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Focus 2008

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Applying Hybrid Control Theory
Electrical engineering professor Meeko Oishi models complex hybrid systems for
safety and biomedical applications.
Aircraft Autolander
► Simplified User Interfaces
Faulty Feedback Mechanisms in
Parkinson's Disease
Most engineered systems involve
both continuous and discrete processes,
such as position changes and flap
adjustments, respectively, in aircraft.
Since the interplay between the two can
be so complex, especially when a human
operator is involved, detecting problems
in these hybrid systems can be extremely
difficult. ICICS member Meeko Oishi
has developed verification techniques to
identify such problems at the design stage.
Her expertise in hybrid control theory
has also led to collaborations with other
ICICS researchers investigating biomedical
Improving Pilot-Autopilot Interaction in
Commercial Jet Aircraft
The constant subtle adjustments made
by an airliner in the final stages of landing
often make us wonder whether a human
or a machine is at the controls. The answer
is that both are: the pilot has control over
the flaps, slats, and landing gear, and the
autopilot everything else. Ideally, the
Continued on page 2
Spring 2008 Vol. 19, No. 1
Quantifying Audio-Visual Coherence in Speech The Laboratory for Computational Intelligence:
Production and Perception 3      Linking Perception to Action 5-6
Sabbatical No Rest for Protocol Pioneer 4   Re-inventing the Servo  7
Passing Notes 10 ►   Applying Hybrid Control Theory: Continued from page 1
Over the past three months, our Planning
Committee and membership have conducted
a strategic planning review that will set the
direction of ICICS over the next five years.
I would like to thank all involved. The
Strategic Plan we have produced belongs to
the ICICS membership, and I look forward
to your support in implementing its goals.
On another front, I am investigating
various untapped funding opportunities for
ICICS researchers, some of whose recent
work we profile in this issue.
In our cover story, Meeko Oishi (ECE)
brings her expertise in hybrid control
theory to bear on improving aircraft safety
and helping to control the symptoms of
Parkinson's disease.
We rely on both visual and auditory
information to converse with one another.
Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson (Linguistics) probes
the limits of this coherence in relation to
human-computer interaction.
Sun Vuong (CS) explores applications
of peer-to-peer networking such as watching
movies on the Internet, enhancing social-
networking websites, and making virtual
classrooms seem more real.
Researchers in the Laboratory for
Computational Intelligence continue to add
to a long list of innovations in, for example,
computer vision, machine learning, mobile
robotics, human-computer interaction, and
the basic principles underlying programming
Finally, Xiaodong Lu (ME) is developing
an ultrafast cutting-tool mechanism that will
lead to significant improvements in precision
optics manufacture.
We hope you enjoy this issue of FOCUS.
Nimal Rajapakse, ICICS Director
pilot should always know what mode
the autopilot is in and how his or her
actions will affect the aircraft. However,
most flight-management systems are
designed by addressing known problems,
which can lead to "automation surprises"
in which the automation behaves in
ways that the pilots do not expect.
As part of her PhD work at Stanford
and in subsequent research, Meeko
Oishi modelled the discrete pilot inputs
involved in an autolander sequence for
a Boeing 777. The human inputs in a
semi-autonomous system had not been
modelled before, and it made sense to
do so with pilots, since they're trained
to enact certain procedures in certain
situations. Oishi developed an algorithm
that abstracts segments of the autolander
sequence that, given no pilot input, are
mathematically guaranteed to be safe,
or within flight-envelope constraints on
variables such as air speed and flight-
path angle. The effect of the pilot's
actions within these regions—either safe
or unsafe—can then be determined.
When Oishi tested her model on
Boeing's simulator, it generated two
possible "flare" modes, the final stage of
landing where the nose of the aircraft
is pulled up. In one mode, an aborted
landing initiated by the pilot was
considered safe, and in the other may
have led to a stall. "The whole point of
verification," Oishi says, "is that these
sorts of tests can elucidate problems you
might not have thought to test." She is
now looking at applying her verification
techniques to a smart powered
wheelchair being developed by ICICS/
CS computer-vision specialists Jim Little
and Alan Mackworth, and others.
