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

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Matusik Named DARPA Young Faculty Award Winner

Wojciech Matusik, an associate professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and a principal investigator at CSAIL, has been named a recipient of the 2012 DARPA Young Faculty Award. Matusik, a member of the Computer Graphics Group at CSAIL, is currently focusing his research on direct digital manufacturing and computer graphics, in particular modeling and physical reproduction of materials, computational photography, and novel display systems.

Prior to joining MIT, Matusik worked at Mitsubishi Electric Research Laboratories, Adobe Systems, and Disney Research Zurich.

'Seraph' Featured in Robot Film Festival

Last summer CSAIL Director Daniela Rus teamed up with modern dance company Pilobolus to create a new piece that tells the tale of an unusual friendship forged between man and machine. The resulting work, "Seraph," featured quad-rotors developed in Rus' Distributed Robotics Lab at CSAIL performing with dancers from Pilobolus to a Schubert piano trio.

Seraph has been selected as a featured film in the upcoming Robot Film Festival, taking place next Saturday, July 14 in New York City.

For more information on the Robot Film Festival, check out:

Leonard’s Work Featured on Bloomberg TV

Bloomberg TV featured the work of John Leonard, a professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering and a principal investigator at CSAIL, in a new piece focused on the future of robotics. During a visit to CSAIL, Bloomberg's Matt Miller spoke with Leonard about his work with robotic mapping and navigation, in particular his research focused on enabling the PR2 to navigate the Stata Center.

The piece focused on how robots are becoming more and more useful for humans everyday life. "I certainly believe that robots can make the world a better place," said Leonard.

Check out the full video below.

Happy birthday, Alan Turing! A tribute...

Today, June 23, would mark the 100th birthday of Alan Turing, who is often touted as the father of computer science.

His Turing machine was an early predecessor to the computer, and laid the foundation for concepts like 'computation' and 'algorithms.'

He is also the namesake for the Association for Computing Machinery's prestigious A.M. Turing Award, which is considered by many to be the equivalent of the Nobel prize for technology.

CSAIL researchers, past and present, who have received the Turing Award include:

Marvin Minsky (1969)

Brooks’ New Company Changes Name to Rethink Robotics, Inc.

Heartland Robotics, the latest robotics company from former CSAIL Director Rodney Brooks, has announced that it is changing its name to Rethink Robotics, Inc.

Brooks is the Panasonic Professor of Robotics (emeritus) at MIT, and the co-founder of iRobot. He served as the director of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab and then CSAIL from 1997-2007.

Rethink Robotics will be dedicated to developing a new generation of robots that will aid in improving productivity in manufacturing environments. According to Rethink Robotics President and CEO Scott Eckert, the company is committed to maintaining manufacturing jobs in America.

Arvind Honored with Harry H. Goode Memorial Award

Arvind, the Johnson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and a principal investigator at CSAIL, has been named the recipient of the IEEE Computer Society's Harry H. Goode Memorial Award. Arvind was honored for his, "fundamental contributions to research in dataflow computing, memory models, and cache coherence protocols."

The Goode Award was established to recognize achievement in the information-processing field-either a single contribution of theory, design, or technique of outstanding significance; or the accumulation of important contributions on theory or practice over an extended period.

Enabling Better Human-Robot Coordination

Julie Shah, the Boeing Career Development Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and a principal investigator at CSAIL, is looking to enable more human-robot coordination on the factory floor. Today robots and humans are strictly segregated in an effort ensure safety, but Shah believes that by developing better planning tools for robots, humans and robots should be able to work together to increase efficiency.

Celebrating CSAIL’s Graduates

On Friday, June 8th, the Institute will hold its 146th commencement ceremony. We here at CSAIL would like to join the speaker, Salman Khan, in wishing our graduates luck on the next leg of their journey. The CSAIL students matriculating in both Masters and PhD programs are listed below; congratulations, and best wishes for an exciting future!

