News Archive 2008

  • Airborne Robots to be Used in Predicting Weather Patterns As winter sets in with a vengeance in New England, the weather is once again foremost in people’s minds. Damage prevention and safe, efficient travel are among the many reasons why more accurate weather prediction would be a valuable technology to develop. MIT researchers, including Professor Nick Roy, are working to solve this problem using the innovative solution of robotic aircraft.
  • W3C Launches Mobile Open Source CheckerThose who are frustrated by accessibility issues when browsing the web on iPhones or G1s may not have to wait much longer for relief. The World Wide Web Consortium, headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has just released a tool called the W3C mobileOK checker to facilitate the verification of content accessibility on various devices.
  • Abelson’s Mobile Applications Class: A RecapEarlier in the year, we ran a quick story on Professor Hal Abelson’s course in mobile applications. Now, at the end of the semester, we’re returning to the course to see what was produced during its three month run.
  • Kerberos Garners Coveted Technology PrizeThe Institute has been awarded the Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration for developing, implementing and supporting Kerberos, the widely employed network authentication system. The award, which carries with it $100,000 in prize money, is given in two levels; the higher one that MIT received is in recognition for distinction over an extended period of time.
  • Devadas Wins Prestigious ID Trail Blazer Award At the 2008 ID World International Congress in Milan, CSAIL Professor Srini Devadas was honored as this year’s ID Trail Blazer for his work on unclonable silicon chips. Dr. Devadas is also co-founder and CTO of Verayo Inc.
    The technology in question is based on silicon biometrics technology known as Physical Unclonable Functions, or PUFs. Playing on the imperfections and quirks of each...
  • CSAIL’S Weitzner Tapped for Tech Position in Obama Administration Late last month, CSAIL PI Daniel Weitzner was chosen as part of a group who will oversee President-elect Barack Obama’s “innovation agenda.” The group’s agenda is designed to increase and facilitate both civilian participation in government and government engagement in and with technology. Split into sub-groups for greater specificity, the team will focus on:
    - innovation and government

    -...
  • Founding Father of AI Oliver Selfridge Dies at 82Oliver Selfridge, one of the leading lights in the early days of artificial intelligence, died Wednesday in Boston. Born in 1926, Selfridge attended Middlesex School in Concord and graduated from MIT at the age of 19 with a degree in mathematics. In 1956, he and a group of colleagues (among them Marvin Minsky) organized the first public meeting on artificial intelligence at Dartmouth, leading to...
  • CSAIL Researchers Discuss Illusion Vs. Reality of Robotics In Monday’s New York Times, a few CSAIL PIs sat down to offer their views on the robotics revolution – the real, the fake, and even the Jetsons.
    For the average child who grew up on Saturday morning cartoons, it was a tragedy to learn that The Future would probably include neither hovercars nor robotic butlers. But in our collective dejection, we may have missed the many ways in which robots...
  • iGem Jamboree Spurs Collaboration, Innovation On November 8th and 9th, CSAIL played host to the fifth annual International Genetically Modified Machines (or iGem) Jamboree. Drawing on the talents of teams from 21 countries around the world, the Jamboree aims to foster creativity in partnership with standardization of biological building blocks in the field of synthetic biology.
    Each team is given a toolkit of biological parts at the...
  • Lampson Joins Experts Urging Technological Development in Troubled Times At the 2008 Zhongguancun Forum in Beijing (Nov. 14th), the topics of discussion were innovation, development and international cooperation in advanced technology. In the current economic climate, special attention was paid to responsible, sustainable development of technology to benefit the global markets in future.
  • CSAIL Co-Hosts Regulatory Genomics Conference From October 29th to November 2nd, MIT played host to a series of meetings in the area of regulatory genomics. The conference was a combination of the 5th annual RECOMB Satellite on Regulatory Genomics, the 4th annual RECOMB Satellite on Systems Biology, and the 3rd annual DREAM reverse engineering challenge. Co-organized by CSAIL and the Broad Institute, this year’s conference surpassed all...
  • CSAIL Entrepreneur Driving Innovation in Economic Downturn With the global economy spiraling downwards, the tech sector has proven to be one of the rare bright spots of expansion and growth. The diversity of the market and the nature of the products being generated is a powerful insurance against the volatility affecting other sectors, such as housing or finance, whose lights shone more brightly in past years.
