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UBC Publications

Focus 2000

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Advancing Technology for Pulp and Paper Manufacture
By studying the physics and fluid mechanics of wood fibres pulp and then
developing computational equations to simulate how pulp is processed,
James Olson aims to make BC's largest industry more profitable.
When we un-jam paper from a printer, or
hold up a sheet of bond to examine its grain
and texture, we don't usually consider the
contribution each individual fibre makes to
paper quality and durability. Recently
appointed a faculty member in Mechanical
Engineering, a position funded by the
Advanced Papermaking Initiative (API),
James Olson spends most of his working
hours thinking of nothing but.
"The forest industry is the largest
industry in BC by far. It represents 48
percent of our gross domestic product, and
20 percent of that is pulp and paper," says
Olson. "The pulp and paper industry is also
the single largest chemical industry in BC."
With assistance from API, which is
supported by an $8.5-million endowment
from Forest Renewal BC, Olson is able to
devote his time solely to researching and
teaching new technologies for the manufacture of pulp and paper.
Fibre quality analyzer
Olson is no novice to the intricacies of
papermaking. He developed a fibre quality
analyzer that has now become the industry
standard. UBC and Paprican jointly
patented the device, which has a specially
James Olson's pulp fibre quality analyzer won the 1998 University-Industry
Synergy Award. Optest, the manufacturer, has sold nearly 100 of the $100,000
units in 13 countries worldwide.
* •
designed flow cell, a unique optical system,
and simple, touch-screen technology. Olson
also developed the algorithms to run the
analyzer, which measures the length, shape
and concentration of fibres. The device is
very fast and able to analyze seven fibres per
image at 100 images per second (the initial
model ran on a 486 processor). A better
determination of pulp quality means more
quality control in paper manufacturing.
Paprican is the UBC Pulp and Paper
Centre's largest supporting organization,
con tinued on page 2
Fall 2000 Vol. 11, No. 2
Director's Corner 2
Intelligent Systems 3
Haptic Devices 4
Aspect-Oriented Programming 5
Modelling Turbulent Flows 6
Distinguished Lecture Series 8 This issue of FOCUS is particularly
exciting because it features how UBC
and CICSR are reversing the brain
drain. Of the six new faculty members
hired, four have been recruited from
the US, and all are top researchers in
their field.
Cristina Conati is from the University of Pittsburgh, where she began her
research on intelligent systems for
computer-aided learning. Anne
Condon, an expert in computational
complexity and DNA computing, came
to us from the University of Wisconsin.
Gregor Kiczales left his position as
principal scientist with Xerox Pare in
Palo Alto, CA, to assume the new
NSERC-Xerox Canada-Sierra Systems
Industrial Research Chair to further his
work on aspect-oriented programming.
Karon MacLean has pioneered the field
of haptics at MIT and in Silicon Valley.
They all cite the strength of Computer
Science at UBC, the cooperative nature
of research in Canada, and the quality
of life here as their main reasons for
making the move.
Also welcome to Kendal Bushe and
James Olson, two other excellent new
CICSR members who have joined
Mechanical Engineering (ME). Their
respective research in turbulent flows
and fluid mechanics has exciting
industrial applications. We will have six
more new CICSR members (three
from ECE and three from CS) joining
us this fall. Watch for their profiles in
upcoming issues of FOCUS.
Rabab Ward, CICSR Director
Olson: continued from page 1
and it is a prime example of
industry-university collaboration. Olson has the stats
at his fingertips. "Most
people don't realize that 85
percent of the $1.17 million
in annual funding the
Centre receives from
Paprican comes directly
from pulp and paper
manufacturers across
A major part of his
research has been working
with Paprican and CAE to
build systems simulation
tools for designing and
optimizing the screen
systems used in pulp and
paper processing.
Improving screen
plate technology
At first glance, a screen
plate looks like a relatively
simple device—a piece of
metal with a slot cut into it.
While they were originally
designed to filter contaminants—a process called
fractionation—the screens
also separate out longer
fibres. Screen plate manufacturers like CAE try to
find a slot shape that filters
contaminants and allows
fibres to pass through
without excessive clumping
or plugging.