Yeuhi Abe
Amelia Arbisser
Michael Bernstein
Anshul Bhagi
Arnab Bhattacharyya
Mario Bollini
Satchuthananthavale Branavan

6.141 Students Showcase Robotics Skills

Students in 6.141, Robotics: Science and Systems I recently wrapped up the semester with an afternoon full of robotics demonstrations. Students showcased the robots they had built to autonomously navigate a maze, collect and pick up blocks, and build a structure.

Check out the video below of highlights from the 6.141 robotics demonstrations.

Video by Tom Buehler, CSAIL

Daskalakis Wins Microsoft Faculty Fellowship

Constantinos Daskalakis, X-Window Consortium Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and a principal investigator at CSAIL, has been named a 2012 Microsoft Research Faculty Fellow. Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship grants are awarded to promising young researchers around the world in recognition of their groundbreaking, high-impact work that has the potential to help solve some of today's most challenging social problems.

Rus Named CSAIL Director

Daniela Rus, a professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been named the next director of CSAIL, effective May 23.

Rus succeeds Anant Agarwal, who was recently named president of edX, an online learning initiative of MIT and Harvard University. Rus served as associate director of CSAIL from 2008 to 2011, and has been co-director of CSAIL's Center for Robotics since 2005. She also directs CSAIL's Distributed Robotics Laboratory. Rus is the first woman to serve as director of CSAIL.

Tedrake Receives Tenure

The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science has announced that Russ Tedrake has been promoted to the role of associate professor with tenure, effective July 1, 2012. Tedrake is the X Consortium Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and leads the Robot Locomotion Group at CSAIL.

Turing Award Winner Valiant Speaks at CSAIL

Turing Award winner and Harvard University Professor Leslie Valiant spoke at CSAIL last week as part of the lab's Dertouzos Lecturer Series. Valiant discussed his work with, "A Computational Theory of Cortex and Hippocampus."

During his talk, Valiant explained his work applying computer science to understanding the inner workings of the human brain, in particular how the brain stores new information. After years of research on this topic, Valiant proposed the "Hippocampus as the stable memory allocator for the cortex."

Faster Fourier Transform Named One of World’s Most Important Emerging Technologies

Earlier this year, Professors and CSAIL Principal Investigators Piotr Indyk and Dina Katabi, along with CSAIL graduate students Haitham Hassanieh and Eric Price, announced that they had improved upon the Fourier transform, an algorithm for processing streams of data. Their new algorithm, called the sparse Fourier transform (SFT), has been named to MIT Technology Review's 2012 list of the world's 10 most important emerging technologies.

With the SFT algorithm, streams of data can be processed 10 to 100 times faster than was possible before, allowing for a speedier and more efficient digital world.

Abelson Honored as Outstanding Educator

Hal Abelson has been honored by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) with the Karl V. Karlstom Outstanding Educator Award for his contributions to computer science education. Abelson is the Class of 1922 Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, a principal investigator at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and co-chair of the MIT Council on Educational Technology.

For Abelson, being honored for his work as an educator is a crowning achievement.

Agarwal's Dreams for Online Education

Professor Anant Agarwal, director of CSAIL and head of MIT's Open Learning Enterprise, is looking to not only democratize access to education, but also reinvent the very nature of how people learn.

"I want to disrupt how education is done," Agarwal said in a new profile of his work on MIT News.

Agarwal is currently working on developing new online learning tools that he hopes will fundamentally change the way people learn. Through MITx, MIT's new online learning initiative, and the first prototype course 6.002x Circuits and Electronics, Agarwal has been researching and developing new ways for people to learn online.

Three CSAIL Members Elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

CSAIL Principal Investigators Arvind, Bonnie Berger and Frans Kaashoek have been elected as new members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

One of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, the Academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to Academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and American institutions, the humanities and culture, and education.

Lo Named as One of ‘Most Influential People’ by Time

Andrew Lo, the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management and a principal investigator at CSAIL, has been named one of 2012's "The 100 Most Influential People in the World" by Time magazine.

Lo is honored for his "adaptive markets" theory, and his belief that "markets are less like rule-based physics and more like messy biological systems," wrote Time.


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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