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UBC Publications

Focus 2004

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Shaping the Future of ECE and Wireless Systems
ICICS member Vijay Bhargava is an international leader in wireless communications. As head of
Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) he leads a growing department in a competitive era.
"When you serve on this kind of committee,
you really have to have an appreciation for  ..
interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research"
► 4G Wireless Systems
► Ultrawide Bandwidths
When I went to interview Professor
Vijay Bhargava I was nor allowed
into his office; ir was in the midst
of a construction zone and I had
forgotten to wear close-toed shoes.
Instead, hardhat in hand, the busy
new head of Electrical and
Computer Engineering came to
meet me in the CICSR building.
The current ECE building has
been undergoing major renovations
to make it code-compatible with its
adjoining new building, to be
completed in the early fall 2004
or spring 2005. Overseeing the
progress, managing a department,
and working amidst the noise and
chaos, are challenges Bhargava
takes in stride.
"Accommodating the increase
in undergraduate and graduate
students before the infrastructure
is ready for them, and recruiting
faculty and staff to fill vacancies
and meet our growing needs, are
probably the greatest tasks facing
me right now," he admits.
Continued on page 2
Fall 2004 Vol. 15, No. 2
Process and Ethics in Software Engineering....3   "Meshing Around" with Digital Geometry 7
Making the Most of MEMS 4   Verifying Hybrid Embedded Systems 8
Fourteen New ICICS Members 5-6   Passing Notes 10 ICICS
Director's Corner
This fall is an exciting time at ICICS.
Our new building is almost complete. Our
institute has grown to over 135 members from
disciplines as diverse as curriculum development to nanotechnology. This issue of FOCUS
introduces fifteen ICICS members and
profiles five-all leaders in their respective fields.
Head of Electrical and Computer
Engineering, Vijay Bhargava is a world leader
in wireless communications. As well as
running a busy and expanding department,
he is working at the forefront of 3G and 4G
wireless systems.
Philippe Kruchten (ECE) has literally
written the book on software engineering,
The Rational Unified Process®. Now, after
30 years in industry, he brings his expertise
to UBC to help train the next generation
of software engineers. His research focuses
on developing reliable, robust software
systems, while also establishing a code of
ethics for the industry.
Digital geometry processing has numerous
applications, from computer graphics to
scientific computing. Computer scientist Alia
Sheffer uses tools from applied computational
geometry, geometric modelling and solid
modelling to generate and manipulate
three-dimensional geometric models.
Canada Research Chair in MicroElectroMechanical Systems and Nanotechnology,
Mu Chiao (ME) is researching the biomedical
application of MEMS, such as implantable
biosensors and drug delivery systems.
Computer scientist Ian Mitchell develops
numerical algorithms to solve problems
related to the control and safety of complex
hybrid systems. He has recently released an
online tool box for solving equations that
involve moving surfaces.
We are very pleased to welcome these
outstanding members to ICICS.
Rabab Ward, ICICS Director
►   Bhargava: Continued from page 1
Bhargava came to UBC from
UVic, where he spent a successful 19
years, accruing many prestigious
appointments and awards along the
way. He is a member of the Royal
Society of Canada, and recently
received their Thomas W. Eadie Medal
for his "profound effect on the field
of wireless communication." Another
highlight was his appointment as chair
of the Canada Research Chair Program
Adjudication Committee for 2002 and
2003. "When you serve on this kind
of committee, you really have to have
an appreciation for interdisciplinary
and multidisciplinary research,"
Bhargava says.
Piloting a Broad Range of Research
As a pioneer in third generation
(3G) wireless communication—
which aims to provide wire-line grade
multimedia services worldwide,
anywhere at any time—it is impossible
to summarize all areas of Bhargava's
research. In the past five years, his
group has published over 40 journal
articles alone. For example, his work on
code-division multiple access (CDMA)
helped to address problems of varied
data rates, traffic patterns and Quality
of Service requirements over error-
prone wireless channels, and limited
and changing bandwidth.