James Olson:"You can't
have a successful forest
industry without a
successful pulp & paper
industry, because all of
it comes from ch ips, or
residue from the
solid wood."
Part of Olson's work is
to use computational fluid
dynamics to try and design
the best screen shape.
However, he notes that
current screen technology
doesn't take advantage of
the fractionation process to
try and separate the
smoother, thinner and
more flexible early wood
fibres from the coarser late
wood fibres. These create
huge gaps, or weaknesses,
in the paper making it too
rough to provide good
printing quality.
For Olson, the real
challenge is in modelling
how fibres flow in a
turbulent fluid in order to
determine how they would
interact with the screen
plate surface, and then to
create the equations to
represent this flow.
"The interaction
between fibre and fluid is
what goes beyond computational fluid dynamics. Any
application will be a large-
scale computational
problem," says Olson.
Obviously, he is ready for
the challenge.
Contact James Olson
at olson@mech.ubc.ca
and (604) 822-5705.
Please join us on September 28,2000 for the first DLS speaker of
the year: Michael Lipsett. Lectures are free and start at 4:00 in room
208 of the  CICSR/CS building, 2366 Main Mall, UBC. Michael
Lipsett is with Syncrude Canada Ltd., and his talk is entitled "Intelligent Industrial Automation: Matching Research Programs to Technology Development Needs." (Seepage 8 for a complete DLS schedule.)
FOCUS Using Intelligent Systems to Facilitate Learning
Cristina Conati uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques to develop
better ways to use computers to model—and assist—the learning process.
How do we learn? What motivates individuals to solve problems and why are some
better at it than others? Today, it is not only
educators and psychologists who are asking
these questions. Experts in AI, such as
Cristina Conati, are designing systems that
can monitor users' interactions and respond
in an adaptive way to individual strengths
and weaknesses, in order to make the learning experience more engaging and effective.
Andes: encouraging self-explanation
Conati started working on AI at the
University of Pittsburgh, where she completed her MSc and PhD in the Intelligent
Systems program. There she participated in
the development of the Andes Project—an
intelligent tutoring system for Newtonian
physics. As part of the project, Conati
developed the SE-Coach, a framework to
encourage self-explanation, the process by
which students explain problems to themselves without the aid of an instructor. Self-
explanation is usually more effective than
explanation provided by others because it
triggers active learning. In other words, a
passive learner has more difficulty understanding and solving a problem, and is not
as apt to experience "eureka—I've got it"
Unfortunately, most students do not self-
explain unless prompted, notes Conati. The
SE-Coach monitors students as they study
with the interface. It then builds a model of
how students understand examples, and
stimulates them to build self-explanations
that improve this understanding.
Adaptable interfaces
Designing interfaces that dynamically
adapt to the user's level of knowledge and
understanding is an important area of
Conati's work, and it has applications in all
types of intelligent systems. If the interface
is too complicated, or interrupts the user too
Cristina Conati is a new member of
CICSR and UBC's department of
Computer Science.
frequently, it can add too much overload to
the user's task and therefore impede rather
than stimulate it. To evaluate the SE-Coach,
Conati had first-year physics students use
the system to study physics examples. The
students were from four different colleges,
and some had started the semester earlier
"One of the goals of my research
is to devise computational models
of teaching & learning that improve
ta-cognitive skills such as self-explanation,
If-monitoring, self-questioning,
& learning by exploration."
than others. One of the observations Conati
made was that those who had spent more
time studying a topic learned better on a
simplified version of the SE-Coach, even
though the results of testing prior to using
the system showed they had the same level
of knowledge as the others.
"They didn't know more, but they felt
they did. Because they spent more time on
the topic they were more comfortable with
it," says Conati. For these students, the
simplified system provided enough stimuli to
help them remember what they weren't able
to in the pre-test. The more complex
interface interfered with their learning,
while it helped significantly those students
who were newer to the topic. "Interface
adaptability is becoming increasingly
important with the growing use of computer
applications throughout many different
populations of users," states Conati.
