BUCAN Newsletter for Winter 2011
alumni, students, and friends,
We have quite a bit of news to share with you since our last newsletter!
BU alumnus and trustee, Bahaa Hariri has pledged a $15 million gift to endow a new interdisciplinary institute for computing research at BU. Azer Bestavros will serve as the Institute's founding Director. This is an important moment in our department's (and indeed our university's) history. We are grateful to Bahaa Hariri for this very generous gift that will catalyze the future of interdisciplinary computational research at BU.
It has been a watershed year for new research funding in our department. Over $9 million in new grants were awarded to support a wide range of research, in secure cloud computing, mobile programmable devices, secure internet routing, high-performance computing, softphone security, computer vision, theory of computing, etc. A substantial part of this funding will support engagement of BU graduate and undergraduate students in cutting edge research.
As you will also see later in this newsletter, our students and faculty have received an impressive number of awards, prizes, and fellowships during the past year. For instance, Leonid Levin was awarded a Humboldt Research Award. The strength of our faculty, students, and alumni is also reflected in our department's continued growth in stature. The National Research Council (NRC) assessment of PhD research programs showed dramatic improvement in our departmental ranking: BU CS moved up a whole quartile in the NRC rankings since the last assessment in 1993.
There has also been significant innovation in our CS curriculum during the past year. Sharon Goldberg taught a seminar on the latest issues in Network Security. Mark Crovella offered a revamped object oriented programming course that engaged students in programming mobile phones. This spring, Rich West will teach a course that involves "programming physical objects" with Arduino, and Jonathan Appavoo will launch a new course in distributed systems.
There was also one item of sad news. James (Jim) Devlin, who served as a lecturer in our department and the Core Curriculum, died in November. Jim developed and taught two programming courses in our department, CS 211 and 212. Students gave Jim's CS courses rave reviews and continue to cite the importance these courses have had in launching their careers. Jim's legacy lives on.
With best wishes for a happy and fulfilling 2011,
Stan Sclaroff, Chair
When applied to almost every discipline, computational thinking promises a profound impact on our society's ability to generate and apply new knowledge. Computational approaches are already producing paradigm shifts in our understanding of a wide range of science and engineering phenomena, and are resulting in socio-technical innovations that create new wealth and enhance society's quality of life. Recognizing its transformative potential, Boston University trustee Bahaa Hariri (SMG'90) has pledged $15 million for an institute that will help create and sustain a community of scholars who believe in the transformative potential of computational perspectives in research and education. The center's affiliated faculty will collaborate on research and educational initiatives targeting four broad application-centric clusters: biology and medicine; physical science and engineering; social and management sciences; and the arts, communication, and education.
"The Institute, to be operating by next fall, will not only propel discovery and innovation through the use of state-of-the-art computational approaches, but also it will catalyze advances in the science of computing inspired by challenges from a multitude of disciplines," says Professor Azer Bestavros, the institute's founding director. "The point here is to put together highly motivated, like-minded teams of scientists from different disciplines who believe in the transformative potential of adopting computational perspectives in research and education, so that they can leverage each other's expertise to make progress in solving a major complex problem".
"I am excited about the impact that the Institute can make on neuroscience research at BU" says Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, Professor of Biomedical Engineering. "New advances in understanding how the tens of billions of neurons making up the human brain encode information will require interdisciplinary research teams that include computer scientists, mathematicians, and modelers to work hand in hand alongside neuroscientists."
In a BU Today article announcing the gift President Robert A. Brown said "We are extremely grateful for Bahaa Hariri's visionary commitment in creating this institute at the nexus of modern computing and a range of critical applications," adding that "Boston University has tremendous faculty and research activities in these areas and the creation of the institute will build the foundation for new interdisciplinary collaborations across these boundaries."
"Supporting great research universities is an act of faith and a resilient commitment to contribute positively to the well-being of societies," says Hariri, who has been a trustee of Boston University since 2004.
Matthew Boggie (CAS'99) accepted his 2010 BU/CS Distinguished Alumnus Award on May 16, 2010, after delivering a inspiring convocation address entitled "One More Lesson" to the class of 2010. In his comments, Matt noted that "it's a common theme in commencement remarks to encourage people to go out in the world and find themselves. This always struck me as a little passive: as though your true calling was a lost umbrella, and if you just hunted enough you might find it. The truth of the matter is that you, now, have the opportunity to *create* yourself. You've gathered the tools you need here to do nearly anything, and you're at a point when you have nothing but time ahead of you to explore. Try some things out. Play in a band. Write a novel. Join a kickball team. Learn to bake. You never know what you're going to find that you like to do. And this goes both ways - you may discover something you always thought you'd love, but end up finding hopelessly boring. This is where the best part of being a computer scientist comes into play: the skills you've learned can be applied to almost any field. All you need to do now is find what excites you most, and use your skills to support it, and make it better." He then added: "Take the chances that come to you, and remember - while we call today "Commencement" it's really neither the beginning of anything, or the ending of anything either. You're a life long learner, and today is simply one more lesson."
