Tag Archive for mathematics and computer science

Leidy Receives NIH Grant for Knot Theory Project

Constance Leidy, assistant professor of mathematics, received a grant for $130,436 from the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematics Science on Sept. 9. The grant will support a project titled “Non-commutative Techniques in Knot Theory” through August 2014.

Open-Source Software Group Designs Humanitarian Projects

Gabriel Elkind '14 speaks about a graphical software used for forest ecology simulation during the HFOSS Project 2011 Summer Institute final presentations on July 22.

This summer, 26 students representing six colleges and universities in the Northeast participated in the
Humanitarian Free and Open-Source Software (HFOSS) Project 2011 Summer Institute, hosted by Wesleyan.

Wesleyan is part of a growing community involved in The Humanitarian FOSS Project, dedicated to building and using free and open source software to benefit humanity.

Trinity's HFOSS director Trishan DeLanerolle and Wesleyan's HFOSS director Norman Danner, associate professor of computer science, listen to the students' presentations.

Students from Wesleyan, Connecticut College, Trinity, St. John’s College, Mt. Holyoke College, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute participated in the summer institute and designed 11 projects for HFOSS. They presented their research July 22 in Woodhead Lounge.

Diego Calderon ’13, Jeremy Fehr ’13 and Trinity student Vlad Burca worked on a project called “Tor Status,” a support application for the Tor network, a tool that allows for anonymous web access. Tor Status allows users to see general information about the entire network at a glance, as well as get detailed information on any specific server in the network.

Brian Gapinski ’14 and Gabriel Elkind ’14 worked on a project titled “Landis/LIME.” Landis is forest ecology simulation software developed and used by academic researchers, the U.S. Forest Service, land-user managers and others. LIME is a graphical front-end to Landis, making it much easier to use for individuals who might be less comfortable with programming tasks.

Diego Calderon '13 and Trinity student Vlad Burca speak about their HFOSS project, "Tor Status," a tool which prevents anyone from learning a user's online browsing habits. (Photos by Bill Tyner '13)

Calderon, Gehr, Burca, Gapinski and Elkind also worked on a content management system-based “HFOSS@Wesleyan” web site. Norman Danner, associate professor of computer science, is project advisor and director of the summer institute.

Wesleyan is a founding chapter of the HFOSS Project, along with Trinity College and Connecticut College. The HFOSS Project is funded by the National Science Foundation.

To view a list of former Wesleyan HFOSS projects, click here.

Ruberg ’12, Vitale ’11, Wagner ’12 Create Software for Human Rights Workers

Computer science majors Jeff Ruberg ’12, Michael Vitale ’11 and Katie Wagner ’12 participated in the Humanitarian Fee and Open Source Software Project summer internship program.

For their project, they worked on software that is part of the Tor network. Tor is software that allows users to browse the web anonymously, and is used by human rights workers, individuals in repressive regimes, and people who just don’t want corporations tracking their on-line movements. It is implemented as a world-wide network of “relays” that are run by volunteers on anything ranging from academic servers to home computers.

Ruberg, Vitale and Wagner completely re-designed and re-implemented Tor Weather, an application that allows Tor relay operators to sign up to be notified of important events on their relays. Their software has now gone live, and is an important component of the Tor Project.

“Congratulations to these students on a  job well-done and on writing software that is helping to make a difference in people’s lives,” says Norman Danner, associate professor of computer science.

5 Questions With . . . Computer Science’s Eric Aaron

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This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science. His article, “Action Selection and Task Sequence Learning for Hybrid Dynamical Cognitive Agents,” was recently published in Robotics and Autonomous Systems. Aaron has a bachelor of arts in math from Princeton University; a master of science and Ph.D in computer science from Cornell University.

Eric Aaron, assistant professor of computer science, is an expert on artificial intelligence, intelligent robotics, hybrid systems and computational intelligence modeling.

Q: How did you become interested in computer science, and specifically artificial intelligence?

A: I’ve always been interested in logical problem solving and how people think. As an undergraduate, I majored in mathematics and took courses in psychology and philosophy, but each of those was only a part of the big picture that really interested me. As I studied more, I found that computer science, and especially artificial intelligence (AI), incorporated parts of all of these perspectives in a single, mind-openingly fascinating and mind-blowingly enormous area of study.

Taylor, Bonfert-Taylor, Bodznick Awarded NSF Grant

Edward Taylor, associate professor of mathematics; Petra Bonfert-Taylor, associate professor of mathematics; and David Bodznick, dean of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, professor of biology, professor of neuroscience and behavior, received a grant worth $199,924 from the National Science Foundation for their “Collaborative Research: Analytic and Geometric Methods in Limited Angle Tomosunthesis.” The grant expires Aug. 27, 2011.