EGEMS and socially intelligent agents
Since a computer cannot provide the
level of adaptation required to enhance
learning and performance by modelling
cognitive states alone, there has been
continued on page 7
Fall 2000 Haptics—Designing Tactile Interfaces
Karon MacLean uses haptic feedback to make human-computer interactions
more comfortable, informative, powerful—and more pleasant.
As our activities are increasingly mediated
by technology, human-computer interaction
is becoming an inherent part of daily life.
And if we consider how much time we now
spend in front of a keyboard, and the
problems caused by continually using and
positioning our bodies in a certain way, we
can begin to understand the focus of Karon
MacLean's research.
"I like to consider the way things feel and
the way we use energy in a physical sense,
not just an electronic sense," says MacLean,
a new member of CICSR and the Computer Science department. "And I want it to be
more of a two-way flow."
Upon completing her PhD at MIT,
MacLean went to Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, CA, where she led a
group of researchers in designing haptic and
multisensory user interfaces. "Interval was a
wonderful experience because I was working
with a very eclectic group of artists, musicians and sociologists. It really changed my
views of what was possible, and desirable, in
terms of interfaces."
However, after four years in the hyper-
charged, stock-obsessed environment of
Silicon Valley, she was ready to return to
academia. Why UBC? "Canadian universities have a healthy, supportive attitude that
is better for cooperation and collaboration,"
says MacLean. "I like the department and
the people—and, my fiance is here."
Haptic feedback
Haptic feedback, or tactile and force
feedback, refers to the sensations users get
from touching and manipulating "active"
interfaces—devices that use motors or
actuators. The touchable interfaces
MacLean designs are physical, embedded
in objects or the environment around us,
and target real applications. Combined with
a visual display, haptics technology is used in
virtual environments, or to train people for
tasks that require hand-eye coordination.
Prototype haptic-feedback systems exist
for surgeons, scientists, fighter pilots, astronauts, and crane operators. MacLean feels that
these devices also have a place in our everyday
world, with the potential to change the way
we control home environment systems, view
streaming media or drive our cars.
Active haptic feedback is an expensive
feature, and not all interfaces need it. It adds
the most value in "handle" type tasks where
the user maintains continual manual
control, as in steering a vehicle or drawing a
picture. MacLean's belief in more cost- and
energy-efficient technology has led to the
creation of a new, integrated class of tools
that combine these actuated handles with
the "button" types of tasks used in selecting
tools or triggering events.
One example is a drawing system that
allows the user to choose between a physical
brush, chalk or pencil that has been electronically tagged. The user then plugs the
tool into a device that recognizes its physical
properties and transmits the appropriate
sensation of drawing or painting as the
digital image is displayed. MacLean has
recently been working with Immersion
Corporation in San Jose, CA, to develop
inexpensive, high-quality embedded devices.
Working with parasitic power
An avid environmentalist, MacLean is
also concerned with the amount of energy
technology consumes and the environmental impact of batteries. She came up with the
concept of a parasitic haptic display that
collects its power from the user.
continued on page 7
Fbcus Pioneering Aspect-Oriented Programming
Gregor Kiczales is exploring new programming language constructs
to facilitate the design and implementation of complex software systems.
Gregor Kiczales likes to swim against the tide,
and in the world of computer software
engineering, the sea is always turbulent. A
former principal scientist with Xerox PARC
(Palo Alto Research Centre), Kiczales left
the sun of Silicon Valley for the rainforest of
Vancouver to assume the NSERC-Xerox
Canada-Sierra Systems Industrial Research
Chair in Software Design at UBC. Why this
reverse migratory path?
"UBC has a strong Computer Science
Department, and I really wanted the chance
to teach and work with students again. Also,
my wife is from here," he says. In addition
to the research chair, Kiczales says that a
healthy five-year research stipend was an
added incentive.
Beyond object-oriented programming
Kiczales' approach to software engineering research is practical in nature, and he
enjoys and learns from the feedback real
users provide. This sometimes puts him at
odds with more theoretical researchers', but,
as he says,"My goal is to come up with
language constructs that real-world programmers want to use."
