News Archive 2015

  • Machines that learn like peopleObject-recognition systems are beginning to get pretty good — and in the case of Facebook’s face-recognition algorithms, frighteningly good. But object-recognition systems are typically trained on millions of visual examples, which is a far cry from how humans learn. Show a human two or three...
  • Deep-learning algorithm predicts photos’ memorability at “near-human” levelsResearchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have created an algorithm that can predict how memorable or forgettable an image is almost as accurately as humans — and they plan to turn it into an app that subtly tweaks photos to make them more memorable. For...
  • CSAIL shows off demos to 150 high-schoolers for “Hour of Code”On Friday, MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) hosted 150 local high school students for its second annual “Hour of Code” event, tied to the international initiative focused on getting kids interested in programming. Researchers showed off robots, 3-D-printing...
  • Does Google's quantum computer live up to the hype?This week, a group of Google researchers released a paper claiming that in their experiments, a quantum algorithm running on their D-Wave machine was 100 million times faster than a comparable classical algorithm. CSAIL researcher and MIT professor Scott Aaronson has been following the D-...
  • Computer drawings fool human judges, pass “visual Turing test” Researchers at CSAIL, New York University, and the University of Toronto have developed a computer system whose ability to produce a variation of a character in an unfamiliar writing system, on the first try, is indistinguishable from that of humans. That means that the system in some sense...
  • VIDEO: Turning WiFI into "X-ray vision" (CBS News)CBS News' "This Morning with Charlie Rose" just profiled CSAIL research that turns wireless signals into "x-ray vision" that can detect people through walls. From the story: "No cell phone, no pendant, no sensor. It's purely based on wireless signals that reflect off our bodies...
  • Data, drones and 3D-printed hearts - the 7 coolest things that happened at CSAIL in 2015It’s been a busy year for MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). Researchers won the Turing Award, created groundbreaking algorithms to fix code and detect disease, and developed exciting new robots and artificial-intelligence systems. As 2015 comes to a close,...
  • Piotr Indyk named ACM fellowThe Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) has named CSAIL researcher Piotr Indyk a 2015 Fellow for “contributions to high-dimensional geometric computing, streaming/sketching algorithms, and the Sparse Fourier Transform. Indyk is among only 1 percent of ACM members to receive the distinction,...
  • Untraceable text messages - guaranteed  Anonymity networks, which sit on top of the public Internet, are designed to conceal people’s Web-browsing habits from prying eyes. The most popular of these, Tor, has been around for more than a decade and is used by millions of people every day.
  • Our top 15 Tweets of 2015We’ve been active on Twitter this year, sending out more than 600 Tweets about computer science, technology, and research to an audience of more than 14,000 followers that has nearly doubled over the last 12 months. Walk down memory lane with us as we look at our top 15 Tweets of 2015 (as...
  • Professor Charles Leiserson named IEEE FellowThe Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has named CSAIL researcher Charles E. Leiserson one of five IEEE Fellows for 2016 for his “leadership in parallel and distributed computing." Effective January 1, the fellowship is a prestigious honor given to less than 0.1% of the...
  • Ad-blocking alternative gives back to websites based on your browsingThe vast majority of online content is free to access, which is great for consumers but not so fair to creators. We “pay” via the intimate browsing data we give to content providers and the attention we pay to advertisements - and this gives folks like MIT professor David Karger pause.“I don’t...
  • Encryption solution in wake of Paris should come from DC, not Silicon Valley (Op-Ed)Reprinted from the Washington Post In the wake of the terrible terrorist attacks in Paris, law enforcement officials in Washington are again calling on technology designers to dumb down user’s Internet security to enable guaranteed access to all data and communications, even if encrypted.
  • Victor Zue named AAAS FellowThis week CSAIL principal investigator Victor W. Zue was one of three MIT faculty members to be elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), according to the journal Science. The new fellows are part of a group of 347 AAAS members elected by their...
  • Can computer science untangle our transit maps?CSAIL principal investigator Ruth Rosenholtz was on Science Friday today to discuss her research applying computer-vision techniques to transit maps.  Her computer models are capable of determining how well people will comprehend a subway map (or other complex visualizations) in a...
  • CSAIL founder & computing pioneer Bob Fano turns 98Today lab members celebrated the 98th birthday of Professor Emeritus Robert “Bob” Fano, who 52 years ago founded MIT’s Project MAC, the predecessor to CSAIL. In 1963 The Italian-born Fano co-founded Project MAC, a project focused on developing time-sharing computers. The project laid the foundation...
