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Guttag’s Research Featured in Big Data Book

New research by Professor and CSAIL Principal Investigator John Guttag and Professor Collin Stultz is featured in famed photographer Rick Smolan's new book on big data. The Human Face of Big Data, which will be released in November, was formally announced last week. The book will feature numerous photographs, including one of Guttag and Stultz, depicting the ways in which the massive onslaught of new data being collected through websites, sensors and other channels is being used by scientists to gain new insight into human behavior.

Lo Named Nash Distinguished Lecturer

CSAIL Principal Investigator Andrew Lo has been named a 2012 Nash Distinguished Lecturer by Carnegie Mellon University. As part of the sixth Nash Distinguished Lecture Series in Quantitative Finance, Lo will give a talk entitled, "Can Financial Engineering Cure Cancer?" on Thursday, September 27.

Lo is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of MIT's Laboratory for Financial Engineering.

CSAIL Research Examines How Smart Phone Apps Track Users

Chances are that if you own a smart phone you have downloaded a host of different applications, from weather tools to maps, social media applications and games. Many consumers are aware that smart phone applications tend to gather personal information about users, oftentimes tracking location and usage activity. New research from CSAIL's Decentralized Information Group (DIG) shows that a majority of applications not only collect user information when the application is in operation, but also when the application is inactive or when the user has turned off his or her smart phone screen.

Big Data Lecture Series Kicks Off Tomorrow

On Wednesday, September 12, bigdata@CSAIL, CSAIL's new initiative focused on tackling the challenges presented by this burgeoning field, kicks off its first lecture series with a talk by Google fellows Jeffrey Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat. "Living with Big Data: Challenges and Opportunities" will be presented in the Patil/Kiva conference room (32-G449) in the Stata Center from 4:00pm-5:30pm.

CSAIL and Dell Join Forces for Innovation in Education Think Tank

On Thursday, September 13 at 10:00am EST CSAIL and Dell are joining forces for a Social Think Tank on Innovation in Education. Dell's Social Think Tanks bring together industry leaders to discuss trends, challenges and best practices around key topics. The Innovation in Education Think Tank will bring together more than 20 leaders in education, learning and innovation - including edX President and CSAIL Principal Investigator Anant Agarwal - to discuss technology in the classroom.

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.

As part of an annual tradition at CSAIL, students, faculty and staff gathered outside on the terrace of the R&D Commons after the orientation session to enjoy homemade ice cream from Lizzy's, sponsored by CSAIL's Industry Affiliates Program.

Researchers Identify Biochemical Functions for Most of the Human Genome

Only about 1 percent of the human genome contains gene regions that code for proteins, raising the question of what the rest of the DNA is doing. Scientists have now begun to discover the answer: About 80 percent of the genome is biochemically active, and likely involved in regulating the expression of nearby genes, according to a study from a large international team of researchers.

Goldwasser Named Simons Investigator

The Simons Foundation has announced that Shafi Goldwasser, the RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a principal investigator at CSAIL, has been named a Simons Investigator. Goldwasser is one of three MIT professors selected for the honor.

Simons Investigators receive $100,000 annually to support their research. The support is for an initial period of five years, with the possibility of renewal for an additional five years. The goal of the program is to provide a stable base of support for outstanding scientists in their most productive years, enabling them to undertake long-term study of fundamental questions.

Spotlight on Russ Tedrake

Associate Professor Russ Tedrake's route to the world of robotics was unconventional. He initially planned on becoming an engineer until he realized how quickly and easily he could design objects with a computer, leading him towards computer programming and eventually a master's degree in computing engineering. It was not until he came to MIT for his PhD, and began studying how humans walk that he began working with robots.

CSAIL Grad Develops ‘Pencil With Potential’

CSAIL graduate Mario Bollini has transitioned from programming robots that bake cookies to developing pencils that when planted will sprout fresh herbs and vegetables. In a new endeavor called Sprout, Bollini, who was previously a member of CSAIL Director Daniela Rus' Distributed Robotics Lab, and fellow MIT classmates from a product development course have developed a "pencil with potential."

Each pencil has a different seed located inside. When the pencil is too short to use, users can plant it, and when watered the pencil will sprout anything from heirloom cherry tomatoes to radishes and marigolds.