  • Researchers Seek to Understand How the Brain Sees CSAIL Professor Polina Golland is attempting to decipher the way in which the brain responds to different types of visual objects. Current efforts to tackle the problem are based on the assumption that the areas of the brain which recognize various types of objects are in the same place in every person.
  • Researchers Pioneer Innovative Voting Technology On November 4th, as the nation prepared to elect its new president, a parallel test of electoral integrity was taking place within CSAIL. A new open source voting technology, known as Scantegrity II, has been developed by an international consortium of researchers, which includes CSAIL Professor Ron Rivest and graduate student Emily Shen.
  • In the Final Days, The Candidates' Views on Technology This political season, the MIT News Office has devoted a fair amount of time to examining the platforms and views of each candidate for United States President. One recent installment features CSAIL Professor Hal Abelson, along with Harry R. Lewis of Harvard, discussing the candidates’ approach to Internet policy and technology as a whole.
  • CSAIL Hosts Second IAP Event On October 29th, CSAIL hosted the fall meeting of its Industrial Affiliate Program. The all-day event, held in Kiva, was a chance for industry representatives to meet upcoming CSAIL graduates. It also gave them a chance to learn more about the various research initiatives taking place in the lab.
  • IAP Welcomes Its Newest Member: CoatueLast week, CSAIL’S Industry Affiliate Program gained its newest member, Coatue Management. Based in New York, the company manages investments on behalf of both institutional investors and nonprofit organizations, among others. In its eight years of growth, Coatue has been committed to technology; a current large project seeks to develop an overarching software platform that is capable of...
  • CSAIL Director Weighs In On Tech Policy For Next President As the presidential election draws nearer, more attention is beginning to be paid to the solutions the next administration will use to advance both policy goals and the state of the art. Computerworld magazine recently asked a group of technology experts for their advice on the matter.
  • Berners-Lee is Top Agenda-Setter Silicon.com has chosen World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee as its number one Agenda Setter in 2008. Berners-Lee is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, which works to develop standards, software, and specifications to contribute to greater web safety, uniformity and usability.
  • Family Weekend Comes to CSAIL On Friday, October 17, CSAIL played host to relatives of MIT students from around the country and the world. Family Weekend, organized in conjunction with the MIT Parents Association, is a weekend-long series of classes, receptions, tours, performances and lectures that allows families to experience MIT for themselves.
    Attendees of the CSAIL lecture were given an inside look at various projects...
  • Cisco CEO Brings Vision, Spark to CSAIL Visit On October 15th, John Chambers of Cisco Systems visited MIT as part of a push towards greater synergy and collaboration between the two entities. Founded in San Francisco in 1984, Cisco has grown into one of the leading distributors of networking and communications technology and services in the world.
  • CSAIL Student Julie Shah Wins Distinction in Student Paper CompetitionAt the International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS), held September 14-18 in Sydney, Australia, Julie Shah took top honors in the Best Student Paper category for her work on mixed human/robot task coordination.
  • CarTel Circumvents Gridlock, Avoids DelaysA mobile-sensor network known as CarTel hopes to revolutionize the way traffic is understood, analyzed and (hopefully) avoided. The project is driven (excuse the pun) by CSAIL professors Hari Balakrishnan and Samuel Madden, in collaboration with Jacob Eriksson, Sejoon Lim and professor Daniela Rus. In a further example of cross-cutting and partnership, the initiative is funded by NSF and the T-...
  • Arvind Continues MIT Tradition with Induction into NAE CSAIL Professor Arvind, along with Robert Armstrong of the MIT Energy Initiative, was inducted into the National Academy of Engineering early this month. The NAE, founded in 1964, honors those who have made outstanding contributions to the field of engineering in the areas research, practice, education and technology. To read more about Arvind’s research, click here; for more information about...
  • CSAIL Researchers Use Brain as GuideA group of researchers will be working towards greater efficiency in the way man-made electrodes influence and gather information about cellular activity. Professor Russ Tedrake, along with Alexandre Megretski and H. Sebastian Seung of MIT and Hongkun Park of Harvard, will be working towards a greater understanding of the dynamics of these electrodes, called planar patch-clamp arrays.