A classical lay explanation of
CDMA is a conversation at a cocktail
party explains Bhargava, where two
people are talking amidst a score of
other conversations or "interference."
His work on multi-user detection
helps to mitigate interference in
wireless systems.
"Power control is another issue
that is peculiar to CDMA," he notes.
"If you spread the signal over a very
wide bandwidth, then CDMA systems
suffer from what is called a near-far
problem, where a signal from a
desired transmitter is overwhelmed by
a signal from an undesired transmitter,
which is nearby." Bhargava and his
students have developed a novel
power control algorithm to solve the
Taking Wireless Systems Beyond 3G
Bhargava is now working beyond
3G on the collection of technologies
known as fourth generation wireless
systems (4G), which aim to provide
increased bandwidth and higher data
rates at lower costs. One aspect of 4G
will be the use of ultrawide band-
widths. Current cell phones operate in
a relatively small portion of the radio
frequency spectrum near 800 MHz.
Second and third generation systems
are designed to operate in the 2 GHz
range, and 4G will operate at 5 GHz
and beyond. "As you go to higher
frequencies you have bigger chunks
of bandwidth available, and significant
portions of that are licence exempt,"
notes Bhargava.
"As you go to higher
frequencies you have bigger
chunks of bandwidth available,
and significant portions of that
are licence exempt,"
When asked how he plans to juggle
research with demanding administrative
duties, Bhargava credits his graduate
students with keeping him involved.
"I used to supervise a large number of
students, but now as head I will limit
myself to six," he says. Working with
students is obviously a part of his job
that he relishes. In 2002, he was the
first person from outside the US to
receive the IEEE Graduate Teaching
Award. "To me, a successful department
must have the right kind of culture in
the research lab, so students benefit
from the synergy of the group."
Vijay Bhargava can be reached at
604.822.2342 or vijayb@ece.ubc.ca
FOCUS Process and Ethics in Software Engineering
After 30 years as a software engineer, new ICICS member Philippe Kruchten brings his experience to
UBC to help train a new generation of software developers.
► Rational Unified Process®
► Software Code of Ethics
► Global Software Development
We have all read and e-signed ponderous
and even ludicrous disclaimers prior to
loading new software on our computer.
"Imagine approaching a bridge with a sign
on it saying that you cross at your own risk,
that anything can go wrong and the builders
are not liable" says Philippe Kruchten.
"This is what we do with most software
products. We need to raise the quality of
software and change the underlying ethics
of the discipline—at the individual level,
the company level, and the industry level,"
he states. With almost three decades in the
business, and a PhD in Information
Systems from l'Ecole Nationale Superieure
des Telecommunications in Paris, he speaks
from experience. Now, as professor in
Electrical and Computer Engineering, he
feels he is better able to make a difference.
Kruchten led the design of the
Canadian Automated Air Traffic Control
System for Hughes Aircraft (now Raytheon
Canada). While applications such as air
traffic control are safety critical, there are
many others that may not be critical to
physical safety but can cause immense harm
financially to companies and to individuals.
In 1999, the discipline of software
engineering was recognized by the
Association of Professional Engineers and
Geoscientists of BC, and Kruchten became
the first "professional" software engineer
in the province.
Writing the Book on Software Engineering
Software engineering, unlike other
engineering disciplines, is not a clearly
defined process—and this creates major
challenges for designers. Software is
dynamic, creative, and tactical. Unlike a
bridge or a building, it is developed by
trial and error and is designed to evolve.
Imposing processes derived from other
engineering disciplines simply leads to
poor quality software. "The world of bits
and the world of atoms do not follow the
same rules," says Kruchten, adding that
the rapid evolution of computer science
technologies adds to the difficulty of
developing software-intensive systems.
