News Archive 2015

  • Chips with thousands of cores? New memory-management method makes it possibleBy Larry Hardesty, MIT News In a modern, multicore chip, every core — or processor — has its own small memory cache, where it stores frequently used data. But the chip also has a larger, shared cache, which all the cores can access. If one core tries to update data in the shared cache,...
  • CSAIL joins with Toyota on $25 million research center for autonomous carsThe World Health Organization estimates that 3,400 people die each day from traffic-related accidents. Could autonomous cars be part of the solution? Today CSAIL announced a new $25 million research center funded by Toyota to further the development of autonomous vehicle technologies, with...
  • Customizing 3D printing for the novice by Larry Hardesty, MIT News The technology behind 3-D printing is growing more and more common, but the ability to create designs for it is not. Any but the simplest designs require expertise with computer-aided design (CAD) applications, and even for the experts, the design process is...
  • Self-driving golf cartsAt the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in September, members of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) and their colleagues will describe an experiment conducted over six days at a large public garden in Singapore, in which self-driving golf...
  • “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...
  • Detecting damage to buildings by observing their invisible vibrationsFor Justin Chen, a PhD student in the MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), there is more to observe in the built environment than meets the eye. So much more, in fact, that he has designed his entire academic attention in CEE to center on structural health monitoring. “...
  • Happy Women's Equality Day! Learn about MIT's Women's Technology ProgramHappy Women's Equality Day! Do you know any female high school students interested in engineering and computer science? The MIT Women's Technology Program (WTP) is a rigorous four-week summer academic and residential experience where female high school students explore engineering through hands-on...
  • Searching big data fasterFor more than a decade, gene sequencers have been improving more rapidly than the computers required to make sense of their outputs. Searching for DNA sequences in existing genomic databases can already take hours, and the problem is likely to get worse. Recently, Bonnie Berger’s group at CSAIL...
  • Crash-proof computer systemsIn a computer operating system, the file system is the part that writes data to disk and tracks where the data is stored. If the computer crashes while it’s writing data, the file system’s records can become corrupt. Hours of work could be lost, or programs could stop working properly. At a...
  • Unlocking the key to obesityObesity is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century. Affecting more than 500 million people worldwide, obesity costs at least $200 billion each year in the United States alone, and contributes to potentially fatal disorders such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and...
  • Could an AI-enabled pen change how we diagnose the brain?For all of the advances in medical technology, many of the world’s most widely-used diagnostic tools essentially involve just two things: pen and paper. Tests such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) and the Clock Drawing Test (CDT) are used to detect cognitive change arising from a wide...
  • New model identifies epigenetic differences linked to cellular propertiesMuch of the research aimed at understanding the root causes of biological differences has focused on differences in the genes. But in recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on studying the changes in the regulatory switches in our DNA that control how genes are turned on and off.
  • Robots collaborate to deliver meds, supplies, and even drinksIf companies like Amazon and Google have their way, soon enough we will have robots air-dropping supplies from the sky. But is our software where it needs to be to move and deliver goods in the real world? This question has been explored for many years by researchers at MIT's Computer Science and...
  • Teaching drones to fly soloThe popular term “drone,” which conjures images of remote-controlled flying zombies, is becoming less and less descriptive of the latest unmanned aerial vehicles. New applications are requiring more autonomy and intelligence from UAVs.“When people think about drones, they largely think of big...
  • NSF's $13.1 million brain-research initiative includes Aude Oliva's work on memorabilityCSAIL principal investigator Aude Oliva has received a special research award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) as part of a $13.1 million initiative to support "transformative research in neural and cognitive systems."  One of the NSF's 16 grants will go towards Oliva's...
  • CSAIL team shows President Obama their motion-tracking device at White House Demo DayIt’s rare that anyone, including even an MIT computer scientist, is extended an invitation to the Oval Office. Even rarer, still: the opportunity to fall on your face in front of the “Leader of the Free World.” To be clear, this particular fall in question was intentional. On Tuesday, researchers...
  • Mounting attacks on Tor - and showing how to prevent themWith 2.5 million daily users, the Tor network is the world’s most popular system for protecting Internet users’ anonymity. For more than a decade, people living under repressive regimes have used Tor to conceal their Web-browsing habits from electronic surveillance, and websites hosting content...
  • CS alum's "BubbleSort" magazine aims to get young girls excited about codingThis week represents the publication of the inaugural issue of BubbleSort, a Kickstarter-funded magazine founded by an MIT alum that's aimed at getting high-school girls interested in computer science. The zine, which earned more than $60,000 on Kickstarter, will feature cartoons and comics...
