Thursday, April 24, 2008

Environmental Monitoring Team Engineering Project is Complete!

Jacobs School students are working on many different team engineering projects for nonprofit community clients in San Diego. One project that recently wrapped up is a solar powered environmental monitoring system. It floats in a reclaimed water body (is it a pond or a lake or a wetland? any thoughts?) that is part of Lakeside's River Park Conservancy's project to restore the San Diego River. The floating solar panel contraption in the photo above the monitor. It has sensors down in the water that collects all kinds of information. This info gets sent wirelessly to a the conservancy's computer system on dry land, where staff and volunteers can monitor the quality of the water as time goes on.

You can check out the student's final presentation here (it's a PPT file).

You can check out their Web site here.
This is part of TIES (Teams in Engineering Service) program in which undergrads work together on real projects. It's great experience. It's good for the community. It's service learning. And it can help you snag a job. I ran into one of the TIES members at the big undergrad job fair here at the Jacobs School (DECaF). He'd just had an interview with an environmental monitoring company that was interested in him, especially because of his real-world experience with the TIES environmental monitoring program.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

InP Nanowire / Polymer Hybrid Photodiode

I'm working on a press release for a recent NanoLetters paper from electrical engineers here at the Jacobs School. They created a photodiode (think photovoltaic) in which nanowires grown directly on a metal are submerged by a conducting polymer. When light hits the polymer, electrons and holes are split. The electrons make their way to the nanowires, and the nanowires shuttle the electrons down to the electrode. This design is more efficient than polymer photodiodes that don't contain nanowires.

More soon.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Undergrads Publishing in Genome Research

Liz Kain and Ian Kerman are two of the UCSD undergrads from the bioinformatics program who have a paper accepted in Genome Research. The paper is embargoed and I'm working on a press release now, but if you want the inside scoop, contact me. It's a hot paper and a great example of undergrads doing cutting edge research along side world-renowned professors and top-notch grad students.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

UCSD cloud computing project named 1 of "25 radical network research projects you should know about"

NetworkWorld just came out with a "25 radical network research projects you should know about" list. The bandwidth control in the clouds research project from UC San Diego's computer science department made the list.

UPDATE APRIL 21: this story made it to Slashdot:

Coolest University Tech Lab Projects in the Works
from the tuition-begets-intuition dept.
posted by timothy on Sunday April 20, @01:10 (Education)

Here is the main idea of the award winning paper:

If half your company’s bandwidth is allocated to your mirror in New York, and it’s the middle of the night there, and your sites in London and Tokyo are slammed, that New York bandwidth is going to waste. UC San Diego computer scientists have designed, implemented, and evaluated a new bandwidth management system for cloud-based applications capable of solving this problem.

The UCSD algorithm enables distributed rate limiters to work together to enforce global bandwidth rate limits, and dynamically shift bandwidth allocations across multiple sites or networks, according to current network demand. "

The UCSD computer scientists presented this work at the premeir networking conference last year, SIGCOMM 2007, where it won the 2007 SIGCOMM best student paper award – the top prize at the conference. (Congrats to Barath Raghavan)

Read the full press release here.

Paper citation: "Cloud Control with Distributed Rate Limiting," by B. Raghavan, K. Vishwanath, S. Rambhadran, K. Yocum, and A. C. Snoeren," in Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Conference(SIGCOMM '07), Kyoto, Japan, August 2007.

Funder: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Here is a picture of Barath Raghavan, the UCSD computer science PhD student "looking to the computing clouds."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Computer graphics fog and smoke machine

The light piercing the fog in the top image is smooth, realistic and computationally light-weight. Why? Because UC San Diego computer scientists have figured out a way to take the super-realistic-but-computationally-taxing "photon mapping" approach and put it on a computational diet. The result? A more efficient way to get extremely life like computer generated images, especially of scenes where light is passing through fog, smoke, dust or other "participating media."

The bottom image was created using the conventional photon mapping approach, but given the same computational "budget." You can get the same high quality image using the conventional approach, but it's going to take you a long time. Why? Because you have to sample the light at many many many points along the ray from the camera to the objects in the scene. If you don't do tons of sampling, then you'll miss light that is hanging out between the camera and the objects in the scene. And when you start missing a bunch of light, your image starts to get noisy, which is what you're seeing in the bottom image. Since there was not much room for heavy computation, the conventional approach to photon mapping had to make do with an inadequate number of light collection points along the ray.

Read the full press release here.

Check out the paper here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Computer Science Startup on front page of Union Tribune on Sunday 13 April

Scott LaFee from the San Diego Union Tribune wrote a great story that ran on the Sunday 13 April 2008 issue, above the fold. Congratulations to computer science professor David Kriegman, and Satya Mallick, the freshly minted Jacobs School Ph.D. This pair came up with the "lipstick algorithms" that made way for which is the most realistic virtual makeover site on the Web. And it's free.
The promo video we made for the company launch was mentioned in the story. If you haven't watched the video, check it out here on YouTube.
UPDATE APRIL 21: The YouTube video now has more than 7,000 hits

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Drug Development Bottleneck Eliminated

Determining the structure of unknown natural compounds is a slow and expensive part of drug screening and development – but this may now change thanks to a new combination of experimental and computational protocols developed at the University of California, San Diego and presented at RECOMB 2008 (Research in Computational Molecular Biology) on March 31 in Singapore.