  • What are your apps hiding?CSAIL researchers have found that much of the data transferred to and from the 500 most popular free applications for Google Android cellphones make little or no difference to the user’s experience. Of those “covert” communications, roughly half appear to be initiated by standard Android analytics...
  • NASA gives CSAIL 6-ft-tall humanoid robot to develop software for future space missionsThis week NASA announced that MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is one of just two institutions who will receive “R5,” a six-foot, 290-pound humanoid robot also known as “Valkyrie” that will serve on future space missions to Mars and beyond.A group led by...
  • NASA gives CSAIL 6-ft-tall humanoid robot to develop software for future space missionsThis week NASA announced that MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is one of just two institutions who will receive “R5,” a six-foot, 290-pound humanoid robot also known as “Valkyrie” that will serve on future space missions to Mars and beyond. Full story here.
  • Rising Stars workshop helps female researchers network, job-searchSuccess in higher education, especially for women in computer science and electrical engineering, takes a network. And while some connections are only a text message or tweet away, the personal touch still matters, and it works differently. For graduate students like Judy Hoffman, who studies...
  • Wish your smartphone could Photoshop? Image-processing technique cuts bandwidth use 98% As smartphones become people’s primary computers and their primary cameras, there is growing demand for mobile versions of image-processing applications. Image processing, however, can be computationally intensive and could quickly drain a cellphone’s battery. Some mobile applications try to...
  • How to make better visualizationsSpend 10 minutes on social media, and you’ll learn that people love infographics. But why, exactly, do we gravitate towards articles with titles like “24 Diagrams to Help You Eat Healthier” and “All You Need To Know About Beer In One Chart”? Do they actually serve their purpose of not only...
  • A "spot-the-difference" AI could help architects detect structural defects At the Siggraph Asia conference this week, MIT researchers presented a pair of papers describing techniques for either magnifying or smoothing out small variations in digital images. The techniques could be used to produce more polished images for graphic-design projects, or, applied in the...
  • System automatically converts 2-D video to 3-DBy exploiting the graphics-rendering software that powers sports video games, researchers at MIT and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) have developed a system that automatically converts 2-D video of soccer games into 3-D. The converted video can be played back over any 3-D device —...
  • Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee's next project: a platform that gives users control of their dataThis week MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) announced that it has received a $1 million gift from MasterCard that will go towards the research efforts of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and co-leader of the lab’s
  • Self-flying drone dips, darts and dives through trees at 30 mphA researcher from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has developed an obstacle-detection system that allows a drone to autonomously dip, dart and dive through a tree-filled field at upwards of 30 miles per hour.
  • Next in 3D-printing: the "zoolophone," a new musical instrument made of animal shapesIn creating what looks to be a simple children’s musical instrument—a xylophone with keys in the shape of zoo animals—computer scientists at CSAIL, Columbia, Harvard and Disney Research have demonstrated that sound can be controlled by 3D-printing shapes. The team designed an optimization...
  • VIDEO: Autonomous soft robot uses its "tongues" to jump, bounce and rollResearchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab have developed a soft robotic cube that uses a series of spring-loaded metal tongues to jump, bounce and roll along rocky terrain. The three-inch-wide, seven-ounce cube is able to jump more than...
  • How wireless “X-ray vision” could power virtual reality, smart homes, and HollywoodA team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has long believed that wireless signals like WiFi can be used to see things that are invisible to the naked eye.
  • The NBA season starts today, and we want to helpToday represents the first day of the 2015-2016 NBA season, and we want to help. Well, sort of. Over the years, CSAIL researchers have regularly participated in the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, where computer scientists and mathematicians come together to discuss research...
  • The basis for all cryptography “Indistinguishability obfuscation” is a powerful concept that would yield provably secure versions of every cryptographic system we’ve ever developed and all those we’ve been unable to develop. But nobody knows how to put it into practice.
  • Self-flying drone dips, darts and dives through trees at 30 mphA researcher from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) has developed an obstacle-detection system that allows a drone to autonomously dip, dart and dive through a tree-filled field at upwards of 30 miles per hour.   
  • How financial engineering can cure cancerWe are making breakthroughs almost weekly in our understanding of cancer and other deadly diseases, both in how to treat and – in some cases – how to cure them. So why is funding for early stage biomedical research and development declining just when we need it most? CSAIL principal...
  • Report: US & Europe need “privacy bridges” for personal dataJust two weeks after Europe’s highest court struck down the “safe-harbor” agreement that let companies move digital information between the EU and the US, researchers from CSAIL and the University of Amsterdam published a report delivering ten...
