Spotlighted News

Algorithms & Theory , Robotics , Manufacturing
Algorithms & Theory , Robotics , Manufacturing

Giving soft robots senses

Filter options
  • All
  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Talks
List view

Researchers Push Towards New Frontiers in Computer Vision

In August, researchers from academia and industry gathered to discuss the past, present and future of the field of computer vision during the Frontiers in Computer Vision Workshop at the Stata Center. Unlike many academic workshops, where the overriding goal is to facilitate discussion and collaboration on innovative research, the Frontiers in Computer Vision Workshop was designed to help define a clear goal for the field that will lay the groundwork for the next generation of computer vision research.

CSAIL's Boris Katz On NPR

What does Apple's new Siri iPhone system, billed as an intelligent assistant, mean for the future of artificial intelligence? Siri allows users to speak with their iPhone, using voice commands to send messages and schedule meetings and reminders, as well as search for restaurant recommendations and directions.

CSAIL Principal Research Scientist Boris Katz spoke with NPR about Siri, Watson and the progress of AI. While systems like Siri and Watson are useful and fun, Katz explained that we are still years away from actually understanding human intelligence and developing systems that really think like humans.

Computer Science Gives A Boost To Heart Health

For immediate release: September 28, 2011
Contact: Abby Abazorius, CSAIL
Email: phone: 617-324-9135

Researchers from MIT CSAIL, the University of Michigan, Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School have developed a new tool that can more accurately determine risk of death in patients who have suffered a heart attack. Results of the study could prove life saving for the millions of Americans who suffer heart attacks every year.

Quanta and CSAIL Explore the Cloud

Thanks to Quanta Computer, Inc., CSAIL researchers now have access to a mini cloud, a significant contribution to the lab's research infrastructure.

According to Dr. Ted Chang, Quanta's CTO, the mini cloud donation is intended to support cloud computing and academic research, and to serve as a "platform to support the T-Party project," CSAIL's collaborative effort with Quanta to build an integrated virtual computing environment.

Exploring Watson

IBM researcher Gerald Tesauro came to CSAIL Thursday evening to share IBM's work teaching Watson superhuman strategies for its Jeopardy! challenge. Tesauro, who is widely known for his work developing a self-teaching neural network that learned to play backgammon, explained how IBM leveraged its Deep Blue question answering technology to make Watson a Jeopardy! champion

"This is the coolest project IBM has ever done," said Tesauro, who delved into the various strategic aspects of Watson that helped maximize the system's chances of winning Jeopardy!.

New Seminar Explores Computational Sustainability

On Thursday, September 15 at 3 p.m., the Seminar on Computational Methods for Sustainability commences with Professor Sanjay Sarma speaking on Infrared Street Scanning. This new series, organized by Professor Brian Williams, Postdoctoral Fellow J. Zico Kolter and graduate student Youssef Marzouk, explores the role of computation in solving problems of sustainability, such as energy consumption, developing new chemical processes, and solving large-scale resource allocation problems.

Remembering Danny Lewin

MIT is the type of places where students are expected to be exceptional, but even in the midst of a student population considered to be the cream of the crop, Daniel Lewin stood out as extraordinary. Lewin, who is best known for his role as co-founder at Akamai Technologies, Inc., was killed on-board American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11. Although his life was cut short at age 31, he managed to make an indelible mark that can still be seen at MIT and Akamai ten years after his death.

"He was just incredibly talented and hard-working, he had done it all. He accomplished an amazing amount in a short lifetime," said CSAIL Professor Tom Leighton of Lewin's accomplishments.

CSAIL Welcomes New Students

Incoming graduate students were welcomed to CSAIL last Friday with a new student orientation session and an ice cream social. Students eagerly gathered in the Stata Center Friday afternoon to learn more about their new home for the next few years.

CSAIL Director Anant Agarwal welcomed students by providing a brief overview of the lab and some of the legendary thinkers and inventors who have made CSAIL a world-renowned center for computer science research.