As these systems become larger and
more complex, they become "brittle" or
increasingly difficult to modify. A major
challenge in software architecture is keeping
track of the decisions made early on in
the process. "You want to retain an
understanding of a software systems
original design decisions, so that new
decisions don't violate them," says
From 1987 to 2003, Kruchten held
several positions with Rational Software
Corp., working with branches all over the
world. There, he and colleagues developed
the Rational Unified Process®, or RUP, a
5,000-page online handbook for software
engineers that is now used worldwide. He
has also recently co-authored a book on
RUP, as well as two textbooks.
Continued on page 9
Fall 2004 Making the Most of MEMS
New Canada Research Chair Mu Chiao is developing MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS)
for biological applications.
► Micro Energy Sources
► Nanoscience
Someday soon, people suffering from
chronic diseases that require ongoing monitoring and regular doses of medication will
be able to worry less and enjoy life more.
This is the goal of recent ICICS member
and Mechanical Engineering professor Mu
Chiao's research in biomedical applications
of MEMS, such as implantable biosensors
and drug delivery systems.
Engineering nano and microscale
medical devices poses considerable technical
challenges. "When you are implanting
something inside the body, you don't want
it to fail and you don't want the body to
destroy the device," says Chiao, who was
recently appointed Canada Research Chair
in MicroElectroMechanical Systems and
Nanotechnology. Power supply is another
challenge, as biosensors require energy
sources that are safe, reliable and long-last
ing, yet sm
jh to
lower a microsc
The Importance of Packaging
The reliability of microresonators
depends upon designing the right packaging. In order for resonating microdevices to
work in cellular applications, they require
a vacuum environment. Without it, too
much energy is lost to air friction, or
damping. "With current methods, the
packaging cost is 70 percent of the total
cost," notes Chiao. "We hope that by using
a microcavity seal we can reduce the
packaging cost to less than 30 percent."
For cellular applications, he has worked
on a vacuum packaging process called
Rapid Thermal Processing (RTP), which
has proved effective, easy to implement and
stable over the long-term. Chiao
plans to develop the process
for biomedical device packaging as well.
Another key function of packaging is
to facilitate biological screening. Biosensors
require a selective filter process that provides
access to key body chemicals while screening
out the rest. Chiao is developing the same
technology used to filter out signal interference in cellular applications for use in
Tackling Frequency Tuning
Improved packaging can also improve
quality control of MEMS manufacturing
by reducing damage during automated
assembly. However, post-fabrication tuning
is often required to control the dynamic
characteristics of microresonators. Chiao
has developed an innovative method called
post-packaging frequency tuning using
pulsed laser deposition. First, a thin glass
covering is bonded to the microresonator
and then its dynamic characteristics are
measured. "If it is not what you want, you
can introduce a local laser through a tiny
spot in the glass, which heats up the metal
film on the glass and deposits it onto the
microresonator surface," explains Chiao.
The deposit of metal film changes the
microresonators mass, which changes
the dynamic and tunes the frequency.
MEMS research is extremely multidisciplinary. Chiao is collaborating with
ICICS colleagues John Madden (ECE) and
Shahriar Mirabbasi (ECE) on developing
hybrid polymer mechanical structures and
standalone radio frequency MEMS sensors.
Continued on page 9
4 I FOCUS Fourteen New ICICS Members
We welcome fourteen outstanding new researchers to ICICS.
Watch for more about their work in this and upcoming issues of FOCUS.
Rafeef Abugharbieh,
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research: Image Processing and Analysis.
"In recent years we have witnessed the rapid
development of imaging technologies for
biomedical and industrial applications.
Ultrasound, MR, CT, and microscopy images
are integral tools for disease diagnosis, surgery
planning, and therapy evaluation. Similarly, a huge growth in the use of
lasers and ultra high-speed cameras for imaging various industrial
processes has enabled us to visualize and characterize rapid events and
minute structures, which has not been possible in the past. The main
aim of my research is the development of computerized processing and
identifying techniques for the fast, accurate and reproducible extraction,
analysis and visualization of information buried in huge volumes of
image data. Application areas are in medical, biological, and laser
spectroscopic imaging. I'm very enthusiastic about starting new
collaborations at UBC, especially within ICICS, related to biomedical
and industrial imaging and other associated areas."