Bloomberg Businessweek Spotlights MERS Research in Manufacturing

In a new video on the future of robotics, Bloomberg Businessweek featured Professor Brian Williams' Model-based Embedded and Robotic Systems Group (MERS) and their work with developing new methods for robots and humans to work together in efficient and successful ways. The video features Steven Levine, a graduate student at CSAIL, demonstrating his work programming a robotic arm that could operate alongside humans in a manufacturing setting.

In the piece, Levine explains his group's research motivation, which is develop robots that are easier to communicate with so that they will be more adaptable in human society.

Check out the full video below.

EMC Spotlights bigdata@CSAIL

EMC TV is putting the spotlight on CSAIL's new initiative bigdata@CSAIL, in a 30-minute piece on the station's IT Insider show. Professor and CSAIL Principal Investigator Sam Madden chronicles the challenges and opportunities presented by the field and new research underway at CSAIL.

The wisdom of crowds

Contact: Abby Abazorius,
MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)
T. 617.324.9135;

Uncovering and modeling gene regulatory networks is one of the longstanding challenges in computational biology. While many different methods exist for analyzing and reconstructing gene regulatory networks, it is often difficult to decipher when these techniques will operate successfully, and which method is optimal for exploring different datasets.

Sana AudioPulse Wins Mobile Health Challenge

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends screening all infants for hearing loss before six months of age to prevent permanent damage such as speech and language impairment, learning disabilities and much more. In Brazil the government has gone so far as to mandate screenings for all infants, but despite these efforts many infants go without testing due to limited medical resources.

10-year-old problem in theoretical computer science falls

Interactive proofs, which CSAIL researchers helped pioneer, have emerged as one of the major research topics in theoretical computer science. In the classic interactive proof, a questioner with limited computational power tries to extract reliable information from a computationally powerful but unreliable respondent. Interactive proofs are the basis of cryptographic systems now in wide use, but for computer scientists, they’re just as important for the insight they provide into the complexity of computational problems.

Jackson’s ‘Dark Machines’ Exhibit on Display at MIT Museum

Fifty years ago, famed photographer Berenice Abbott came to MIT to make images for scientific textbooks. For two years she chronicled various scientific phenomena while visiting research laboratories across campus. As the MIT Museum prepared to open its new Kurtz Gallery for Photography with an inaugural exhibit of Abbott's MIT photographs this spring, Curator Gary Van Zante came up with a concept to breath new life into Abbott's pictures: juxtapose Abbott's images, which were taken from the vantage point of a professional photographer with no scientific background, with photographs shot by an active scientist at MIT.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Honored in Olympics Opening Ceremony

Sir Tim Berners-Lee was honored during the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics Friday for his work in developing the World Wide Web. During a segment entitled "Frankie and June Say, 'Thanks Tim,'" Berner-Lee - a professor at MIT, a principal investigator at CSAIL and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)- generated a Tweet for the viewing audience that was illuminated around the stadium. The message: "This is for everyone."

New Aircraft Capable of Fast, Accurate and Repeatable Flight

How does a bird handle the wind, hanging effortlessly while battered by gusts and darting through clusters of trees with seamless precision? Associate Professor Russ Tedrake wants to understand how birds can operate under such conditions and create machines that can do the same. His current goal is to develop an aircraft that can fly like a bird, darting through trees and narrowly avoiding obstacles during fast-paced flight. Tedrake and his research group at CSAIL, the Robot Locomotion Group, recently unveiled a video of a new computer-controlled aircraft that is able to accurately perform knife-edge turns, rolling 90 degrees to dart through an opening narrower than the aircraft's wingspan.

First MITx Leadership Gift Presented in Honor of Ward

MIT alumnus Philippe Laffont has made the first individual leadership gift in support of MITx, MIT's new online learning initiative. The Philippe & Ana Luisa Laffont Family Foundation contributed $1 million to honor Stephen A. Ward (SB '66 and SM '69 in electrical engineering; PhD '74 in computer science from MIT), Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, who was Laffont's thesis advisor at MIT. The gift will enable MITx to offer new courses, and will support its efforts to bring courses to an even wider audience.

MITx provides online courses to edX, the joint MIT/Harvard online education project announced in May. Both MIT and Harvard have committed $30 million to edX.

Berger Named ISCB Fellow

Bonnie Berger, a professor of Applied Mathematics and Computer Science at MIT and a principal investigator at CSAIL, has been named a 2012 Fellow of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB). The ISCB Fellows program honors members that have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics.