Simplifying User Interfaces
Since a modern
commercial jet aircraft
is so complex,
the amount of
information to
display for the pilot
about its underlying
state is problematic.  /
If you give a
pilot too much     £
Oishi points out, "it effectively becomes
useless." This can lead to "mode
confusion," where the pilot is unsure
of the effect of his or her actions
upon the system. Oishi is using her
verification technique to abstract only
that information regarding aircraft mode
and safety that is essential for the pilot
at given points in the landing sequence,
which can then be used to design a
simplified user interface. Safer user
interfaces for other human—automation
systems can also be designed using this
Non-Invasive Control of Parkinson's
Disease Symptoms
Certain visual cues are thought
to interrupt faulty brain feedback
mechanisms responsible for impaired
motor skills in Parkinson's disease (PD)
patients. For example, horizontal lines
placed in their field of view can help PD
patients walk normally who otherwise
cannot. An ICICS research team led by
Martin McKeown (Neurology/Pacific
Parkinson's Research Centre) plans to
use EEG sensors to associate abnormal
brain signals with abnormal movement
in PD patients, then try to control
these symptoms by exposing patients to
different visual cues through a wearable
augmented-reality headset. If successful,
this treatment should lengthen the
period of time over the course of the
disease in which dopamine-replacing
medication is effective.
Oishi's role is to develop the control
laws governing the EEG signal feedback
loop that determines when to display
the cues, and which are most effective.
"What we're trying to do," she explains,
"is design a control law to keep the
user's mobility in a good range for as
long as possible."
With the ever-increasing
prevalence of human-
automation systems, a hybrid
control theorist like Meeko
Oishi should never be out
f of work.
Meeko Oishi can be reached at
604.827.4238 or
FOCUS Quantifying Audio-Visual Coherence in
Speech Production and Perception
Linguist Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson explores the correspondences between auditory and
visual components of speech, with implications for human-computer interaction
► Audio-visual coherence
Animated talking head
Robotic jaw
Before coming to UBC as a Tier 1 Canada
Research Chair in 2003, Eric Vatikiotis-
Bateson spent 12 years at the Advanced
Telecommunications Research Institute
(ATR) in Japan. There he developed an
elaborate animated talking head model
based on motions made by the face,
head, jaw, lips, and tongue in producing
speech. By altering the auditory and visual
components of the talking head, Vatikiotis-
Bateson was able to demonstrate strong
correspondences between these elements in
subjects' ability to perceive speech; being
able to see even a severely degraded version
of the speaker's head and face aided their
comprehension of degraded speech.
In humans, this "coherence" has
developed through evolution. It has not
yet been considered in human—computer
interaction (HCI), however, and will
become an issue as interfaces become more
"human." Vatikiotis-Bateson is addressing
this problem by using artificial devices such
as the ATR talking head, a robotic jaw,
and a gesturally-based speech synthesizer
to quantify the range of audio—visual
distortions involved in speech that humans
can tolerate. "The idea," Vatikiotis-Bateson
explains, "is to probe the strength of the
glue that holds these things together. How
far can you go in one direction before it
falls apart?"
The ATR talking head is based on the
motions of 300 talking subjects, and lends
itself to exploring structural distortions
related to age, gender, and emotion, as
well as kinetic variations such as head
motion. Subjects will evaluate the effect of
combinations of these and audio distortions
on their ability to perceive speech seeming
to emanate from the head.
Vatikiotis-Bateson will conduct similar
tests using a robotic jaw he developed in
collaboration with ICICS colleague Sid
Fels (ECE) and Fels' student, Edgar Flores.
The jaw has six degrees of freedom and
can achieve distortions beyond the range of
human jaw motion. "As you degrade the
auditory," Vatikiotis-Bateson says, "people
are forced to use the visual. We know that
this is true for humans, but what if it's a
mechanical object that's going through
the motions?" He and Fels have recently
obtained a grant for an anthropomorphic
face covering for the jaw that will enable
exploring the effect of exaggerated facial
movements on speech perception.
GRASSP (Gesturally Realized Audio,
Speech, and Song Performance) is a glove-
based synthesizer designed by ICICS music
professor Bob Pritchard (see FOCUS,
Fall 2007) and Fels that allows the user
to generate speech or song through hand
gestures. Vatikiotis-Bateson will use
GRASSP to assess whether being able to
see a unique source of speech and song—
gesturing hands rather than the face and
vocal tract—enhances listener perception.
