News featuring Barbara Micale

Elaheh Raisi and Bert Huang awarded ACM/IEEE Best Paper Award at Sydney conference

Elaheh Raisi, a computer science Ph.D. student in the Discovery Analytics Center and her advisor, Bert Huang, assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science, were recently honored with the Best Paper Award at the 2017 IEEE/Association for Computing Machinery International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining (ASONAM), in Sydney, Australia.

In the paper, entitled “Cyberbullying Detection with Weakly Supervised Machine Learning,” Raisi and Huang propose a machine learning method for simultaneously inferring user roles in harassment-based bullying and new vocabulary indicators of bullying. The learning algorithm considers social structure and infers which users tend to bully and which tend to be victimized. The model estimates whether each social interaction is bullying based on who participates and based on what language is used, and it tries to maximize the agreement between these estimates. The two researchers then evaluate participant vocabulary consistency on three social media data sets, demonstrating quantitatively and qualitatively its effectiveness in cyberbullying detection.

Raisi works at the Machine Learning Lab. Her research interests include machine learning, data mining, and social networks.

Huang’s research investigates machine learning, with a focus on analyzing complex systems. His work addresses topics including structured prediction, probabilistic graphical models, and computational social science.

The international conference on Advances in Social Network Analysis and Mining provides an interdisciplinary venue that brings together practitioners and researchers from a variety of SNAM fields to promote collaborations and exchange of ideas and practices. The 2017 conference addressed important aspects with a specific focus on the emerging trends and industry needs associated with social networking analysis and mining and solicited experimental and theoretical works on social network analysis and mining along with their application to real life situations.

Full papers were reviewed and assessed by the program committee to determine the “Best Paper Award” winner.


Center for American Progress report cites Discovery Analytics Center collaboration with commonwealth of Virginia as example of improving workforce data

People walk through the Oculus at the World Trade Center in New York, June 16, 2017.

A Center for American Progress report on using open data standards to enhance the quality and availability of online job postings has highlighted the Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s Commonwealth Consortium for Advanced Research and Statistics (CCARS) and its work with the Discovery Analytics Center at Virginia Tech to develop the Open Data, Open Jobs Initiative. The goal of the pilot was to capture and publish a real-time structured data feed of all online job postings in Virginia that would serve as a proof of concept.

The dataset was created in large part by Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur, who was also in the governor’s data internship program.

Read the Center for American Progress report here.


DAC Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur invited to speak at CyCon

 Rupinder Paul Khandpur, a DAC Ph.D student in computer science, was invited to speak to a group of analysts at the 2017 International Conference on Cyber Conflict (CyCon). The conference, held in Tallinn, Estonia, focused on the fundamental aspects of cyber security with a theme of Defending the Core.

Khandpur’s presentation discussed how to use open source indicators such as Twitter to rank both cyber and physical threats.

Khandpur’s research concentrates on applied data sciences with an emphasis on event forecasting, threat analytics, and narrative generation using open source data. He was part of the team working on EMBERS, an IARPA OSI (Open Source Indicators) project aimed at forecasting significant societal events (disease outbreaks, civil unrest, elections) from open source datasets. He earned a master’s degree in computational biology from Carnegie Mellon University.

CyCon is organized by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Every year, more than 500 decision-makers and experts from government, military, and industry from all over the world approach the conference’s key theme from legal, technology, and strategy perspectives, often in an interdisciplinary manner.


DAC and BI lead DARPA’s Next Generation Social Science Project

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Brian Goode (left), from the Discovery Analytics Center, and Chris Kuhlman, from the Biocomplexity Institute at Virginia Tech, collaborate on developing models for large-scale social behavior.

DAC and the Biocomplexity Institute are leading a $3 million grant awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as part of the Next Generation Social Science (NGS2) program.  DAC and BI will conduct research that will streamline modeling processes, experimental design, and methodology in the social sciences. A major objective of the project is to make social science experiments rigorous, reproducible, and scalable to large populations.