Previously, Kiczales worked extensively
with object-oriented programming. Rather
than dealing with programming and data as
separate entities, where a program performs
an action on a collection of data—a relationship often compared to the function of
verbs and nouns in a sentence—object-
oriented programming considers how the
two are interrelated and then groups data,
variables and function into a hierarchy of
"objects." However, the hierarchical structure of object-oriented programming makes
it difficult to deal with systemic concerns
that crosscut different classes of objects.
"The problem with object-oriented
programming is that as systems get large,
more and more concerns arise that cannot
be placed in just one point in the hierarchy.
Programmers cope with this problem by
duplicating code in several places."
Cutting across object hierarchy
Kiczales' approach, and his solution,
seems simple. If a paradigm doesn't work,
change it. If object-oriented
programming can't
support. AOP could also facilitate program
upgrades and product line engineering.
Together with Xerox Canada, Kiczales
and his students also intend to work on
process control. They will research what
happens when you write embedded control
code for chemical processes,
such as those used in
crosscut system
problem that
results in tangled
code and instability—come up with
something that can. At Xerox
PARC, Kiczales developed Aspect J, a
revolutionary language framework based on
aspect-oriented programming (AOP) that
allows programmers to cut across the object
hierarchy. "When you write code in Aspect
J, the language not only helps someone else
coming in to understand it, but it also helps
you to know every place where it applies."
In addition to making programs more
reliable, aspect-oriented programming
addresses concerns such as error checking,
resource sharing, processor optimization,
monitoring and logging, and debugging
"The data structure alone, or the program
alone can't do any real work. What's right about
object-oriented programming is that it breaks
the program down to perform like many tiny
computers all doing discrete tasks."
toner manufacturing. The code
appears to have
some of the
properties that
aspect-oriented programming deals with much better than
previous programming paradigms.
Kiczales notes that Aspect J was developed to be compatible with Java, so compromises were needed to achieve that goal.
"If you were able to start with a clean slate, I
think a useful academic project would be to
see if we could develop something much
more powerful," he says. "My work with
CICSR and UBC will allow me to explore
what AOP means in practice and to make
better AOP languages."
Gregor Kiczales can be reached at
gregor@cs.ubc.ca and (604) 822-4806.
s very interesting artifacts.
On one hand they are a language: they
look like text and they I lave semantics
in the way written text does. But they
are also physical, in that they can be
run to produce behaviour. So they have
both meaning and behc viour."
Fall 2000 Modelling Turbulent Flows to Understand Combustion
Kendal Bushe wants to help mechanical engineers build better, cleaner machines.
Combustion of hydrocarbons is still the
most common source of energy on earth. It
powers most of our machines and is critical
to many engineering applications. And in
almost all practical applications of combustion, the flow in which it takes place is
turbulent. CICSR researcher Kendal Bushe
is developing numerical simulations to study
the complex relationship between turbulence and combustion.
"In order to design an engine, whether
for a car, a jet, a generator, or even a large
turbine for generating electricity directly, we
need to understand combustion," says
Bushe. Since turbulent fluid flow is an
intrinsic aspect of combustion, subtle
changes in the geometry of an engine can
result in an enormous change in ultimate
Until recently, automotive manufacturers
would have several engineers come up with
50 to 100 designs and then build and test
each one, notes Bushe. Over the past ten
years, advances in computing technology,
modelling and rapid prototyping have
reduced the product design process from
seven years to 18 months. However, the
design process still requires many prototypes
to test computer simulations. "I would like
to provide simulations that can be trusted to
give the right answer, to ultimately reduce
the number of prototypes and shorten the
design process," says Bushe.
Large eddy simulation
Most combustion processes, including
those in diesel engines, gas turbines, and
industrial furnaces, occur in a non-premixed
mode. In these reactions, a plume of fuel
spews into a chamber, or the air outside, and
has to mix with oxygen before it can burn.
"Unlike premixed combustion in spark-plug
engines, the focus here is on the mixing, not
the propagation mechanism," says Bushe.