"A lot of people say this is the most prestigious computer science lab in the world," said Agarwal. "During your time here, hopefully you can make this more true than it is today."

Andrew Lo Joins CSAIL

This summer CSAIL welcomes a world-renowned economist and the lab's first full-time member from Sloan: Professor Andrew Lo, the Harris & Harris Group Professor of Finance at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of MIT's Laboratory for Financial Engineering. While the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence may seem atypical for the work of an economist, Lo feels that joining CSAIL is a natural extension of the research path he has forged for many years.

Michael Dertouzos Memorial Website Launched

August 27, 2011 marks the 10-year anniversary of the passing of Professor Michael Dertouzos, longtime director of the Lab for Computer Science. At this time, all are invited to take a moment
to pause and reflect upon the life of a legendary leader, an influential technologist and a compassionate humanitarian at a new website created in his memory.

To read more on Dertouzos' life, share a favorite memory or watch him discuss technology and humanity, visit http://

Adelson Makes Advances In 3-D Imaging

CSAIL Professor Edward Adelson has premiered a new way to create 3-D images with a simple, portable imaging system. The system, called GelSight, can currently register physical features less than a micrometer in depth and about two micrometers across, and produce 3-D models of an object that can be manipulated on a computer screen.

GelSight could prove useful in everything from medicine to forensics and biometrics.

For more, check out the MIT News story here.

CLRS Celebrates 500,000 Copies

CSAIL members gathered on Thursday, August 4 to celebrate the sale of 500,000 copies of the textbook Introduction to Algorithms written by Professor Thomas Cormen, CSAIL Professor Charles Leiserson, CSAIL Professor Ronald Rivest and Professor Clifford Stein. The book is currently in its third edition, and has sold a half million copies since its initial publication, including 15 translations by foreign publishers.

The party featured remarks from CSAIL Professor Srini Devadas, who served as Master of Ceremonies for the event. Devadas offered a toast to the authors, proclaiming, "let's have this (party) again in four years for the millionth copy sold of the book."

Shah Returns To CSAIL

Assistant Professor Julie Shah completed her undergraduate, graduate and PhD degrees at MIT, thus when she was offered a position as an assistant professor in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics accepting the job was easy.

“MIT is just one of those places where there’s never a dull day,” said Shah. “I also have wonderful mentors and great collaborators here, so it wasn’t a hard decision.”

Cummings Makes Appearance on ‘Colbert Report’

Stephen Colbert took a stab at operating a micro aerial vehicle with a smart phone Wednesday evening when Associate Professor Mary (Missy) Cummings was a featured guest on The Colbert Report. During her appearance, Cummings explained her work with semi-autonomous flying drones as a principal investigator at CSAIL and as the director of the Humans and Automation Lab at MIT.

Cummings' segment opened with footage shot from her lab's quadrotor drone as it approached the stage and successfully landed on the table in front of Cummings and Colbert.

CSAIL Robots Take Center Stage

Two flying robots developed in Professor Daniela Rus' Distributed Robotics Lab are enjoying some time in the spotlight this summer as they perform at the Joyce Theater with the modern dance company Pilobolus. In a piece called "Seraph," the two robots interact with a dancer during an exploration of the human-machine relationship, set to a selection from Schubert's Trio No. 2 in E flat.

Rus and current and former PhD students William Selby, Brian Julian, Daniel Soltero, Andrew Marchese and Carrick Detweiler worked in collaboration with Pilobolus to develop the piece, which will run through August 6.

For more information, visit

Zue Reflects On Time As Director

Sitting in his office on the fourth floor of the Stata Center, Delta Electronics Professor Victor Zue smiled mischievously when asked about the biggest challenge of leading CSAIL, MIT's largest interdepartmental laboratory.