  • Abelson’s Android Class Sparks Interest, Bears Fruit Professor Hal Abelson’s experimental course from spring 2008 (“Building Mobile Applications with Android”) has been renewed for the fall. Now titled “Building Mobile Applications,” enrollment has doubled and the range of devices it will work with has exloded. This is unsurprising, as its initial premise succeeded beyond all expectations.
  • Tilera Blazes New Trail in Custom Chip ArchitectureThe TilePro family of chips, launched at the end of September by the manufacturer Tilera, is causing a stir in the microprocessor world. The new technology seeks to circumvent the limits of communication imposed on more traditional chip structures by changing the way tiles “talk” to each other on each chip.
  • Researchers Bring Robotics into Wheelchair Field A new concept now in testing could make assisted navigation more seamless than ever: the autonomous wheelchair. CSAIL member Nick Roy, Assistant Professor in Aero/Astro, along with CSAIL Professor Seth Teller and Bryan Reimer from MIT's AgeLab, has expanded his work with autonomous passenger vehicles to include one for individual use on a daily and more personal scale.
  • Epoch Foundation Visit On Wednesday, September 24th, CSAIL played host to a delegation from Taiwan’s Epoch Foundation. After being introduced by Director Victor Zue, professors Antonio Torralba, Seth Teller, Dina Katabi, Ron Rivest and John Guttag each presented an ongoing research project before the group. The visit ended with demonstrations of the Capstone Project, Language Learning, Chickenfoot, and the DARPA Grand...
  • CSAIL Professor Pioneers Free-Range Cattle Fence Professor Daniela Rus is exploring the challenges of penning in an animal that, by definition, needs room to stretch its legs. In doing so, they are subtly redefining the concept entirely. Since a fence is essentially a behavior regulation device, Rus and her colleague David Anderson set out to duplicate the function while leaving the form behind.
  • CSAIL PhD Students’ Thesis Work HonoredThis week, four CSAIL PhD candidates received the George M. Sprowls Award for the best doctoral theses in computer science. The award focuses on promoting excellence in computer science research and presentation.
    This year’s honorees are:
    - Jacob Eisenstein: “Gesture in Automatic Discourse Processing”

    - Rui Fan: “Lower Bounds in Distributed Computing”

    - David Huynh: “User Interfaces...
  • Microsoft Think Tank Opens Its Doors Microsoft Research New England has just become the latest lab for the software giant. The center, which is already working in conjunction with CSAIL, has an eye towards advancing the fields of computer science and the social sciences and exploring their intersection.
  • CSAIL IAP Welcomes Newest Member MathworksThe Mathworks company has just become the twenty-first member of the consortium that forms CSAIL’s Industry Affiliate Program. Based in Natick, the academic powerhouse developed, among other things, the influential computing environment MATLAB. It joins the growing program in its second year.
  • Future CSAIL Faculty Member is Awarded Game Theory Prize A paper entitled “The Complexity of Computing a Nash Equilibrium,” co-authored by Costantinos Daskalakis, has received recognition by the Game Theory Society. The Game Theory and Computer Science Prize 2008 is the first of a series of prizes to be awarded every four years at the World Congress of the Game Theory Society. Daskalakis, who recently completed his PhD in Computer Science at the...
  • Rod Brooks Takes Robotics in a New Direction After 24 years with the Institute, CSAIL founding Director Rod Brooks is on to the next challenge. His new startup, Heartland Robotics, aims to be at the forefront of what Brooks sees as a coming revolution in the way robots will be used in daily life. According to him, the Boston area is ripe for technological development and innovation; this success is due in part to all of the robotics...
  • CSAIL Professor’s Accomplishments Celebrated in Technical Symposium NEC Professor of Software Science and Engineering Nancy Lynch was honored in late August at a series of joint lectures, co-hosted by the Principles of Distributed Computing and the International Conference on Concurrency Technology. The symposium, which coincided with the professor’s 60th birthday celebration, lauded her contributions to the foundations of distributed computing in a variety of...
  • Verayo Launches, Introduces Security Solutions Based on "Unclonable" Silicon ChipsNew Security Technology Exploits Uniqueness of Individual Silicon Chips for Authentication and Secret Key Generation
    PALO ALTO, Calif. — Verayo, a security and authentication technology provider, today introduced security solutions based on "unclonable" silicon chips. The core technology that makes these silicon chips unclonable is called Physical Unclonable Functions (PUF).