L^i^^      a,     Konstantin Beznosov, Computer Science
Research: Secure Systems.
"My research focus is on novel ways to
engineer, administer and operate secure systems.
Specifically, I am working to develop new
methods for engineering security mechanisms
for large-scale distributed applications. I also
investigate approaches to software security
and study the effectiveness, cost of ownership, usability, and other
characteristics that influence adoption of secure applications. Coming
from industry, I am a strong believer that—along with technical
factors—human, economical, business, legal, social, and political aspects
are keys to the successful research of useful secure systems. With ICICS's
mission for interdisciplinary research, I look forward to collaborative
explorations in the highly interdisciplinary domain of security."
I   Robert Bridson, Computer Science
,   Research: Scientific Computing and Computer
"My research brings together numerical
methods and computer animation. It is difficult
to animate many natural phenomena (at least
to the level of photorealistic motion) with
traditional keyframe approaches. A powerful
alternative is to directly simulate the underlying physics of the
phenomena. For example, the motion of a digital actor's clothes can be
simulated automatically with a good model for the elastic forces and the
frictional contact interactions. I am also interested in mainstream
scientific computing, both adapting the robust and scalable (but not
necessarily accurate) algorithms for animation to scientific challenges,
and developing basic numerical tools that are usable in a wide range of
applications. For example, solving sparse linear systems often takes up
most of the CPU time in a simulation, so efficient but also robust
(no tuning needed) linear solvers are required."
Mu Chiao, Mechanical Engineering
Research: MicroElectroMechanicalSystems (MEMS).
(See profile on page 4)
■   Peter Cripton, Mechanical Engineering
/        UHL '   Research: Injury Biomechanics.
Brt    "Injury biomechanics is the field of
biomedical engineering that is dedicated to
I    understanding, preventing and, in some cases,
I    attempting to reverse the effects of traumatic
^^^.       human injury. My research spans the injury of
-^^^^^-     -^^^^^^   very soft biological materials that compose the
spinal cord and the eye, fracture of the geriatric hip and spine, and the
function of injury prevention devices such as airbags and child safety
restraints. In these areas, the overall goals are to improve our
understanding of the mechanical and biological mechanisms occurring
at the time of acute injury, and to use this information to improve
the efficacy of injury prevention devices, as well as to increase the
accuracy of computer or biological models that are used in the
development of improved clinical treatment."
Charles (Buck) Krasic, Computer Science
Research:Operating Systems, Networking,
"My research concerns systems and application
support for quality adaptive, time-sensitive
computing, which is about the design of systems
that simultaneously support the normally
conflicting goals of real-time performance and
a best-effort service model. For example, a main focus of my research has
been the development of a system called QStream which does adaptive
video streaming over the Internet. Video streaming exemplifies the type
of application that must be both real-time and best-effort. The goal of
QStream is to simplify the resource management issues of video streaming to the point of an 'encode once, stream anywhere' ideal. The research
associated with QStream has spanned several areas such as scalable
video compression, network protocols, and operating system support
of time-sensitive applications."
Philippe Kruchten,
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research: Software Engineering,Global Software
(See profile on page 3)
FOCUS Don Krug,
Curriculum Studies, Faculty of Education
Research: Educational Technologies.
"My research investigates information and
communication technologies (ICT) in
pedagogical knowledge and virtual education.
This includes both teachers' and learners'
cognition and the use of ICT simulations and
information systems in formal and informal learning environments.