Before coming to joining UBC's Mechanical
Engineering department he worked at the
Center for Turbulence Research in Stanford
on a combustion modelling method called
Conditional Moment Closure that works
particularly well for non-premixed flames,
his special area of expertise.
At Stanford, Bushe also worked on large
eddy simulations. "Turbulence is characterized by eddying motions, or swirling vortices
that have a vast range of scales," he notes.
Turbulence is also a three-dimensional
phenomenon, so to model these large
eddies, such as weather flows or jet streams,
requires millions of data points for velocity,
density, temperature, and composition—in
each direction. He recently received an ASI
Fellowship to continue his work on large
eddy simulation.
Predicting pollution emissions
"There is an enormous challenge right
now to make predictions about carbon
monoxide, nitric oxides and unburned
hydrocarbons," says Bushe. "Also, the ability
to predict soot, or smoke, is very limited."
As part of his work with CICSR, Bushe is
working with Westport Innovations in
Vancouver to do just that. The company is
developing high-pressure direct injection
technology that uses natural gas in diesel
engines. Recently, the US Environmental
Protection Agency proposed a new law to
cut emissions of nitric oxides, particulate
matter and sulphur oxides from diesel
engines by ten times their current levels
by 2007. Westport has one of the few
technologies that can get close to those
In exchange for his simulation and
modelling expertise, Westport has provided
considerable financial, in-kind and research
support. "They are an amazing company,
with great people," says Bushe.  "I am trying
to build a bridge between physicists and
chemists who are using advanced simulation
techniques, and the real-world engineers at
companies like Westport."
Kendal Bushe can be reached at
wkb@mech.ubc.ca and (604) 822-3398.
Making engines more efficient has always
been a critical aspect of an engineer's work.
Recently, the need to predict emissions has
become far more important."
FOCUS CICSR Passing Notes
Q   David Poole (CS) has been
selected as a Fellow of the
American Association for
Artificial Intelligence. AAAI
selects only 5 to 10 new fellows
each year, and we are proud to have a
CICSR member receive such prestigious
Nick Jaeger (ECE) and
NXTPhase Corporation
received the 2000 BC ASI
Technology Partnership Award
for their collaborative work on
optical high-voltage sensors. This year ASI
broke with tradition of only giving an award
to the industry partner by recognizing
Jaeger's contribution. He developed the key
technology used in NxtPhase's Optical
Voltage Transformer (see Focus Spring 2000).
In our last issue of The CICSR News, we
reported that the Society for Canadian
Women in Science and Technology
(SWIST) launched a study to evaluate the
participation of women in science and
technology in BC between 1991 and 1996.
In BC, women comprise only 14.4% of the
high-tech work force. We hope that the
recent number of women appointed to new
IT faculty positions at UBC will help to
reverse this trend.
^^^ Charles Laszlo (ECE), in his
If       ^k     capacity as chairman of
■>   *"■  r*^l     Assistive Listening Device
i-*1- Systems Inc., has won a 2000
National IWAY (Information
Charles Laszlo    Highway) Award for Adaptive
Technologies. He also received
the 1999 Meritorious Achievement Award from the Associa-
I    tion of Professional Engineers
I    and Geoscientists, and the 1999
Science Council Award.
Murray Goldberg (CS) won the
IWAY Application of Technology award as
president of WebCT Canada.
Yusuf Altintas (ME) reports two successful
events on automation and machining. From
May 1-5, 2000, the Manufacturing Automa
tion Laboratory (MAL) gave a course on
CutPro, the advanced machining software
package developed by Yusuf Altintas's research group. The course was attended by
nine engineers from the US, Holland,
Germany, and Canada. From June 28-30,
1999, MAL hosted the 3rd IMS-SIMON
Project Board and Technical Board Meeting.
IMS-SIMON is a research consortium dealing with sensor-fused machining process
monitoring and control. Thirty engineers
and researchers from around the world
attended the meeting to present their research.
In Spring 2000, Clarence de
Silva (ME) received the
IEEE Third Millennium
Medal and the IEEE Canada
Outstanding Engineering
Educator Award.