  • Robots that can recognize objects? A SLAM dunkJohn Leonard’s group at CSAIL specializes in SLAM, or simultaneous localization and mapping, the technique whereby mobile autonomous robots map their environments and determine their locations. Last week, at the Robotics Science and Systems conference, members of Leonard’s group presented a new...
  • How to compute with data you can't seeThis week MIT professor Nickolai Zeldovich and his former student Raluca Popa wrote in IEEE Spectrum about new approaches to data encryption being pioneered by CSAIL computer scientists. "Not long ago, hackers stole about 40 million debit- and credit-card records from Target, another...
  • What better wind-speed prediction can do for the energy industryWhen a power company wants to build a new wind farm, it generally hires a consultant to make wind speed measurements at the proposed site for eight to 12 months. Those measurements are correlated with historical data and used to assess the site’s power-generation capacity. This month CSAIL ...
  • Why is leadership a "dirty word" for academics? Why is "leadership" a dirty word in academia? According to CSAIL principal investigator Charles Leiserson, science faculty need it more than anyone. In the latest issue of Nature, he writes about his experience teaching the topic to hundreds of professors over the years through special workshops...
  • Cutting cost and power consumption for big dataRandom-access memory, or RAM, is where computers like to store the data they’re working on. A processor can retrieve data from RAM tens of thousands of times more rapidly than it can from the computer’s disk drive. But in the age of big data, data sets are often much too large to fit in a single...
  • Predicting what customers want - MIT spin-off develops choice-modeling softwareU.S. retail chains often rely on intuition in choosing which products, from a vast inventory, will sell best at stores across the nation. Now MIT spinout Celect is refining this process with novel data analytics, revealing interesting insights into how retailers can optimize their shelf space....
  • Computer program fixes old code faster than expert engineersLast year, MIT computer scientists and Adobe engineers came together to try to solve a major problem that many companies face: bit-rot. A good example is Adobe’s successful Photoshop photo editor, which just celebrated its 25th birthday. Over the years Photoshop had accumulated heaps of code that...
  • CSAIL report: giving government special access to data poses major security risksIn recent months, government officials in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other countries have made repeated calls for law-enforcement agencies to be able to access, upon due authorization, encrypted data to help them solve crimes. Beyond the ethical and political implications of such an...
  • Micali named Carnegie “Great Immigrant” in New York TimesToday it was announced that CSAIL researcher Silvio Micali has been named a “Great Immigrant” by Carnegie Corporation of New York —one of 39 naturalized citizens across the country to be honored in 2015. Every July 4 since 2006, Carnegie Corporation has recognized the contributions of immigrants...
  • Can we predict which students will drop out of MOOCs?MOOCs — massive open online courses — grant huge numbers of people access to world-class educational resources, but they also suffer high rates of attrition. To some degree, that’s inevitable: Many people who enroll in MOOCs may have no interest in doing homework, but simply plan to listen to...
  • "CodePhage" system automatically fixes bugs, without the original source codeThis month CSAIL researchers presented a new system that repairs dangerous software bugs by automatically importing functionality from other, more secure applications. Remarkably, the system, dubbed CodePhage, doesn’t require access to the source code of the applications whose functionality it’...
  • Ron Rivest named Institute Professor - one of only 23 in MIT historyCSAIL researcher Ron Rivest is one of three faculty members to be named an MIT Institute Professor. He is one 13 at MIT, along with 10 Institute Professors emeriti. Their new appointments are effective July 1, making them the first faculty members to be named Institute Professors since...
  • Furniture that disappears - a profile of CSAIL spin-off Rock Paper RobotDesigning chairs and tables isn't exactly rocket science, but Jessica Banks has the creds to make you think that's the case. After earning a master's degree from MIT, where she was in the Humanoid Robotics Group at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and teaching in the...
  • Stonebraker officially accepts $1m Turing Award, "Nobel Prize for computing"Michael Stonebraker, a CSAIL researcher who has revolutionized the field of database management systems (DBMSs) and founded multiple successful database companies, just accepted the Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) A.M. Turing Award, often referred to as “the Nobel Prize of...
  • How a video algorithm could help out coachesFor several years now, the research groups of CSAIL principal investigators William Freeman and Frédo Durand have been investigating techniques for amplifying movements captured by video but indiscernible to the human eye. Versions of their algorithms can make the human pulse visible and even...