My focus is on the interface design and development of educational
technologies used within face-to-face (F2F), hybrid, and online distance
education (ODE) learning environments. Currently, I am working with
K—12 teachers and students using a self-directed, critical inquiry research
intervention (e.g., video ethnography and action research) as a way to
study one's own evolving knowledge and increase the efficiency of
ICT literacy, fluency, and integration in educational settings."
Lutz Lampe,
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research: Coding and Modulation for Digital
Communications—Theory and Applications.
"As Claude E. Shannon, the father of
Information Theory put it, 'the fundamental
problem of communication is that of
reproducing at one point either exactly or
approximately a message selected at another point.' My research is
centered on this formidable task and methods to solve the problem.
These methods are collectively referred to as 'coding' and 'modulation'
and concern the generation of signals suitable for reliable communication,
as well as the effective extraction of information from weak and disturbed
received signals. The overall goal of my work is to devise and analyze
practical coding and modulation techniques which enable higher data
rates, lower power consumption, and less-complex implementation in
communication systems and networks. Current fields of application
include wireless personal and local area networks, third generation
mobile communication systems, and power-line communication systems."
Guy Lemieux,
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research: Architectures and Algorithms for
Programmable Logic Chips.
"Imagine that you are designing the road
network for a brand-new city. You know
where everyone lives and works, and you want
everyone to have their own congestion-free
commuting route, but you have to balance this against the cost of
building the road network. Also, your road design must be sufficiently
general that it is just as efficient in 25 years, after everyone has moved
or changed jobs several times. My research involves precisely this
problem, but using electrical wires and switches instead of lanes and
intersections. The end result is a computer chip where the hardware
itself can be reprogrammed to support completely different functions.
The challenge in this is twofold: a) architecture—how to design the
interconnection network efficiently, and b) algorithms—how to
efficiently compute the shortest routes for everyone over a fixed
network without suffering from congestion. This problem is of
great importance for reducing the cost of future computer chips."
Kevin Leyton-Brown, Computer Science
Research: Multiagent Artificial Intelligence,
Empirical Hardness of Algorithms, Game Theory.
"My research falls into two main categories.
First, I am interested in problems that are
fundamentally computational, but that have
application to multiagent systems. For example,
I have been working on the use of machine-
learning techniques to characterize the empirical hardness of NP-Hard
optimization problems, and on applying these models to the construction
of algorithm portfolios and benchmark distributions. Second, I study
fundamentally game-theoretic problems with applications to problems in
AI or computer networks. Most recently, I have been working on a novel
class of games I call Action-Graph Games. This representation can
compactly express large multi-player games in which each player's utility
depends on the number of other players who choose either the same
action or other actions which 'locally affect' the chosen action."
Ian Mitchell, Computer Science
Research: Hybrid and Embedded Systems, PDE
Methods for Control, Mathematical Software,
(See profile on page 8)
Alia Sheffer,
Computer Science
Research: Computer Graphics, Digital Geometry
Processing,Computer-Aided Engineering, Applied
Computational Geometry.
(See profile on page 7)
Derek Yip-Hoi, Mechanical Engineering
Research:Geometric and Solid Modelling methods
for Virtual Machining; Computer-Aided Product
"The primary focus of my research is to
develop computational techniques for
characterizing the engagement geometry
between cutting tools and the workpiece
processes. This requires modelling of the changing
in-process geometry of a part as it is manufactured. A variety of
methodologies based on solid modelling and computational geometry
theory are being investigated. This research will be integrated with
physics-based models of metal removal processes facilitating simulation
of cutting forces, prediction of process stability, and process optimization
within a virtual machining environment. Another aspect of my work
targets computer-aided product development using feature-based
methodologies, knowledge-based engineering, distributed and
Internet-aided techniques, and product similarity analysis."
Fall 2004 //
Meshing Around" with Digital Geometry
Recent ICICS member Alia Sheffer's research in geometry processing has applications in a wide
range of fields—from computer graphics and multimedia to scientific computing.