If so, future HCI systems may be able to
achieve coherence through means other
than those we're accustomed to.
Continued on page 8
Spring 2008 Sabbatical No Rest for Protocol Pioneer
Computer Science professor Son Vuong pushes Internet evolution
► Social Networking
► P2P Networking
Virtual Learning
When ICICS member Son Vuong went on
sabbatical last September, it was to put
the finishing touches on one project that
promises a home-entertainment revolution
and to further expand and develop others
which could have even more far-reaching
and fundamental effects.
He says if he and his small team of
grad students are successful, one project
would allow the increasingly popular social
networking sites to include "a geographic
component" (meaning users will be able to
just "point and click" when they want to
find their friends) and another will make
the so-called virtual classroom much more
P2P Networking
Vuong, who fled Vietnam in 1969,
specialized in protocol engineering (the
rules or "syntax and semantics" governing
computer-to-computer communication)
for his 1982 PhD from the University of
Waterloo. When he joined ICICS (then the
Centre for Integrated Computer Systems
Research) as one of its first members in
1985, he began research that today is
pointing the way to the next step in the
Internet's evolution.
The server/client architecture of the
original networks became and remains
the dominant structure of the evolving
Internet. However, in recent years there has
been the realization that the excess capacity
of the computers on a network can be used
as the "server", a concept known as peer-to-
peer (P2P) networking.
"Typically [to expand a network] people
would need a very powerful server or a
cluster of far more servers and that leads
to scalability problems and very high costs.
But with the peer-to-peer concept, the
more users that come in [to the network]
the more resources they bring—they're not
just using the service, they're contributing
to it as well," explains Vuong.
Virtual Meeting, Learning
Vuong's work with fellow ICICS
members and Electrical and Computer
Engineering professors Robert Donaldson
and Mabo Ito and with others over the
years lead to BitVampire, a P2P video
streaming application that makes it just as
easy to locate and access (for download or
streaming) movies on the 'Net as music.
But the research that has him excited
today is an extension of his P2P work to an
application he calls LE Plaza and another
dubbed Millennial Learning.
LE Plaza—"L for location-based, E, just
like in e-commerce, and Plaza, essentially
a place where you meet people"—will
enhance current social networking sites
such as Facebook and MySpace by adding
location to the inventory of the attributes
of a user's friends. With LE Plaza one
of those attributes will be geographical
location regularly updated, either
automatically or manually, through a GPS-
equipped device such as a cell phone or
Meanwhile, Millennial Learning would
provide high definition, streaming video
and other tools to create a distributed
classroom that is much more "real" and
flexible for both teacher and student than
similar applications currently extant.
Continued on page 8
FOCUS The Laboratory for Computational
Intelligence: Linking Perception to Action
The fourteen faculty members of the Laboratory for Computational Intelligence
(LCI), an ICICS research group, work on different aspects of the perception/
reasoning/action cycle characterizing intelligent agents.
► Artificial Intelligence
► Computer Vision
► Machine Learning
Computational intelligence (CI), more
commonly known as artificial intelligence,
involves studying the design of intelligent
agents. The agent perceives its environment
through some mode such as vision or touch
(haptics), reasons about what to do, then
acts, either physically or virtually. The
overall goal of the LCI is to identify the
constraints and define the computations
that make this cycle possible, and in so
doing, better understand how humans
do it.
The LCI has been investigating various
facets of these problems since the 1970s.
Its members include ICICS and Computer
Science faculty members Jim Little, Alan
Mackworth, Kevin Murphy (CS/Stats),
Nando de Freitas, David Poole, Kevin
Leyton-Brown, Holger Hoos, David
Lowe, Bob Woodham, Karon MacLean,
Dinesh Pai, Cristina Conati, and Giuseppe
Carenini, as well as Arnaud Doucet
(CS/Stats). Their research encompasses
computer vision, mobile robotics, machine
learning, decision theory, empirical
algorithms, haptics, adaptive user interfaces,
and natural language processing, among
other areas.