"The simple word is 'big,'" he said with a laugh. "The fact that it's huge makes the work very daunting. If I want to talk to each one of the PIs once a year for an hour that's 100 hours or two and a half weeks of doing nothing else."

It’s Not All Fun and Games

A computer system developed by Associate Professor Regina Barzilay, her graduate student S.R.K Branavan and David Silver of University College London has demonstrated the ability to learn language through playing a complex computer game. The system, which had no prior knowledge of how to play “Civilization” or the language in which the game’s instructions were written, was able to infer the meaning of words without human assistance as the game progressed.

Barzilay and her students hope to apply their findings to robotic systems.

For more on Barzilay’s work, visit

The Invention of E-Mail

A five-part series in the New York Times last month explored the invention of e-mail, and the development of computer science as a field of study, at MIT. To read this trip through one family's history and MIT's beginnings in computer science with Project MAC, check out

Red Socks Sendoff For Zue

CSAIL members gathered in the amphitheater of the Stata Center recently to honor departing Director Victor Zue. Lab members turned out garbed in knee-high red socks for a lab-wide photo as a memento for Zue. In addition to a very successful tenure as director, Zue made a mark for often being spotted in his signature red socks.

For more red socks photos, visit


Winston Featured on Studio 360

CSAIL Professor Patrick Winston’s work creating a computer system that can think and reason like a human has been profiled on the Public Radio International program Studio 360. In the show, Winston details his work with the Genesis system, in particular his research building a system that can understand stories like Shakespeare’s Macbeth in an effort to develop a computer that can think like a human. Listen to the program here.For more on Winston's work, please visit:

Self-Aware Computing Named World Changing Idea

Scientific American has named the self-aware computing concept pioneered by Project Angstrom researchers as one of the "10 World Changing Ideas" in the magazine's December 2011 edition. Project Angstrom, which is dedicated to developing new computer architectures able to handle the challenges of exascale computing, is led by CSAIL researchers in collaboration with researchers and software architects at Freescale, Mercury Computer Systems, Lockheed Martin, the University of Maryland and MIT's Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL), Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE) and the Microphotonics Center (MPhC).

MIT Announces New Online Learning Initiative

MIT has launched a new online learning initiative dubbed "MITx". Through MITx, individuals worldwide will be able to participate in interactive, online classes taught by MIT professors, and receive feedback and assessment on their progress. Students who demonstrate mastery of subjects will be able to earn a certificate of completion from MITx.

Professor Anant Agarwal, director of CSAIL, is leading the development of the MITx open learning software, which will be available free of cost so that other educational institutions can leverage the software for their online education offerings.

CSAIL Researchers Receive Sigcomm Best Paper Award

Several CSAIL researchers were awarded an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Sigcomm Best Paper Award for their publication, "They Can Hear Your Heartbeats: Non-Invasive Security for Implanted Medical Devices." The paper was written by CSAIL Principal Investigator and Associate Professor Dina Katabi, UMass Associate Professor and CSAIL Visiting Scientist Kevin Fu, CSAIL graduate students Shyamnath Gollakota and Haitham Hassanieh, and UMass graduate student Benjamin Ransford.

The paper, which was presented at Sigcomm 2011, presents a new system for preventing attacks on implantable medical devices. Sigcomm presents a best paper award annually.

Gifford Named ACM Fellow

CSAIL Principal Investigator David Gifford has been named an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) fellow. Gifford was honored for his "contributions to distributed systems, e-commerce and content distribution."

Gifford, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, develops new machine learning techniques and algorithms to model the transcriptional regulatory networks that control gene expression programs in living cells. He leads the Computational Genomics group at CSAIL.

Arvind Unveils New Chip Design

CSAIL Principal Investigator and Professor Arvind, CSAIL graduate student Myron King and former graduate student Nirav Dave will present a new system that enables hardware designers to specify, in a single programming language, all the functions they want a device to perform at the Association for Computing Machinery's 17th International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems.