  • New Book Questions Privacy in the Digital Age Digital data is everywhere – and so, by definition, are its traces. It is in your cell phone calls, your social networking pages, your inbox, and even in the GPS tracker in your car. CSAIL professor Hal Abelson wants to know if, in today's computerized society, privacy is something that can ever be guaranteed, or even expected. Abelson, who is a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, explores the implications...
  • 'Locale' will let Android cell phones adjust to surroundingsA team of MIT students walked away from their spring-semester course with a lot more than just an A and six credits: They just won a $275,000 top prize from Google for the application they developed for the company's new open-source Android cell-phone system.
  • Rod Brooks Details What’s to Come in the Future of Robotics CSAIL professor Rod Brooks sat down for an interview with Katie Baker at Newsweek in order to outline his vision of the directions that robotics will take going forward. Brooks, also the cofounder and CTO of iRobot, became an MIT faculty member in 1984. He held the position of Director at the Artificial Intelligence Lab from 1997-2003, and then spearheaded CSAIL from its inception, in 2003,...
  • CSAIL Researchers Pioneer Privacy of Medical Records Google's announcement last fall that it would be making health records available online touched off a flurry of concerns about patient privacy in the digital age. Now MIT researchers have developed a piece of software that will help to assuage doubts about how sensitive information is protected. A research group that included CSAIL principal investigators Peter Solovitz and Bill Long has...
  • W3C Makes Web a Friendlier Place On July 29th, the World Wide Web Consortium took another step towards making internet access easier on mobile devices. The W3C, which is housed in CSAIL’s Stata Center, is attempting to streamline the process of remote Web access by standardizing mobile markup languages. W3C functions as a partnership between CSAIL, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics in France, and...
  • Young Scientist Competition Winner Takes a Look Inside StataOn July 28th, 2008, Young Scientist Competition winner David McCarthy and his family toured CSAIL, affording them a chance to look behind the scenes at the lab. McCarthy’s project, “Variation on single instruction computer,” was selected as the top choice for the prize. The Analog Devices-sponsored Young Scientist Competition has been held in Ireland since 1965 – the same year the company was...
  • Fourth Annual NASA Robotics Academy visits CSAIL for the dayOn Monday, July 21, CSAIL hosted a group from NASA’s Robotics Academy to tour the lab and find out more about what MIT has to offer; this year marks the fourth year of the Academy’s partnership with CSAIL. Assistant Director of Infrastructure Jack Costanza welcomed the 23 undergraduate students, along with Robotics Academy Dean of Academic Affairs Wence Lopez, Operations Manager Gabriel Goldman...
  • CSAIL Developing Spoken Language BrowserDespite the growing popularity of audio and video content on the Web, it can be challenging to find them. Most typical search functions can only handle text-based materials, making it very difficult to locate audio or video files without some form of text associated with it.
  • CSAIL Professor's Teach Autonomous Robot Challenge Class


  • The Center for Robotics: Intelligence in ActionCSAIL Spotlight imageThe CSAIL Center for Robotics brings together leading experts in robotics who are engaged in research aimed at creating robots that can drive cars, walk, fly, or swim; grasp and assemble arbitrary objects; perceive the world and find their way in buildings and streets; coordinate and form teams; and even change their shape to suit their task. According to Tomas Lozano-Perez, the TIBCO Founders...
  • Outreach: Empowerment through education and technologyCSAIL Spotlight image The leaders of CSAIL’s outreach programs often get asked the question, “Why is a research lab doing outreach?”
  • CSAIL & Nokia: Dial “C” for CollaborationCSAIL Spotlight imageOver the past four decades, CSAIL has partnered with numerous companies. Yet none of them have been quite like the Nokia and CSAIL collaboration known as Mobile Ecosystem 2012. In fact, CSAIL has worked with Nokia a number of times in the past, yet the current effort is still distinct. According to Arvind, Johnson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and co-director of the partnership...
  • W3C: Maintaining a Web of HumanityCSAIL Spotlight imageWhile the “C” in CSAIL stands for computer, it’s not solely what goes on inside a computer that CSAIL researchers care about – especially when what’s running on the computer is the World Wide Web. “When you’re on the Web, you’re not connecting to a computer, you’re connecting to humanity,” says Tim Berners-Lee, founder and director of...