Advances in Computer Vision
The LCI focuses on computer vision
as the perceptual mode in its CI research,
and has made significant advances in this
area. Jim Little devised a stereo-vision
mapping system that gives a robot better
depth perception and the ability to gather
more data while mapping its surroundings
and identifying landmarks. David Lowe
developed the Scale Invariant Feature
Transform (SIFT) algorithm, now widely
used in computer vision. SIFT breaks up
an image into many small overlapping
components that are described in such
a way that their "appearance" remains
constant, despite variations in scaling,
rotation, brightness level, etc. These
invariant parts are then matched to those
in a file, and the object is reassembled by
classifiers and identified. AIBO, the robotic
dog created by Sony, uses SIFT.
Uncertainty and Machine Learning
Machine learning techniques play
a crucial role in CI systems. Nando de
Freitas, Kevin Murphy, and Arnaud
Doucet work in this area, which uses
Bayesian inference to map out cause and
effect between a large number of key
variables, based on prior knowledge. As
new situations are encountered, the system
"learns" and updates itself.  In computer
vision, Jim Little says, Bayesian inference
is necessary because "we can't completely
describe or envision the world in any
simple way, but have distributions that
are possible. Machine learning gives you a
way to put your assumptions about what's
out there concretely into the reasoning
system." Instead of telling a robot what an
object specifically looks like so it can find
it later, the machine-learning technique
teases out what's common to a number of
objects in the same category, and then uses
this "fingerprint" to subsequently identify
objects in that category. Machine learning
enables CI systems to function in uncertain
environments. It also has applications in
bioinformatics, such as cancer detection.
Managing Complexity
As CI becomes more complex,
understanding the system's behaviour at
the level of individual algorithms becomes
infeasible. To handle such complexity,
Holger Hoos has developed an empirical
approach where adjustments are based
on observation and experiment rather
than theory. The parameters involved in
complex CI systems are set by running
experiments, gathering statistics, and
learning the right operating points. "It's
like tuning a car," Little says, "testing a
model of it under different conditions
and making particular settings to see how
it behaves." Equipped with these sets of
possible solutions, the right strategies for
highly complex situations can be derived.
Soccer-Playing Robots
LCI founding director Alan Mackworth
is also known as the "founding father"
of robotic soccer, for suggesting it as a
research test-bed for multi-agent systems
and building the first soccer-playing robots.
He saw it as a way to ground abstract CI
research in real systems involving action
and the constraints of physical robots
in a multi-agent environment. The idea
caught on, and since 1994 the World
Cup has been shadowed by RoboCup,
played by virtual and physical robots in
various categories—"four-legged" (e.g.,
AIBOs), "humanoid", etc. The goal is to
have a robotic soccer team that can beat
the World Cup winning team by 2050. In
the meantime, RoboCup has become the
primary platform for multi-agent robotics
research. Search-and-rescue robots now
being tested in disaster scenarios emerged
from this competition.
FOCUS (upper L-R): Alan Mackworth, Bob Woodham,
Jim Little, Giuseppe Carenini
occasionally competes in
RoboCup, and is heavily involved
in the underlying science. Most teams,
for example, operate on the basis of the
constraint-based systems pioneered by
Mackworth. These systems provide the
constraints that the system must satisfy
to solve a problem, rather than telling it
how to solve it. In soccer, a constraint
might be for a player to find the ball if
it hasn't seen it for a specified period, or
for the player with the best view of the
field to suggest action to other players.
The constraints change as situations
change, so the system evolves. According
to Little, constraint-based computing "has
shown itself to be very pervasive in setting
up and solving real-world problems,"
including scheduling of NFL games, airline
flights, and equipment maintenance. In
robotics, constraints can be used to specify
behaviour, which will be essential as
humans and robots increasingly interact.
Many programming languages now use a
constraint-based approach.
Smoothing Human-Computer Interaction
Giuseppe Carenini wants to make
human—computer interaction more natural.
He and CS/ICICS colleague Raymond
Ng are using a Google Research Award
to, in their version of the Google mission
statement, "summarize the world's text
and make it more universally accessible."
Their work is distinguished by its focus
on evaluative text (e.g., hotel reviews)
rather than factual text (e.g., news reports);
in other words, a form of knowledge
extraction. The process involves extracting
relevant sentences from search results, and
assigning numerical values to the strength
and polarity of the evaluations. The results
are sorted and converted back into natural
language for presentation to the user, who
has specified certain search criteria. Few
other systems generate natural language.