The new system, an extension of the chip-design language BlueSpec designed by Arvind and his students, will allow hardware designers to designate which functions should be hardware and which should be software.

Kellis Wins Niki Award

CSAIL Principal Investigator Manolis Kellis, an associate professor with the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been awarded the 2011 Niki Award by the Athens Information Technology (AIT) Center of Excellence for Research and Education. The award, which is presented annually, honors prominent Greeks or personalities of Greek descent who are internationally recognized for their contributions to science and technology, and for inspiring a new generation of scientists.

Kellis, the leader of the MIT Computational Biology Group, was honored "for his distinguished contribution to science and his research into the human genome at the MIT Computational Biology Group," according to the AIT website.

CSAIL Research Featured on 'This Could Be BIG'

Check out CSAIL's work developing smarter and smoother robotic arms on ABC and Yahoo's This Could Be BIG. In the episode, CSAIL and LIDS graduate student Sertac Karaman and CSAIL graduate student Jenny Barry demonstrate an algorithm developed to help autonomous robots execute tasks in a more predictable and efficient manner for host Bill Weir.

Watch the episode here:

Spotlight on CSAIL's Nicholas Roy

CSAIL Associate Professor Nicholas Roy is focused on developing machine learning systems that can navigate the real world.

A new MIT News piece chronicles Roy's work, from his first experience with robotics as an undergraduate at McGill University to his first research project at MIT designing a robot that can estimate its position and fly through an open window. Current research of Roy's includes developing micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs) that can navigate independently.

Read more about Roy's work here.

Peh Named ACM Distinguished Scientist

CSAIL Principal Investigator Li-Shiuan Peh has been named an Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Distinguished Scientist. The ACM Distinguished Scientist award recognizes ACM members with at least 15 years of professional experience (including some education experience) and five years of continuous Professional Membership who have achieved significant accomplishments or have made a significant impact on the computing field.

Collaboration Prompts New Multicore Course

The development of a simple computing platform called Beehive at Microsoft Research has become the foundation of a new course at MIT: 6.173 Multicore Systems Laboratory. Originally designed as a low-cost platform meant to spark innovation in computer architecture research, the Beehive system was used during a 2010 IAP course taught by CSAIL Professor Frans Kaashoek, Co-Director Chris Terman, Professor Robert Morris, Assistant Professor Nickolai Zeldovich and graduate student Silas Boyd-Wickizer to rave reviews, with students competing to develop the quickest solution to the traveling-salesman problem.

Theory of Computation Group Announces Simons Fellowship

The Theory of Computation (TOC) group at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT is seeking candidates for a post-doctoral position in the general area of the theory of computation. Applicants in all areas of theory are encouraged to apply, including (but not exclusive to) algorithms, complexity theory, combinatorial optimization, cryptography, distributed computing, game theory and computation, geometry, parallel computing, and quantum computing. This fellowship is made possible by a generous gift from the Simons Foundation. The fellowship is a two year position, starting the summer or fall of 2010. The fellowship stipend is gauged to attract the highest caliber of applicants.

FastRunner Takes Off

Check out this video of the FastRunner being developed by CSAIL Principal Investigator Russ Tedrake in collaboration with researchers at the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition. Sporting legs fashioned by studying the movements of ostrich legs, the test leg for Fast Runner can currently run at 27 miles per hour. FastRunner should eventually be able to run up to 30-50 miles an hour, according to Tedrake.

MegaMIMO Wins Elevator Pitch Contest

In just 60 short seconds, CSAIL graduate student Hariharan Shankar Rahul made the case for MegaMIMO, a new Wi-Fi optimization system that solves the problem of overcrowded and overloaded wireless networks. As the first finalist asked to pitch his business plan during the final round of MIT's $100K Elevator Pitch Contest, Rahul had to wait for almost an hour after his presentation, wondering about the ultimate outcome. At the end of the night Rahul, who worked with CSAIL Principal Investigator Dina Katabi and CSAIL graduate student Swarun Kumar for two years to develop MegaMIMO, was crowned the grand prize winner and awarded $5,000.