  • It's official: STEM now includes computer science, according to the US governmentThis month the STEM Education Act of 2015, which expands the definition of STEM—an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—to include computer science programs, was signed into law. As Education Week reports, the new law does not add funding, but it does expand...
  • Tax-evading corporations, watch out: our AI knows what you're doingEvery year corporations under-report roughly $91 billion of taxable income via schemes known as “partnerships and S corporations." The government tweaks its regulations every year to try to keep up with all of the complicated methods, but, just like a big game of Whack-a-Mole, every time one...
  • Machine-learning expert Jegelka wins major German awardThis week CSAIL principal investigator Stefanie Jegelka received a prestigious German prize for her research efforts in machine learning.  Considered the highest recognition awarded by the German Pattern Recognition Society, the “Deutscher Mustererkennungspreis” prize is given to an...
  • "Data Science Machine" crunches numbers faster and more effectively than most humans Big-data analysis consists of searching for buried patterns that have some kind of predictive power. But choosing which “features” of the data to analyze usually requires some human intuition. In a database containing, say, the beginning and end dates of various sales promotions and weekly...
  • CSAIL announces “Cambridge 2 Cambridge” cybersecurity challenge with University of Cambridge
  • Meet CSAIL’s winners of the “Nobel Prize for computing”Congratulations to this year's Nobel Prize winners! While computer science has no formal Nobel Prize, the Association for Computing Machinery’s A.M. Turing Award is often described as “the Nobel Prize of computing.” Over the years, more than a dozen CSAIL-affiliated computer scientists have receive...
  • Predicting change in the Alzheimer’s brain CSAIL researchers are developing a computer system that uses genetic, demographic, and clinical data to help predict the effects of disease on brain anatomy. In experiments, they trained a machine-learning system on MRI data from patients with neurodegenerative diseases and found that...
  • Learn about Big Data online! Enroll now in CSAIL-taught courseSign Up Now for Fall Session of "Tackling the Challenges of Big Data"Starting October 6 MIT Professional Education will be offering a new installment of the online professional course, "Tackling the Challenges of Big Data". Twelve faculty experts from CSAIL will lead the course with enhanced...
  • Better object recognition through flexible machine-learningMachine learning, which is the basis for most commercial artificial-intelligence systems, is intrinsically probabilistic. An object-recognition algorithm asked to classify a particular image, for instance, might conclude that it has a 60 percent chance of depicting a dog, but a 30 percent chance of...
  • Soft robotic gripper can pick up and identify wide array of objectsRobots have many strong suits, but delicacy traditionally hasn’t been one of them. Rigid limbs and digits make it difficult for them to grasp, hold, and manipulate a range of everyday objects without dropping or crushing them. Recently, CSAIL researchers have discovered that the solution may...
  • Meet CSAIL's MacArthur "genius grant" recipientsCongratulation to this year's "MacArthur geniuses"! Today the MacArthur Foundation announced its annual fellowships, often unofficially referred to as "genius grants." 2015's recipients included MIT economist Heidi Williams, whose scholarly work looks at the effects of patent policies and...
  • “MultiFab” 3D-prints a record 10 materials at once, no assembly required3D printing is great, assuming that all you need to do is print one material for one purpose, and that you’re okay with it taking a few tries. But the technology is still far behind where it could be in reliably...
  • One of our generation's "most brilliant geeks" on cloud-computing and Bill Gates comparisonsCSAIL researcher Matei Zaharai was recently profiled by The Economist in a story about the state of cloud-computing start-ups. Zaharia is co-founder of Databricks, a promising startup whose data-crunching technology Spark has drawn the attention of prominent developers, as well as a little...
  • Teaching language to computers...by having them play computer games CSAIL researchers have designed a computer system that learns how to play a text-based computer game with no prior assumptions about how language works. Although the system can’t complete the game as a whole, its ability to complete sections of it suggests that, in some sense, it discovers...
  • 3D-printed hearts? System converts MRI scans into physical modelsResearchers at CSAIL and Boston Children’s Hospital have developed a system that can take MRI scans of a patient’s heart and, in a matter of hours, convert them into a tangible, physical model that surgeons can use to plan surgery. The models could provide a more intuitive way for surgeons to...
  • Computers can now distinguish not just spoken words, but individual syllablesEvery language has its own collection of phonemes, or the basic phonetic units from which spoken words are composed. Depending on how you count, English has somewhere between 35 and 45. Knowing a language’s phonemes can make it much easier for automated systems to learn to interpret speech. In...