(lower L-R): Kevin Leyton-Brown, David Lowe,
Cristina Conati
Curious George
Much of the LCI's work coalesced
last summer when their robot won
the Semantic Robot Vision Challenge
(SRVC) held at the annual conference
of the Association for the Advancement
of Artificial Intelligence. Competing
teams' robots were given a text list of 15
objects—including a red bell pepper, a
DVD, and a banana—to search for on
the Internet. They then had to locate and
photograph the real objects lying on tables
and chairs in a small arena. Curious George
correctly identified 7 of the 15 objects by
building a classification database for the
objects retrieved from the Internet search,
based on similarities such as shading.
Explorer George Vancouver's namesake
then navigated and mapped the arena with
Little's stereo-vision mapping system, and
used David Lowe's SIFT algorithm to
locate and identify the objects.
Continued on page 8
Spring 2008 Re-inventing the Servo
► Precision Optics
► Fast Tool Servos
► Integrated Mechatronics
Precision and speed are often thought
to be mutually exclusive. But in the
manufacture of precision optics such
as contact lenses, speed is an essential
ingredient. Mechanical engineering
professor Xiaodong Lu and his students
in the Precision Mechatronics Lab
are aspiring to unheard-of speeds for
optics cutting tools by building a
servomechanism (servo) based on an
integrated mechatronics approach.
Lu was awarded the F.W. Taylor Medal
in 2007 by the International Academy for
Production Engineering, for realizing work
of outstanding merit in his field while still
under the age of 35. He won for the fast
tool servo (FTS) he built at MIT, with
bandwidth and acceleration capabilities far
beyond those of existing servos. But Lu
was just getting started.
Orchestrating Precision Tooling
Fast tool servos orchestrate the complex
dynamics involved in cutting rotationally
asymmetric surfaces. Symmetric surfaces
such as cylinders are straightforward to
manufacture. Asymmetric surfaces, on the
other hand, are problematic because the
cutting tool must remove different depths
of material through each rotation of the
work-piece. For example, the brightness-
enhancing film used in flat-screen display
panels consists of hundreds of micro-lenses
positioned in front of each pixel. They
are formed from an aluminum or copper
mold cut from a sheet wrapped around
a spinning drum. The diamond cutting
tool moves in and out at high speeds, and
slowly across the sheet, to cut individual
lens molds as the drum rotates. Since
each indentation is so small, roughly 100
microns across, the diamond tool tip must
accelerate, make a cut, and withdraw at
precisely the right times. A similar process
is used to cut molds for contact lenses,
except the molds are cut one at a time on
the end of a much smaller spindle.
Lu's award-winning FTS achieved
an acceleration of 500 g and a control
bandwidth of 23 kHz, the number
of cycles per second that the tool can
accurately attain (1 Hertz equals 1 cycle
per second). His goal now is to produce an
FTS capable of 2000 g acceleration and
a bandwidth of 40 kHz. Lu has attracted
significant industrial sponsorship for this
Marshalling Forces for Precision and
Most FTSs are based on piezoelectric
materials, which produce a small
displacement with considerable force
when an electrical current is applied. The
process, however, generates mechanical and
electrical energy losses that limit
Continued on page 8
"My design is based on a completely different
working principle. It's electromagnetically driven.'
Spring 2008 ►   Quantifying Audio-Visual Coherence in Speech Production and Perception: Continued from page 3
When we communicate with others,
we involuntarily adapt our speaking style,
vocabulary, grammar, and body language
to the other party. By using different
tracking systems to measure motions of
the face and head, and force plates to
determine body sway, Vatikiotis-Bateson
plans to quantify some of these adjustments
for different levels of speech and song,
both within and between subjects. Such
measurements will provide a baseline for
incorporating behavioural adjustments
into human—machine interaction.
Establishing the limits of distortion
for the things that help us understand
one another is as important for what it says
about human communication as
it is for its HCI potential. In this respect,
Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson bridges the
humanities/technology divide in his
current research.
Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson can be contacted at
604.822.6288 or evb@interchange.ubc.ca
►   Sabbatical No Rest for Protocol Pioneer: Continued from page 4
Vuong, who will be co-chair of
the prestigious ACM International
Conference on Multimedia in Vancouver
next October, says as excited as he is about
his work, he finds the meditation that he
has been doing for a quarter of a century
"even more exciting."