Matthew Boggie is a Media and Technology Strategist, at The New York Times.
Before that he was a Senior Manager at Accenture Ltd. -- a management
consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. In addition to
working on both strategic and technical projects for major broadcast and
publishing companies, including a custom-built system that managed PBS'
programming content, he has published points of view on the future of the
digital content industry and was interviewed on these topics by both
industry magazines and international news agencies.
Also, check the pictures from the 2010 Convocation for Computer Science. Congrats class of 2010!
Hearty congratulations are in order to our students and faculty for the many research achievements and recognitions that they garnered in the past year.
Congratulations to all!
It was a banner 2010summer! CS Faculty members secured over $9 million of research funding in support of a variety of projects in the CS Department -- many of which feature large collaborative efforts spanning multiple Departments and Institutions (with total funding in excess of $30 million). The following are the headlines (and links) to stories published in various outlets announcing some of these awards.
A Bostonia Magazine article featured the research of CS Professor Evimaria Terzi in which she proposed a computable privacy score -- "a metric that could be used to compare a person's information exposure with that of other users on a network or with the person's exposures on different networks." This research, which was conducted in collaboration with her former IBM colleague Kun Liu, underscores the risks that social networking users are taking with respect to their privacy. Commenting on the implication of her work, Evimaria noted that information that most people consider perfectly safe for sharing can be combined and mined to reveal things that few people want others to know. As to why social networking users are keen on sharing such information, she notes that the compulsive sharing she sees reflects the Internet's narcotic power to induce its users to "undress, metaphorically, online." Social networking users need to "learn not to share".
Evimaria works on algorithmic data mining with emphasis on social-network analysis, analysis of sequential data, ranking, and clustering. Her research was recognized earlier this year, when she was one of a handful of junior faculty members world-wide to be awarded the prestigious Microsoft Faculty Research Fellowship for 2010.
The CS Distinguished Lectureship Series featured Prof. Eva Tardos as its speaker for Fall 2010.
Eva Tardos is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Computer Science at Cornell University, and was department chair from 2006 to 2010. Tardos won the Fulkerson Prize, awarded jointly by the Mathematical Programming Society and the American Mathematical Society, and the Dantzig prize awarded jointly by Mathematical Programming Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. She was awarded a number of research fellowships (among others Alfred P. Sloan, a NSF Presidential Young Investigator, Packard Foundation, Guggenheim). She is an ACM Fellow, INFORMS fellow, and SIAM fellow, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Tardos' research interest is algorithms and algorithmic game theory.
The topic of Eva's lecture, which was held on October 18, was on the nexus of learning and game theory. In her talked she showed how earning behavior can avoid bad outcomes predicted by the price of anarchy in atomic network games such as the load-balancing game. Network games play a fundamental role in understanding behavior in many domains, ranging from communication networks through markets to social networks. Such networks are used, and also evolve due to selfish behavior of the users and owners.
The 2010 edition of Boston University's Research Magazine included an article featuring Mark Crovella's research on Internet measurement and its use in identifying anomalous traffic patterns that could be indicative of security breaches. Rather than attempt to define the properties of unwanted traffic, the strategy that Mark and his collaborators employ is to characterize what "normal" Internet usage looks like. Then, using statistical techniques, it is possible to capture and analyze anonymous traffic information at five-minute intervals as the data flows through thousands of routers around the world to identify anomalous patterns, which could serve as an early warning system. Such a technique -- based on Principal Component Analysis and licensed to Guavus, a venture-backed bi-national company led by one of Mark's former PhD students, Anukool Lakhina (PhD 2006) -- is now being used by GEANT, Europe's main multi-gigabit computer network for research and academic purposes.
Mark Crovella's "contributions to the measurement and analysis of networks and distributed systems research" was recognized recently when he was one of 41 researchers worldwide named as 2010 Fellows of the ACM -- the main professional organization for Computer Scientists.
It is now time to solicit nominations for the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award. All alumni are invited to submit nominations. Nominations will be accepted via email sent firstname.lastname@example.org. A nomination must include current contact information for both the nominator and nominee, and a short (1-2 paragraph) justification. Self nominations are welcome.
The CS Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2008 to recognize a CS alumnus or alumna who has excelled in his or her professional career.Rebecca Norlander received this award in 2008, Manuela Veloso received this award in 2009, and as mentioned earlier in this newsletter, Matt Boggie received this award in 2010.
For more information, check theCS Distinguished Alumni Award Web site.
LinkedIn has emerged as the de-facto social-networking tool for connecting professionals. To help you connect or reconnect with members of the BU/CS community, and in addition to its presence on Facebook, BUCAN is now a LinkedIn Group, which you can join at http://www.linkedin.com/e/vgh/2853567.
Join us now (and spread the word!)
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