'ISCB Fellows represent the absolute pillars of our community," stated Burkhard Rost, president of the ISCB. 'I can imagine that the ISCB Fellows will become an active group of the Society, serving as a pool of experts that can help drive the scientific excellence of our field."

ALFA Researchers Win Best Paper Award

Members of the CSAIL AnyScale Learning For All (ALFA) were honored with the best paper award at the 2012 EvoPAR track of the Evo-Applications conference. The paper, "FlexGP: Genetic programming on the cloud," is co-authored by Dylan Sherry, Kalyan Veeramachaneni, James McDermott and Una-May O'Reilly.

The paper presents a prototyped design for a decentralized, robust genetic programming algorithm capable of operating on the cloud.

ALFA is lead by Dr. Una-May O'Reilly, a principal research scientist at CSAIL. The group is focused on developing efficient ways to solve hard optimization and design problems in domains of high complexity.


DRL Dances With Umbrellas

The Distributed Robotics Lab (DRL) at CSAIL joined forces with modern dance company Pilobolus for the second time this fall to light up the nighttime sky when the two premiered their latest work, UP: The Umbrella Project at the PopTech Conference. Through UP, more than 250 volunteers participated in a live performance of constantly changing colorful umbrellas. Each participant in UP was outfitted with an umbrella containing multi-colored LED lights and given the freedom to roam throughout the Camden Harbor Park & Amphitheatre.

Miller Develops New Online Learning Tool

Contact: Abby Abazorius
MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)
T. 617.324.9135;
In an effort to bring a more human dimension to the online education experience, MIT Professor Rob Miller has developed a new computer system that will help provide students with feedback on their homework assignments and create more interaction between students, teachers, and alumni.

Education Goes Mobile

Hal Abelson - the Class of 1922 Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, a principal investigator at CSAIL and co-chair of the MIT Council on Educational Technology - has been at the forefront of not only computer science education, but also teaching in general for much of his storied career. In the past year, he has been honored with both the Association for Computing Machinery's (ACM) Karl V. Karlstom Outstanding Educator Award and the SIGCSE Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computer Science Education for his work in advancing computer science education.

Joshi Awarded Best Student Paper Prize

Dr. Rohit Joshi, a postdoctoral associate in Professor Peter Szolovits' Clinical Decision Making Group, has been awarded the best student paper prize at the 2012 American Medical Informatics Association's Annual Symposium. The paper, "Prognostic Physiology: Modeling Patient Severity in Intensive Care Units Using Radial Domain Folding", describes a new method for clustering groups of patients in ways that improve a physician's ability to make more accurate predictions about what is likely to happen to them during their episode of intensive care and afterwards.

Sollins Named 2012 AAAS Fellow

Dr. Karen Sollins, a principal research scientist at CSAIL, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

This year 702 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, 16 February during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting.

Sibling Power

It's not often that you find two siblings more in sync than Andrew and Jennifer Barry. They go on long runs together along the Charles River, play Frisbee together during the summer and both study robotics at CSAIL. They work just one floor apart at the Stata Center, meeting each other for candy breaks and long runs where they often spend mile after mile ruminating over their latest research problems.

Discovery Channel Features MERS Research

The Discovery Channel has featured new work from Professor Brian Williams' Model-based Embedded and Robotics Systems Group (MERS) at CSAIL on its Daily Planet show. The segment features CSAIL graduate student Peng Yu and his work with increasing collaboration between humans and robots.

During the Daily Planet feature, Yu demonstrates a new system for controlling quadcopters, eventually allowing Daily Planet host Lucas Cochran to guide the quadcopter through a model city using audio and gesture controls. The system could be used for search and rescue operations or surveillance, according to Yu.

EETimes Names Wireless@MIT A Visionary To Watch

EETimes has named the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing (Wireless@MIT) as one of its 10 electronic visionaries to watch.

"Predicting the future is always fraught with peril, but the visionaries featured here are boldly going where no one has gone before," writes R. Colin Johnson of the 10 electronic visionaries to watch.

The center, which is based at CSAIL and led by Professor Hari Balakrishnan and Professor Dina Katabi, is cited for its dedication to solving the current problems plaguing wireless and its aim to develop the next generation of wireless and mobile technologies.

Zue Awarded Okawa Prize

Victor Zue, the Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and the director of International Relations for CSAIL, has been named the 2012 recipient of the Okawa Prize. Zue was honored for his "pioneering and outstanding contributions to speech science and conversational spoken-language systems."