"I find the research into the inner self is
quite enjoyable. There are two sides and we
need a balance between our everyday life
and our spirituality.
"My research domain has gone beyond
protocol engineering, which was my PhD
work, and gotten more and more practical.
"I'm working on very cool technology
that can have a strong impact on industry
and society as a whole."
Son Vuong can be contacted at
604.822.6366 or vuong@cs.ubc.ca
►   The Laboratory for Computational Intelligence: Linking Perception to Action: Continued from page 6
The SRVC was designed to merge
computer-vision and mobile-robotics
research. Competitors published their
source code afterward and participated in
a one-day workshop to exchange ideas.
Robots that "understand" their surroundings, rather than just the objects and scenes
they've been programmed with, could
have almost limitless applications, such as
assistive technologies for the elderly and
disabled. Little, Mackworth and colleagues
are currently working on an intelligent
wheelchair that uses this technology. More
immediately, Internet searches based on
what images actually look like, instead of
the text attached to them, could provide
much more accurate search results.
CI research is inherently multidisciplinary, and the LCI draws upon expertise
in computer science, mechanical engineering, psychology, neuroscience, linguistics,
statistics, and logic. Being part of ICICS
therefore makes a lot of sense, especially
since the LCI focuses more on the science
than the engineering side of CI. In the
Collaborative Robotics Lab, for example,
Elizabeth Croft (ICICS/ME) works on
robotic arms in conjunction with LCI
members. Point Grey Research emerged
from the LCI to become a highly successful
computer-vision hardware company. As Jim
Little acknowledges, "The LCI provides us
with a community where we can bring a
number of different perspectives to bear on
problems in computational intelligence."
Laboratory for Computational
Intelligence members can be reached at
►   Re-inventing the Servo: Continued from page 7
performance. Lu knew that achieving
his performance targets would require a
different approach. "My design is based on
a completely different working principle,"
he says. "It's electromagnetically driven."
By designing an electromagnetic servo in
which the forces operating on components
are all linear in the direction of the tool
motion, Lu was able to maximize force
while minimizing inertia and distortion.
Lightweight materials further help
minimize inertia, and a control algorithm
provides feed-forward control based on
the desired cutting shape. Lu's algorithm,
which also processes feedback information,
runs in real time on an ultra-fast computer
he built. "It's like riding a bicycle," he
explains. "You need to keep looking, since
there's always a little bit of error you need
to correct."
Lu seems to be on the right track.
While conventional motors might
accurately achieve accelerations of 10 g, his
prototype has achieved 750 g, the highest in
the literature to date. Further refinements
should lead to his stated bandwidth and
acceleration goals, and result in more
precise and efficient optics manufacture.
Xiaodong Lu can be contacted
at 604.827.3541 or xdlu@mech.ubc.ca
FOCUS Passing Notes: Continued from backpage
PWIAS Major Thematic Grant
The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced
Studies has awarded a 3-year, $500,000
Major Thematic Grant to Dinesh
Pai (CS), Antony Hodgson (ME),
Alan Mackworth (CS), Martin
McKeown (Neurology), J. Timothy
Inglis (Human Kinetics), and John D.
Steeves (International Collaboration on
Repair Discoveries) for their project,
"Sensorimotor Computation." The
researchers will model the mechanisms in
the brain responsible for our successful
interaction with the physical world, for
example, how the eyes and head are moved
to direct gaze to objects of interest in the
Industrial Research Funding for
Computer Science Professor
Information visualization specialist Tamara
Munzner (CS) has received research
funding of US$50,000 from Google for
her project, "Session Viewer: A Tool to
Visualize and Analyze Search Session Data."