Oliva Explores New Ground in Computational Perception

Traversing a busy street, entering a new building and locating the elevator may seem like simple tasks, mainly because you don't notice all the heavy lifting your brain undertakes when absorbing and reacting to your visual surroundings so that you don't crash into walls or get hit by a car. For years CSAIL's Aude Oliva has studied human visual intelligence, how the brain tackles scene and object recognition and visual memory, by closely examining the functions of the human brain.

CSAIL Students Honored For Outstanding Doctoral Theses

Six CSAIL students were recently named winners of the George M. Sprowls Award for the best doctoral theses in computer science. A committee consisting of CSAIL Principal investigators Daniel Jackson, Antonio Torralba, Costis Daskalakis, Dana Moshkovitz and Nickolai Zeldovich selected the award-winning theses, with help from CSAI Principal Investigators Bill Freeman, Tommi Jaakkola, Leslie Kaelbling, Manolis Kellis, and Tomas Lozano-Perez.

Seven theses from EECS were selected for this year's Sprowls Award, six of which came from CSAIL students.

Lee’s Artwork Featured in Dana-Farber Holiday Cards

The artwork of CSAIL staff member Sally Lee will bring holiday cheer to many this year, as one of Lee's illustrations has been selected for the Dana-Farber Holiday 2011 Collection. Lee's illustration, Santa's Glee, will be available for purchase as a holiday greeting card, and all sales will benefit Dana Farber and the Jimmy Fund.

Lee is an award-winning author and illustrator and has published over 20 books for children. She recently released a new book called A Cat's Alphabet Book.

As for the design behind Santa's Glee, Lee explains that she has an affinity for Santa, cats and presents.

David Clark awarded Lifetime Achievement Award by Oxford Internet Institute

David D. Clark '68, a senior research scientist with the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), is the recipient of the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his intellectual and institutional contributions to the advancement of the Internet. The award was presented to Clark on Sept. 22, in Oxford, England.

Abelson Named SIGCSE Award Winner

CSAIL Principal Investigator Harold (Hal) Abelson has been named the recipient of the 2012 SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contribution to Computer Science Education. The award is presented annually in recognition of significant contributions to computer science education.

New High-Res Map of Human Genome Unveiled

Four new papers co-authored by researchers from Associate Professor Manolis Kellis' Computational Biology group at CSAIL unveil a new high-resolution picture of the human genome that should prove useful in better understanding human biology and disease. By carefully examining and comparing the genomes of 29 different mammals, Kellis, a principal investigator at CSAIL, and collaborators around the world have gained a better understanding of the evolution of the human genome by being able to see which aspects have been preserved over time, a key step in understanding human biology and disease.

David Culler Speaking on IT & Sustainable Energy Infrastructure

Solutions to sustainability problems could be addressed through applying computational techniques, according to CSAIL researchers. This fall, the Seminar on Computational Methods for Sustainability will explore the role of computation in solving problems of sustainability, such as energy consumption, developing new chemical processes, and solving large-scale resource allocation problems. The series has been organized by CSAIL Professor Brian Williams, Postdoctoral Fellow J. Zico Kolter and Assistant Professor Youssef Marzouk.

Liskov receives Katayanagi Prize for Research Excellence

CSAIL Principal Investigator Barbara Liskov has been awarded a Katayanagi Prize for Research Excellence. The Katayanagi Prizes in Computer Science are awarded annually to the best and brightest researchers in the field of computer science, presented by Carnegie Mellon University and endowed by Japanese entrepreneur and education advocate Koh Katayanagi.

Liskov, an Institute Professor at MIT and head of the Programming Methodolgy Group at CSAIL, is world-renowned for her pioneering work in programming languages and distributed systems. In 2009, she received the A.M. Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery.


No matching results found