► Geometric Modelling
► Digital Geometry
► Computer-Aided Engineering
Artists are trained to see the world in
terms of shape, texture and dimension.
But how do scientists translate the texture
of grass, or the contour of a hand into
computer code? The answer is geometry.
In fact, three-dimensional geometric models
form the base data for almost every
computer application that requires a
description of a shape. Computer Science
professor Alia Sheffer is interested in the
various algorithmic aspects of digital
geometry processing. Sheffer came to UBC
from Technion in Israel, attracted by BC's
lifestyle, and the level of research and spirit
of collaboration in the department and
within ICICS.
Geometric modelling represents an
object as a "mesh" of triangles (or polygons)
which capture the outside surface of a 3D
shape. Smaller triangles provide a more
accurate description of the modelled object.
However, this means using a larger number
of triangles, which requires longer
computational running time. "That's
why this work is becoming relevant,"
admits Sheffer. "Ten to fifteen years ago
we simply didn't have computers that
were fast enough. Now they are reasonably
fast, but you still need mathematics to
do this modelling efficiently."
Texture Mapping and Morphing
Computer graphics and animation
utilize numerous geometry processing tools,
such as morphing and blending shapes, and
transferring textures. Transferring texture
from one shape to another (for instance
from a camel to a horse) so that the texture
appears in roughly the same areas requires
a mapping process called cross-parameterization. This process ensures that the
texture at a specific location—the horse's
eyes, for example—is the same as the texture on the camel's eyes, while maintaining
each animal's proper shape. Sheffer and
colleagues have developed a cross-parameterization method that satisfies those
In addition to texture-mapping, the
method can also be used to morph or
blend shapes. (An example on her website
shows a cow with the legs of a camel.)
Surface Remeshing with Geodesic
Given one mesh that describes a
model, it is often necessary to replace it
by another mesh with different properties
(triangle shape, size, etc). In order to do
this the remeshing algorithms must
measure distances between points on
the surface.
Continued on page 9
"The moment you want to describe anything on a computer,
you have to start with its shape.' Verifying Hybrid Embedded Systems
Computer scientist Ian Mitchell devises numerical algorithms to solve
problems related to control and safety for complex hybrid systems.
► Mathematical Software
► Dynamic Implicit Surfaces
► Optimal Control Methods
Whether we like it or not, we are reliant
upon computer-controlled systems to run
almost every facet of our lives—cars,
appliances, communications and power
networks, games, and a plethora of other
technologies and devices. These systems
can be hybrid systems, which contain both
discrete and continuous components, or
embedded systems, which are "hidden" in
devices that are not user programmable.
Or they can be both.
"The problem is that the
methodologies used to design
these systems have not
developed as fast as the
complexity of the systems
themselves," says new ICICS
member Ian Mitchell. He is
developing improved methods to design,
analyze and verify these systems—many of
which are used in safety critical applications.
Onboard Control Thwarts Terrorism
Aircraft are an excellent example.
Twenty years ago, large aircraft were
mechanically controlled by human pilots.
Today, they are almost entirely controlled
indirectly through electronic computer
systems. "In fact, most of the cost of
designing new aircraft is in proving that
electronics work correctly," says Mitchell.
New systems will allow aircraft to
communicate with each other and ground
control without having onboard radar.
While Mitchell admits that designing robust
onboard navigational controls increases the
verification process and overall cost, the
technology prevents terrorists from taking
over a plane—a serious consideration for
airlines and governments today.
Mitchell came to UBC from
UC Berkeley, where he worked on a project
called "Soft Walls" with Edward Lee.
Their goal was to design a system that
would prevent the plane from entering
restricted airspace, while still giving the
pilot a sense of control. Mitchell studied
ways of "gently" modifying the pilot's
input as the aircraft approaches the
restricted zone so as to ensure safety.