Munzner's study, "Visualization of Large
Network-Oriented Datasets," has also been
renewed by AT&T Research, with a grant
Diamond Alumni Award for
CS Professor
The University of Washington has given
Gail Murphy a Diamond Alumni Award
for Early Career Achievement. This award
recognizes outstanding graduates of the
UW College of Engineering who have
demonstrated exceptional achievement
in the first ten years of their engineering
career. Murphy is being recognized for her
research and teaching excellence in software
ECE Head's Book on Cognitive
Radio Published
Cognitive radio transceivers can adapt to
dynamic radio environments and network
parameters to maximize utilization of
limited radio resources while providing
flexibility in wireless access. Cognitive
Wireless Communication Networks,
co-edited by Ekram Hossain (University
of Manitoba) and Vijay Bhargava, is a
comprehensive look at the state-of-the-art
in this emerging technology.
Best Paper Award for
Sauder School of Business
A novel approach to capturing
knowledge dependencies in business
interactions won Hasan Cavusoglu
(Commerce) and PhD candidate Sameh
Al-Natour the best paper award at the
2007 Workshop on Information
Technologies and Systems. The two
researchers won for their paper, "The
Knowledge Dependency Network
Diagrams: A Tool for Analyzing
Strategic Knowledge Dependencies for
Understanding and Communicating."
Sauder School of Business Professor
Wins LEO Award
Izak Benbasat (Commerce) has received
the LEO Award from the Association
for Information Systems. Named after
"The Lyons Electronic Office," one
of the first commercial computing
applications, the LEO Award recognizes
seminal contributions to research, theory
development, and practice in Information
Systems. Benbasat's Canada Research
Chair in Information Technology
Management has also been renewed.
ICICS Researchers Win NSERC
Synergy Awards for Innovation
Mechanical Engineering professors
Martha Salcudean and James Olson
have won two of seven 2007 NSERC
Synergy Awards for Innovation, in
recognition of their outstanding industrial
collaborations. Salcudean and partners
Paprican, Weyerhaeuser, and Process
Simulations Limited won for their
modelling and simulation of recovery
boilers. Olson, along with partners
Advanced Fiber Technologies, Canfor,
and BC Hydro, won for their high-
performance pulp screens.
Best Student Paper Award
A paper co-written by Computer Science
master's student Suling Yang and her
supervisor Alan Mackworth, entitled
"Hierarchical Shortest Pathfinding Applied
to Route-Planning for Wheelchair Users,"
was given the Best Student Paper award
at the Canadian Conference on Artificial
Intelligence held last summer in Montreal.
New Media Initiative Grant
for ICICS Team
Sidney Fels (ECE), Robert Pritchard
(Music), and Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson
(Linguistics) have been awarded a 3-year
New Media Initiative grant comprising
$499,300 from NSERC and $180,000
from the Canada Council for the Arts, for
"Visual Voice: Gestural Control of Vocal
Expression." The researchers will design a
glove-based synthesizer that creates audiovisual speech and song by converting hand
gestures to the tongue, jaw, lip, and vocal
chord parameters of a 3D vocal tract model.
Former ICICS Director to
Receive IEEE Signal Processing
Society's Highest Award
Rabab Ward (ECE), ICICS director
from 1996 to mid-2007, will receive
the 2008 Society Award from the IEEE
Signal Processing Society. The award
honours outstanding contributions and
leadership in a field within the scope
of the Society, and will be presented at
the IEEE International Conference
on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal
Processing in Las Vegas in April.
Computer Science Professor an
Emerging Leader
Rachel Pottinger has been given the
inaugural Denice Denton Award by The
Anita Borg Institute for Women and
Technology. The award, sponsored by
Microsoft, recognizes researchers under
the age of 35 who have demonstrated
significant leadership capability and had
a positive impact on the lives of women
through technology. Pottinger's research
focuses on management of data that are
not easily handled by existing databases.
Career Recognition Award for
ECE Professor
The Advanced SAR (Synthetic
Aperture Radar) Workshop is organized
biennially by the Canadian Space
Agency. At the 2007 Workshop, held in
Vancouver and sponsored by the CSA and
MacDonald Dettwiler, Ian Cumming
was honoured with a Career Recognition
Award for signicant achievements in the
area of SAR signal processing and for
training a generation of SAR specialists.