  • Patrick Winston's 6.034 named one of five best CS classes in countryProfessor Patrick Winston's course on artificial intelligence was just named one of the five best computer science classes in the country by Bloomberg Businessweek. "6.034: Artificial Intelligence" boasts alums like U.S. Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith and Internet Archive founder...
  • Origami robot self-folds, crawls, climbs, swims, self-destructsA team of CSAIL researchers have developed a printable origami robot that folds itself up from a flat sheet of plastic when heated and measures about a centimeter from front to back. Weighing only a third of a gram, the robot can swim, climb an incline, traverse rough terrain, and carry a load...
  • CSAIL team proves 40-year-old algorithm can't be improved uponComparing the genomes of different species — or different members of the same species — is the basis of a great deal of modern biology. DNA sequences that are conserved across species are likely to be functionally important, while variations between members of the same species can indicate...
  • CSAIL team finishes inches away from winning $2 million DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC)CSAIL finishes inches away from winning $2 million DARPA Robotics Challenge
  • Helping robots handle uncertaintyDecentralized partially observable Markov decision processes are a way to model autonomous robots’ behavior in circumstances where neither their communication with each other nor their judgments about the outside world are perfect. The problem with Dec-POMDPs (as they’re abbreviated) is that they’...
  • Helping robots assemble furniture on the flyToday’s industrial robots are remarkably efficient — as long as they’re in a controlled environment where everything is exactly where they expect it to be. But put them in an unfamiliar setting, where they have to think for themselves, and their efficiency plummets. And the difficulty of on-...
  • To handle big data, shrink it - algorithm reduces size of data sets while preserving their mathematical properties.As anyone who’s ever used a spreadsheet can attest, it’s often convenient to organize data into tables. But in the age of big data, those tables can be enormous, with millions or even hundreds of millions of rows. One way to make big-data analysis computationally practical is to reduce the size of...
  • Gauging materials’ physical properties from videoLast summer, CSAIL researchers published a paper describing an algorithm that can recover intelligible speech from the analysis of the minute vibrations of objects in video captured through soundproof glass. In June, at the Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, researchers from the...
  • Learn a language while you textThe average person spends 10 to 15 minutes a day waiting for texts and instant-message (IM) replies, according to an analysis by Carrie Cai, a PhD student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). What if you could be more productive during those idle moments? Cai is on...
  • Algorithm removes reflections from photos taken through windowsIt’s hard to take a photo through a window without picking up reflections of the objects behind you. To solve that problem, professional photographers sometimes wrap their camera lenses in dark cloths affixed to windows by tape or suction cups. But that’s not a terribly attractive option for a...
  • Could a scene-recognition system help robots detect individual objects, too?Object recognition — determining what objects are where in a digital image — is a central research topic in computer vision. But a person looking at an image will spontaneously make a higher-level judgment about the scene as whole: It’s a kitchen, or a campsite, or a conference room. Among computer...
  • Drones - from the skies to the seasFor the last decade, scientists have deployed increasingly capable underwater robots to map and monitor pockets of the ocean to track the health of fisheries, and survey marine habitats and species. In general, such robots are effective at carrying out low-level tasks, specifically assigned to...
  • VIDEO: PhD's TEDTalk on the future of the "visual microphone"Subtle motion happens around us all the time, including tiny vibrations caused by sound. New technology shows that we can pick up on these vibrations and actually re-create sound and conversations just from a video of a seemingly still object. (See former CSAIL researcher Michael Rubinstein...
  • Learn a language while you textThe average person spends 10 to 15 minutes a day waiting for texts and instant-message (IM) replies, according to an analysis by Carrie Cai, a PhD student at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL).  What if you could be more productive during those idle moments? Cai is...
  • Matei Zaharia receives ACM Doctoral Dissertation awardToday the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM) announced that CSAIL researcher Matei Zaharia has won the 2014 Doctoral Dissertation Award for his innovative solutions to tackling the surges in data processing workloads. An assistant professor at CSAIL, Zaharia has been recognized for proposing...
  • Learn about Big Data online! Enroll now in CSAIL-taught course with MIT Professional EducationSign Up Now for Spring Session of "Tackling the Challenges of Big Data"Starting May 5 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...
  • One way to reduce email stress: Re-invent the mailing listWe all feel it — that panicked sensation when we check our inbox and see the deluge of emails awaiting our attention. The average person receives upwards of 150 emails a day, and it often seems like no amount of tagging or filtering can close the floodgates. One major source of stress is the never-...