In hybrid embedded systems, often
problems are not detected until late in
the design cycle—and this also increases
costs. Designing systems for reuse and
future modification is another task that
Mitchell is working on. As part of the
design verification process, Mitchell
uses mathematical models to discover
discrepancies between high- and
low-level design.
Continued on page 9
"It is easy to start at
the top and design
your way down to the
operational system.
However, by the time you
get to the bottom, the
original high-level
description has little
to do with what was
FOCUS ►   Kruchten: Continued from page 3
Global Software and Cultural Difference
While working with Rational in
Europe, Asia, Australia, and North
America, Kruchten was impressed by
the impact of culture on global software
development. In today's global
environment, major software systems
involve multiple designers, working in
several companies in various countries
with different cultures. "The issues are not
technical as much as procedural," he says.
"When we establish processes to build
software we tend to assume a certain
cultural model."
Whether these models are equally
applicable in Bangalore or Budapest is one
issue. They might work or fail, but they are
still contained within a certain cultural
context. Where the issue becomes critical
is in outsourcing, where projects are
created across cultures. For most software
engineers, this is unfamiliar terrain. For
Kruchten, it is a new area of research,
and to navigate it he recently completed
a certificate in Intercultural Studies at
UBC. "Software development is mostly
about people having to work together,
communicate with one another and share
ideas; it is not so much about the
Philippe Kruchten can be reached at
604.827.5654 or pbk@ece.ubc.ca
►   Chiao: Continued from page 4
He is working with ICICS members Nimal
Rajapaske (ME) and Robert Rohling
(ECE), and physicists Andre Marziali and
Mario Beaudoin on multiphysics nanoscale
simulations and microfabrication. On drug
delivery systems, Chiao is collaborating
with Dr. Helen Burt in the Faculty of
Pharmaceutics. He is also working with
ICICS member Jonathan Wu of the
National Research Council to make novel
MEMS sensors.
One of the challenges of MEMS and
microfabrication in general is that it
involves such a broad range of research.
Another is finding people skilled in
maintaining the sophisticated fabrication
equipment. "The establishment of this
CRC chair will help to bring this group
of researchers together, and to train the
highly qualified personnel needed in the
areas of MEMS and nanotechnology,"
says Chiao.
Mu Chiao can be reached at
604.822.4902 or muchiao@mech.ubc.ca.
Continued from page 7
Typically, this has been done using
Euclidian distances. But planar measurements on a curved surface can generate
large discrepancies between the original
surface and the constructed mesh. Sheffer
solves the problem by using geodesic
distances, which take into account the
curvature or circumference of shapes.
Rather than measuring the shortest planar
distance between two points, this method
measures the shortest path between two
points along a surface.
Sheffer notes that equilateral triangles
are most efficient for processing data and
running simulations on models. Her
remeshing algorithm can take a model,
such as a medical scan, which might have
millions of triangles or ill-shaped triangles,
and regenerates the mesh with fewer, more
symmetrical triangles that accurately define
the original geometry—without costly
parameterization techniques.
Sheffer's work also has applications in
scientific computing. At the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign she worked
on joint research with the Sandia National
Labs. She has also worked with Fluent Inc.
in the US, who specialize in fluid dynamic
simulations. "If you are an engineer, it's not
enough just to draw models that look
good," says Sheffer. "You want to test the
physics behind them, and you first want to
do this on the computer before you actually
build a beta model."
Alia Sheffer can be reached at
604.822.4030 or sheffa@cs.ubc.ca
►   Mitchell: Continued from page 8
Taking Topological Control
The same methods used to study
control problems in aircraft can be used
for applications where modelling moving
surfaces is critical. Funded by NSERC,
Mitchell's research in "dynamic implicit
surfaces" has applications in fluid dynamics,
financial mathematics, computer vision,
image enhancement, noise removal, shape
detection and recognition, microchip
fabrication, and computer-aided design.
Current modelling methods based on
triangulation do not work well with
surfaces that constantly break apart and
merge, such as the surface of water.