Spring 2008 Passing Notes:
NSERC Strategic Project Funding Grants Awarded
Sidney Fels (ECE), Rafeef Abugharbieh
(ECE), Dinesh Pai (CS), Robert
Bridson (CS) and Eric Vatikiotis-
Bateson (Linguistics) have been
granted $606,700 to create a complete
computer model of the human mouth,
pharynx, and larynx. The 3-year
project involves collaborations with
other specialists from UBC, University
of California, Centre National de
la Recherche Scientifique, Harvard
Medical School, and support from Zak
Technologies, McKesson Medical Image
Group, Restore Medical, Northern
Digital Inc, Haskins Laboratory, Brock
Univ., the National Institutes of Disease
and Stroke (USA), John Hopkins Univ.,
Widener Univ., Waseda Univ., and the
Japan Advanced Institute for Science
and Technology.
ECE professors Lukas Chrostowski,
Nick Jaeger, and David Pulfrey,
along with David Plant of McGill
University, have been awarded
$595,700 over three years for their
project "High-speed Transistor-
VCSELs for Optical Communications."
Supported by PMC Sierra, Crosslight,
and Versawave, the researchers aim
to develop a new low-cost, high-
performance semi-conductor laser-
transmitter technology for use in
optical communications.
Electrical engineers Robert Schober
and Lutz Lampe, along with
co-investigators Steve Hranilovic
(McMaster) and Frank Kschischang
(U of T), have won a 3-year, $542,919
grant to investigate "Free-Space
Optical (FSO) Communication
System Design." FSO communication
is a line-of-sight technology that uses
light to provide optical bandwidth
connections up to 1.25 Gigabits per
second for voice, video, and data
communication. Supporting partners
include Bell Canada, fSONA Systems
Corp., Plain tree Systems Inc., COM
DEV, Rogers Cable Communications
Inc., Nortel Government Solutions,
Novax Industries Corp., the Canadian
Space Agency, and Nanowave
Technologies Inc.
Robert Schober (ECE) is a co-
investigator on the project "Intelligent
Transceiver Design for IMO-OFDM
Systems," awarded to Chintha
Tellambura of the University of
Alberta. The goal of this project, with
a 3-year budget of $588,000 supported
by Bell Canada and Sierra Wireless, is
to develop intelligent signal-processing
techniques for next-generation cooperative wireless networks. Schober's
Canada Research Chair in Wireless
Communications has also been renewed.
Certain proliferative diseases, such as
diabetic retinopathy, prevent systemic
drugs from entering targeted tissue.
Mu Chiao (ME), Helen Burt
(Pharmaceutical Sciences), Shahriar
Mirabbasi (ME), and Robert
Rohling (ECE/ME) have been awarded
$348,070 over three years to develop
a microelectro-mechanical (MEMS)
based device that controls drug release
and improves cellular uptake. Their
research is support by Vancouver-based
QLT Inc.
NSERC Special Research
Opportunity Grant
Clarence de Silva (ME) has received a
Special Research Opportunity grant of
$234,000 from NSERC to carry out
research on multi-robot cooperation in
the Multidisciplinary University Research
Initiative of the United States Department
of Defense (DoD). Through separate DoD
funding, de Silva will also collaborate with
prominent researchers from Harvard, Duke,
Purdue, and Penn State universities on
"Engineering of Sensor Network Structure for
Dependable Fusion." Professor de Silva will
receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering
degree from the University of Waterloo this
spring in recognition of his pioneering contributions to the fields of control, robotics,
automation and mechatronics.
Continued on page 9
»I»C»I»C»S» Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems www.icics.ubc.ca
UBC's Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) is an umbrella
organization that promotes collaboration between researchers from the faculties of Applied
Science, Arts, Commerce, Education, Forestry, Medicine, and Science. ICICS supports the
collaborative computer-oriented research of more than 150 faculty members and over 800
graduate students in these faculties. ICICS researchers attract approximately $15 million in
annual grants and contracts. Their work will have a positive impact on us all in the future.
ICICS, University of British Columbia
289-2366 Main Mall,
Vancouver, BC, V6T1Z4
Writing:    Craig Wilson, ICICS Editorial Assistant;
Rick Rogers, Rogers Wordsmithing
Photos:    Janis Franklin, UBC Media Group
Design:    Jarret Kusick Hitman Creative Media Inc.
Contact:    Jake Jacobs
ICICS Publications Coordinator
ICICS, University of British Columbia
289-2366 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4
Tel:    604.822.6894
Fax:    604.822.9013
E-mail:    info@icics.ubc.ca


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