patel, received a best paper honorable mention. Congratulations to the dub team!

Yoky Matsuoka is UW Medicine’s "2010 Emerging Inventor of the Year"
Yoky Matsuoka

CSE's Yoky Matsuoka has been recognized by UW Medicine as the 2010 Emerging Inventor of the Year. Matsuoka is developing an anatomically correct robotic hand to investigate the neural control of human hand movements. The goal of this work is a prosthetic hand capable of executing detailed hand movements autonomously or with natural neural signals.

Scott Saponas named to Technology Review's 2010 TR-35
Scott Saponas

CSE Ph.D. alum Scott Saponas is the latest alum cited in the Technology Review TR-35 list of the 35 most promising innovators under the age of 35. While a CSE grad student, Saponas developed software to process the jumble of signals from the muscle mass in the arm. A jogger using the armband system could tense hand muscles to switch tracks on an MP3 player without breaking stride, or a mechanic repairing an engine could use it to control a heads-up display. Now at Microsoft Research, Saponas continues to improve his system by combining the muscle interface with other sensors, including accelerometers and gyroscopes, to provide additional precision. Saponas joins the other CSE alums that have received this honor: Tapan Parikh (now at UC Berkeley), Karen Liu (now at Georgia Tech), Jeffrey Bigham (now at Rochester), and Adrien Treuille (now at CMU).

Doug Downey selected 2010 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellow
David Downey

Each year, Microsoft Research recognizes outstanding new faculty members who represent a selection of the best and the brightest in their fields. Doug Downey, a CSE Ph.D. alum advised by Oren Etzioni and now on the faculty at Northwestern University, received this significant distinction. Downey studies methods for automatically extracting knowledge from the web. His work aims to enable advanced web search engines, capable of answering complex questions by synthesizing information across multiple web pages. Building on techniques from natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence, Downey is currently investigating how to harness human interaction to improve knowledge extraction systems.

Anne Condon appointed Head of UBC Department of Computer Science
Anne Condon

Professor Anne Condon, a CSE Ph.D. alum, has been appointed Head of the University of British Columbia Department of Computer Science. Condon is internationally recognized for her research in complexity theory and bioinformatics, and a leading Canadian proponent for women in science and technology. Her four-year term begins on July 1, 2011.

Introducing Ms. Sprocket

CSE’s Bruce Hemingway debuted his 'Art Critic Robot' project — appropriately named Ms. Regina Sprocket — on October 8th at the Kirkland Arts Center event "REDUX 2010."

The MOmA — Seattle Museum of miniature Art — is an adaptable and modular space for artists to think big on a small scale. Designed and built by architect Ariel Kemp, the model is new contemporary exhibition space, and artists are invited to create their own wings to the museum, including the art work that fills each wing. MOmA is also home to Regina Sprocket, its resident critic. Ms. Sprocket is designed to move through the gallery space, find art on the walls, and transmit her critical comments, which are projected via a webcam in the four of the attached wings showing scale views of the galleries. The verbiage all came from local art critics and published reviews. Her critical, and sometimes nonsensical, comments include:

It's difficult to enter into this work because of how the iconicity of the facture endangers the devious simplicity of a participation in the critical dialogue of the 90s.

Although I am not a painter, I think that the optical suggestions of the spatial relationships visually and conceptually activates the inherent overspecificity.

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