Mitchell has designed numerical algorithms
to solve the Hamilton—Jacobi equation—a
partial differential equation commonly used
to solve optimal control problems—for use
in modelling dynamic surfaces. This technology automatically handles the breaking
and merging in fluid dynamics, and has
been used to model flames, combustion,
detonation, and the motion of shock fronts.
Since coming to UBC, Mitchell has released
an online "tool box" for solving these type
of equations. "Any industry that must keep
track of moving surfaces and follow the
motion of a surface very accurately can
potentially use this technology," he says.
Ian Mitchell can be reached at
604.822.2317 or mitchell@cs.ubc.ca
Fall 2004 Passing Notes:
Congratulations to these ICICS members on their achievements!
New Buildings Nearing Completion
Our new $40-million ICICS building
is scheduled for occupancy this
December. The 8,900 sq. metre Fred
Kaiser Building, formerly the Electrical
and Computer Engineering Building
is scheduled for completion in
February 2005. Watch for a special
building feature in our next issue of
Vijay Bhargava Receives James R. Evans
Avant Garde Award
Professor Vijay Bhargava, head of
Electrical and Computer Engineering,
was awarded the James R. Evans Avant
Garde Award at the IEEE Vehicle
Technology Fall Conference on
September 28, 2004, in Los Angeles, CA.
He was recognized for his outstanding
contributions to the development of
wireless communications.
Mabo Ito Elected Vice-President
ECE professor emeritus Mabo Ito
has been elected vice-president of
the Association of Professional
Engineers and Geoscientists of
British Columbia (APEGBC).
Anne Condon Appointed
NSERC/General Motors Chair
Computer Science professor Anne
Condon has been appointed chair of
a new program (The Jade Project)
designed to increase the participation
of women in science and engineering
in BC and the Yukon. The $700,000
Chair for Women in Science and
Engineering is funded by NSERC and
General Motors of Canada. Condon's
Jade project will encompass four
initiatives, including the development
of an interdisciplinary introduction
to computer science and a bridging
programme that will provide funding
to universities across the province for
initiatives that support women in
science and engineering. See
www.jadeproject.ca for more details.
Joanna McGrenere Receives Anita Borg
Early Career Award
Computer scientist Joanna McGrenere
is the first recipient of the Anita
Borg Early Career Award from the
Committee on the Status of Women in
Computing Research. McGrenere was
chosen for her contributions to the
field of human computer interaction
(HCI) and her commitment to promoting computer science to young women.
Holger Hoos Publishes New Book
on Stochastic Local Search
Computer Science professor Holger
Hoos has recently published Stochastic
Local Search: Foundations and
Applications. The 672-page book, which
provides the first unified view of the
field, was co-authored with Tomas
Stiitzle from Darmstadt University
of Technology, Germany. Their work
provides an extensive review of state-of-
the-art stochastic local search algorithms
and their applications. The book also
comprises a number of research
contributions that represent significant
advances in the analysis and design of
stochastic local search algorithms.
Martha Salcudean Named to Order
of Canada
Mechanical Engineering professor
emerita Martha Salcudean was recently
named to the Order of Canada for her
career contributions to engineering and
her research on fluid flow, heat transfer
and computational fluid dynamics.
Gary Schajer Receives Teaching Award
Mechanical Engineering professor Gary
Schajer was awarded the 2004 Teaching
Award of Excellence in Engineering and
Geoscience Education by the APEGBC.
•IOIOS* 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, Dentistry, Education, Forestry, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Science. ICICS supports the
collaborative computer-oriented research of more than 135 faculty members and over 500 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
Editor:    Gale Ross, ICICS Administrative Assistant
Writers:    Mari-Louise Rowley,
Pro-Textual Communications;
William Knight, Wilyum Creative
Photos:    Janis Franklin, UBC Media Group
Design:    Jarret Kusick, Hitman Creative Media Inc.
Office:    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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