CICSR welcome two new members this fall:
Tim Menzies, who comes from NASA/West
Virginia University, and Rob Rohling from
ALI Technologies Inc., Vancouver. More
about them in the next issue of Focus.
Conati: continued from pagi
increasing interest in the complex task of
modelling emotional states. Researchers
have been attempting to determine emotional reactions by measuring skin temperature, perspiration, heart rate, or facial
expression with wearable devices. Conati is
working on software tools that can be used
alone or in tandem with physical apparatus
to monitor and model emotional as well as
cognitive response in order to improve the
adaptivity of intelligent systems.
Since her arrival at UBC, she has been
working on various projects for EGEMS
(Electronic Games for Education in Math
and Science). In Avalanche, one of EGEMS
prototype games for collaborative learning,
four players assume the roles of leading
citizens in a mountain resort town and work
together on a set of mathematical puzzles to
try to prevent avalanches. Conati aims to
develop socially intelligent agents, in the
form of characters the students interact with
onscreen, to help them find their way
around the game, and to facilitate constructive learning, reflection and collaboration
while preserving the high level of motivation
and engagement the game generates.
"By providing adaptive support based on
the user's cognitive and emotional states,
these agents can help trigger learning
behaviour—and they can also make sure
that the fun is not impeding the learning."
Cristina Conati can be reached at
conati@cs.ubc.ca and (604) 822-4632.
i at thp ■
MacLean: continued from page 4
She and Prof. Li Shu, a colleague at the
University of Toronto who specializes in
design for remanufacturing, gave a group of
UT undergraduate engineering students the
task of making devices that collected enough
power to charge an AA battery in one hour
without the user changing activity or
expending more energy. MacLean was
amazed at the ingenuity of their devices—
which included kitchen drawers and a dance
floor—and their 100 percent success rate.
Her vision of home and work environments embedded with physical, environ
mentally friendly interfaces is perhaps closer
as a result. "This is a new idea for me, and it
presents a lot of challenges, but it is exactly
the right thing to be working on in a
university setting."
Karon MacLean can be reached at
Fall 2000 CICSR Distinguished Lecture Series
CICSR is hosting its 12th annual Distinguished Lecture Series,
bringing in academic & industrial leaders in the forefront of their fields.
Lectures are free and start at 4:00 in room 208 of the CICSR/CS building, 2366 Main Mall, UBC
September 28,2000
Michael Lipsett, Syncrude Canada Ltd., AB
Intelligent Industrial Automation: Matching Research Programs to Technology Development Needs
October 26,2000 Brian Williams, MIT Space Systems and Artificial Intelligence Laboratories, MA
Model-based Programming of Robotic Space Explorers
Mary Vernon, University of Wisconsin, WI
Scalable Streaming Media Servers
November 30,2000
February2^2001 PeterShor, AT&T, NJ
Quantum Computing
March 29,2001
go De Man, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
Rethinking engineering research and education for post-pc systems-on-a-chip
CICSR Centre for Integrated Computer Systems Research www.cicsr.ubc.ca
The UBC Centre for Integrated Computer Systems Research (CICSR) is an interdepartmental
research organization made up of computer-related research faculty members in the
departments of Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical
Engineering. Currently, there are more than 80 CICSR faculty members who direct over 350
graduate students and collaborate with dozens of industrial firms in areas such as robotics,
artificial intelligence, communications, VLSI design, multimedia, and industrial automation.
Return Address:
CICSR, University of British Columbia
289-2366 Main Mall,Vancouver, BC.V6T 1Z4
Writer:   Mari-Lou Rowley,
Pro-Textual Communications
Design:   William Knight, wilyum creative
Photos:   Janis Franklin,
Biomedical Communications
Office:   University of British Columbia
289-2366 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6T 1Z4
Tel:   (604)822-6894 Fax:(604)822-9013
E-mail:   cicsrinfo@cicsr.ubc.ca
Contact:    Linda Sewell, Publications Coordinator,
CICSR Office


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