CSAIL Team Honored for Printable Robot

This past summer, the African Robotics Network (AFRON) challenged roboticists around the world to design a new class of robot, one that could be easily integrated into classrooms around the world. SEG, a robot designed by CSAIL Director Daniela Rus' Distributed Robotics Lab, took third prize in the traditional (roaming) category of the competition.

SEG, an origami-inspired Segway robot, is a small robot made of polyester. The robot roams on two large wheels, and is able to avoid obstacles and collisions thanks to an onboard sensing and navigation system. What is perhaps most noteworthy about SEG, though, is that the robot was printed on a sheet of polyester and takes less than one day and 15 dollars to produce.

Computer Science Students Look to Twitter for Clues on Election

Polls currently show a tight race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney. While traditional polls survey several thousand people over a couple of days, a new research project by computer science students at MIT and the University of Chicago takes a new look at voter sentiment by analyzing the sentiments of social media users on Twitter. The site, called TwiThinks, is currently tracking how many times each candidate is mentioned on each day in each state, what topics people are tweeting about when they mention a candidate, the latest election news from Twitter users, and nation-wide publicity for each candidate. Approximately 10 million American Twitter users are included in the analysis.

Making Better Sense of Medical Records

New research out of CSAIL’s Clinical Decision Making Group should make it easier and more efficient for computers to parse electronic medical records. In a new paper to be presented at the American Medical Informatics Association’s (AMIA) annual symposium next week, researchers will explain a new system they have developed for disambiguating the meaning of words used in clinical notes written by doctors and nurses. At present, it is difficult for computer systems to analyze electronic medical records as many medical terms can have multiple meanings.

CSAIL & QCRI Announce New Research Collaboration

October 21, 2012- The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), a member of the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), today announced a new joint research program aimed at advancing the field of computer science. The announcement was made during a signing ceremony as part of the Joint Qatar Foundation Annual Research Forum and Arab Expatriate Scientists Network Symposium 2012.

Weitzner Honored for Work With Online Privacy

CSAIL Principal Research Scientist Daniel Weitzner has been named to the 2012 Newsweek Daily Beast Digital Power Index. Weitzner was honored for his work as Deputy Chief Technology Officer for the White House from 2011 through 2012, in particular for his work with online privacy.

"A little more than a year into his current job at the White House, Weitzner is best known as one of the most prominent spokespersons for the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights," wrote Newsweek and the Daily Beast of Weitzner's work.

CSAIL Launches New Center To Tackle Future of Wireless and Mobile Technologies

Contact: Abby Abazorius,
MIT Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL)
T. 617.324.9135;


The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) today inaugurated a new interdisciplinary center dedicated to developing the next generation of wireless networks and mobile devices. Headquartered at CSAIL and known as Wireless@MIT, the Center will be a focal point for wireless research at MIT and will address some of the most important challenges facing the wireless and mobile computing fields.

Rivest Named to Cyber Security Hall of Fame

Ronald Rivest, the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Computer Science in the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a principal investigator at CSAIL, has been named to the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame. Rivest is honored for his work developing the RSA algorithm, a method for public-key cryptography, along with Professors Adi Shamir and Len Adleman.

Rivest, Shamir and Adleman are credited with developing the RSA algorithm, an encryption method that operates through key generation, encryption and decryption, and is widely credited with having a significant impact on ecommerce.

CSAIL Researchers Unveil New Automatic Mapping System

Disaster response efforts may be getting a little bit safer, thanks to new CSAIL research. In a new paper by CSAIL research scientist Maurice Fallon, Professor John Leonard, Professor Seth Teller, and CSAIL graduate students Hordur Johannsson and Jonathan Brookshire, a new method for tracking movement inside a building is detailed.

The new system involves a wearable sensor that is able to automatically create a map of the environment through which the wearer is moving. The system also includes a pushbutton for tagging certain features on the map, such as points of interest or structural problems in an emergency situation.

CSAIL Members Invited to Yoga Classes

Research shows that the benefits of yoga include decreased stress and tension, increased strength and balance, increased flexibility and lowered blood pressure.

CSAIL members are invited to attend community yoga on Tuesdays at 5:15 PM in the Hewlett Room, 32-G882. The first block of classes will be offered on Oct. 2nd, 16th, 23rd and 30th. Space is limited, so please arrive early. Bring your yoga mat if you have one. If you do not have a yoga mat, there will be yoga mats available for use.

Space is limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.


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