Improving Algorithmic Thinking in 10 minutes

Professor Thomas Cormen posted an answer to the following question on the social media site quora.com: "What can I learn right now in just 10 minutes that could improve my algorithmic thinking?" His answer has received over a thousand "upvotes" and has since been featured on Forbes.com. And so, what can one learn in 10 minutes to improve one's algorithmic thinking? Answer by Thomas Cormen:

It's pretty hard to answer that question without knowing what you already know.  If I had to give just one thing, that thing would be loop invariants.  Understand that when you write a loop, you either implicitly or explicitly use a loop invariant.

A loop invariant is a predicate (a statement that is either true or false) with the following properties:

Screens Talking to Cameras without You Knowing it

Graduate students Tianxing Li, Chuankai An, and Professors Andrew Campbell and Xia Zhou are awarded the Best Paper Award at ACM VLCS'14 for their work on advancing screen-to-camera communication.

We are all familiar with QRCodes: a coded image shown on the screen (e.g., smartphone screens, TVs), which can then be captured by a phone camera and translated into data.

The new system called HiLight removes the need of showing any coded images like QRCode while still enabling data transmissions between screens and cameras. HiLight encodes data into pixel color intensity changes, which human eyes cannot see yet cameras can.

By creating such a hidden communication channel, HiLight opens up new opportunities for smart devices (e.g., smartphones, smart glass) to interact with each other, enabling new interaction design and context-aware applications.

Check out HiLight, other projects and research opportunities in the newly formed DartNets Lab co-directed by Professors Xia Zhou and Andrew Campbell.


"Information Security War Room" at USENIX Security

Sergey Bratus and Felix 'FX' Lindner delivered a joint invited talk at this year's USENIX Security Conference. This premier conference brings together attendees from academia, industry, and government.

The talk entitled "Information Security War Room" examined the state of IT security, the implications of the ongoing computer insecurity epidemic for national security and "cyberwarfare", the current misguided attempts of various governments to regulate research into computer attacks, and the strategic options the computer security community has left to revert the current trend of ubiquitous insecurity, and to make practical progress towards computers we could finally trust.

The talk received considerable attention; slides posted online got over 30,000 download requests to date.

Felix and Sergey also co-chaired the 8th USENIX Workshop on Offensive Technologies, at which a range of research projects was presented, from the Internet routing backbone and US highway traffic control infrastructure to security concerns in mobile phones and embedded devices such as computer mice, thumb drives, and other peripheral devices.

CS students phone in their feelings

Much of the stress and strain of student life remains hidden. The StudentLife study led by Professor Andrew Campbell built a smartphone sensing app that 48 computer science students used over 10 weeks of the spring term 2013. It revealed a number of interesting findings.  Researchers found that objective sensing data from the students' phones significantly correlated with academic performance and mental-health, such as, grades, GPA, stress, loneliness, depression and flourishing.

The study captured behavioral trends across the Dartmouth term. For example, students returned from spring break feeling good about themselves, relaxed (i.e., low stress levels), sleeping well and going to the gym regularly. That all changed once the Dartmouth term picked up speed toward midterm and finals, as shown in the plot.

Lorenzo Torresani wins the Google Faculty Research Award

Our own Lorenzo Torresani has won the Google Faculty Research Award. Dr. Torresani aims to use deep learning (i.e., learning of deep networks) to discover compact representations of video that work well for classifying human pose dynamics.

Dr. Torresani proposed to learn semantic primitives to represent human actions in video. The primitives are learned by training deep convolutional neural networks to classify different human pose dynamics. Such learned representation promises to significantly improve the accuracy of video understanding applications, including action recognition, semantic segmentation of video, as well as search and retrieval.

The technical novelty of the approach is twofold:

Three new faculty joining CS

Three new faculty members are joining the Computer Science department--Emily Whiting, Wojciech Jarosz, and Qiang Liu. Emily Whiting will be on campus starting this coming Fall 2014, and Wojciech Jarosz and Qiang Liu will join us in the Fall of 2015.

Emily Whiting completed her postdoctoral training at ETH Zurich, prior to which she received both M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees from MIT. Her research interests include architectural geometry, masonry structures, procedural modeling, computer-aided design, and 3D fabrication.

Wojciech Jarosz comes to us via Disney Research, Zürich, where he has been a Senior Research Scientist. His work has aimed to understand "why things look the way they do," how interaction between light and objects can be simulated efficiently, and how physical objects can be created with control over their appearance.

Prof. Bratus Tackles Ubiquitous Internet Insecurity

Dartmouth’s Sergey Bratus is on a mission to protect the Internet from cyber attacks and other criminal enterprises. It’s a big job.

Among his concerns about what he calls the “ubiquitous Internet insecurity” are credit card and identity theft and other misuses of the information highway. “We also hear reports of Internet infringement by repressive regimes targeting computers and smartphones of dissidents and protesters across the world,” says Bratus, a research assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science.

Read full Dartmouth Now article

Drs. Zhou and Campbell win Google Faculty Research Award

Prof. Xia Zhou and Prof. Andrew Campbell won Google Faculty Research Award (http://research.google.com/university/relations/research_awards.html) for their work on boosting Wi-Fi energy efficiency for smart devices. Their proposed work centers on a simple yet highly effective architectural change to today’s smart devices, which holds the potential to achieve significant energy saving while maximizing Wi-Fi connectivity.

Learn more about the work of Dr. Zhou and Dr. Campbell and other research in the department.

Chip Elliott Named ACM Fellow

Congratulations to Chip Elliott, an adjunct professor of Computer Science, for being named a 2013 ACM Fellow! The Association for Computing Machinery's most prestigious member grade recognizes the top 1% of ACM members for their outstanding accomplishments in computing and information technology and/or outstanding service to ACM and the larger computing community. Chip was selected "for scientific contributions enabling quantum communications, advanced tactical networks, and programming literacy." Read more at the ACM Fellows site

“The Grassy Knoll Revisited” Probes Chaos of JFK’s Death

Dennis Grady can still remember his teachers freaking out and recall coming home to his distraught parents on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.

“It occurred to me the people who are students now were about that age when 9/11 happened,” says Grady, exhibits designer with Dartmouth Library Education & Outreach. “Everything you assumed about the way the world worked was turned upside down.”

Grady samples this raw, destabilizing uncertainty in “The Grassy Knoll Revisited: On the Anniversary of the Assassination of JFK,” an exhibition drawn from the holdings of Baker-Berry Library and Rauner Special Collections Library.

“On November 22, 1963, at 12:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, by Lee Harvey Oswald/anti-Castro Cubans/the Mafia/the CIA/the FBI/the Secret Service/the KGB/LBJ,” writes Grady in his introduction to the exhibition.