HFOSS Software Featured in Chronicle of Higher Education

Sam DeFabbia-Kane ’11 and Eli Fox-Epstein ’11 interned on the Humanitarian Free Open Source Software 2009 project creating "Collabbit," software that makes communication in disasters easier for relief organizations.

The Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) project was featured in the Aug. 1 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education in an article titled “In Emergencies, Aid Agencies Turn to a College-Created Software Program.”

The article focuses on an emergency-management program called Collabbit. Collabbit is a continuing effort involving undergraduates and computer science faculty at Wesleyan and Trinity College.

The software tool helps coordinate large numbers of people and supplies involved in responding to disasters like blackouts and flooding.

This is by far the largest project of any kind that I’ve worked on,” Samuel DeFabbia-Kane’11 says in the article. “The developers are seeking to add new features, like the ability to generate a summary of relief efforts after an event, or to allow users to post updates from ordinary cellphones—not just smartphones—by sending a text message.”

HFOSS’s Collabbit also was featured in an Aug. 25 issue of New York’s Messenger Post in an article titled “Making Disaster Communication Easier.”

Students Present Open Source Software at Summer Institute

Standing, Norman Danner, associate professor of computer science, speaks to students from Bergen Community College about privacy issues in medical records during the 2010 Humanitarian Free and Open Source Software (HFOSS) Project Summer Institutes Workshop July 30. The group is developing a mobile application for use by EMS personnel for recording medical data when on calls.

Knot Workshop at Wesleyan

Mathematicians from around the country participated in a “Knot Concordance and Homology Cobordism” workshop July 19-23 at Wesleyan.

Tim Cochran, professor of mathematics at Rice University, lectured at the workshop.

Knot theory experts Matt Hedden, associate professor of geometry/topology at Michigan State University, speaks with Daniel Ruberman BA/MA ’77, professor of mathematics at Brandeis University, during the workshop.

Shelly Harvey, assistant professor of mathematics at Rice University, is an expert on knot concordance. The conference was funded by an $18,900 grant from the National Science Foundation. The event also was supported by the Mathematics and Computer Science Department’s Van Vleck Research Fund.

Specter ’11 Awarded Goldwater Scholarship

Joel Specter '11 received a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2010-11 year.

Mathematics major Joel Specter ’11 is ahead of the program. Despite only finishing his junior year at Wesleyan, he’s already completed all first-year graduate courses for the department’s Ph.D. program.

“When discussing mathematics with him it becomes clear that he is already thinking like a mathematician in a very serious way that one rarely sees in students until well into their graduate careers,” says Specter’s advisor David Pollack, associate professor of mathematics.

For Specter’s achievements in mathematics, he was awarded with a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for the 2010-11 year.

Congress established

NSF Grant Improves Numerical Modeling Capacity at Wesleyan

Francis Starr, associate professor of physics, co-authored a grant proposal, which was recently funded by the NSF to support growth of the computer facilities for the university’s Scientific Computing and Informatics Center.

A $298,736 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) will allow Wesleyan to remain competitive in numerical modeling research and education on an international level.

Francis Starr, associate professor of physics, David Beveridge, the Joshua Boger University Professor of the Sciences and Mathematics, and Michael Weir, professor of biology, director of the Hughes Program in the Life Sciences, received the grant for a project titled “Major Research Instrumentation – Recovery and Reinvestment program (MRI-R2): Acquisition of Shared Cluster and Database Computing Facilities at Wesleyan University.”

The grant, awarded over three years beginning May 1, will fund growth of the computer facilities for the university’s Scientific Computing and Informatics Center (SCIC), including expansion of the university’s high-performance computer cluster and a new genomics database server.

Wesleyan currently runs 36 Dell computer nodes for the academic computing cluster known as “Swallowtail.” Each machine is capable of processing eight jobs simultaneously, for a total of 288 jobs. Another 129 computer nodes called “Sharptail,” recently donated by Blue Sky Studios, are capable of processing two jobs simultaneously each, for a total of 258 jobs.

“With the NSF grant, we anticipate roughly doubling our capacity,” Starr says. “Think of it as setting up a virtual laboratory in the computer where we can perform experiments that might be challenging

Computer Science Majors Participate in Poster Competition

Computer Science students Sam DeFabbia-Kane ’11, Juan Pablo Mendoza ’10, and Foster Nichols ’10 all presented posters on their current research at this year’s regional conference of the Consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges, which was held at the University of Hartford April 16-17. DeFabbia-Kane won third place in the poster competition.