Graduate certificate in urban computing approved

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Left to right: Hesham Rakha and Huthaifa Ashqar work on a simulation of speed harmonization algorithm on I-66 using INTEGRATION; Scotland Leman and Matt Slifko discuss spatial relationships in the housing market.

New interdisciplinary certificate in urban computing, part of National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Traineeship UrbComp Program, is now available to all Virginia Tech graduate students. Administered through the Discovery Analytics Center, the 12-credit certificate program weaves interdisciplinary applications through new courses and a novel “tapestry” curriculum.

These courses are designed to train students to become competent problem solvers by developing computational models of urban populations from disparate data sources and posing and answering what-if questions via machine learning and visualization methodologies. Students are also trained in the ethical and professional implications of working with massive datasets.  Click here to read more about the certificate.


DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan explores big data analytics to plan for smart cities

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Naren Ramakrishnan, DAC director and professor of computer science.

DAC director, Naren Ramakrishnan, takes part in a VT Engineering team leading a three-year, $1.4 million National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to develop a new planning framework for smart, connected, and sustainable communities.  The team wants smart cities to features zero energy, zero outage, and zero congestion.  They are utilizing big data and interdisciplinary technology as tools to meet that goal.  Click here to read more about the project.


Coverage of DAC Ph.D. student Yaser Keneshloo’s research with Washington Post

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The summation chain around pulleys on Tide Predicting Machine No. 2.

Great coverage of DAC Ph.D. student Yaser Keneshloo’s research in collaboration with the Washington Post on applying data science to predict the popularity of news articles.  Keneshloo and the Post are working on a popularity prediction experiment, they are doing clickstream analysis and producing a pipeline for processing tens of millions of daily clicks, for thousands of articles. Click here to read more about Keneshloo’s project.

 

 


DAC faculty Chandan Reddy wins Best Student Paper at IEEE

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Chandan Reddy (left) and his collaborators from the the Korea University (right).

Congratulations to Chandan Reddy, DAC faculty member and associate professor of Virginia Tech – Computer Science, whose paper in collaboration with Korea University, Boosted L-EnsNMF: Local Topic Discovery via Ensemble of Nonnegative Matrix Factorization, received the Best Student Paper Award at the IEEE Conference on Data Mining! Click here for a full list of awards.


DAC PhD student Saurav Ghosh published in Nature Scientific Reports

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Flow chart depicting the sequential modeling process of EpiNews

DAC PhD student Saurav Ghosh’s work was published in Nature Scientific Reports. His research explores relationships between news coverage and modeling of infectious disease outbreaks

The research is in collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital and University of Washington, Seattle. Click here to read more about Ghosh’s research.


DAC director Naren Ramakrishnan receives grant from Army Research Lab

ece_article_161221_internet_of_battlefield_articleWalid Saad, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering, and Naren Ramakrishnan, and professor of computer science and director of DAC, are leading a $324,000 U.S. Army Research Laboratory grant that is laying groundwork for the Internet of Battlefield Things.

They are developing a planning framework that would present mathematical tools to understand how to transform existing battlefield capabilities into a large-scale IoBT. Click here to read more about the project.


DAC recognized for project in workforce analytics

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Left to right at the Governor’s Workforce Innovation Challenge Datathon 2016 are computer science Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur; Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson; and Wanawsha Hawrami, manager of operations for DAC.

DAC has been recognized for its contributions in a project focused on workforce analytics for Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Open Data, Open Jobs portal.  DAC is playing a key role in the governor’s commitment to improving the labor market in Virginia.

Open Data, Open Jobs is a real-time curation, analysis, and visualization of advertised job postings in Virginia. All curated jobs are published on the DAC’s open data portal, accessible through a publicly available API in machine-readable format, with a unified job posting schema that eliminates the need to navigate separate public and private listings dispersed across multiple sites, such as Monster or LinkedIn.

DAC was on-board from the onset, providing necessary support to harvest, clean, and enrich individual datasets to create the new workforce data product. The dataset was created in large part by DAC Ph.D. student, Rupinder Paul Khandpur, who was also in the governor’s data internship program. Click here to read more about the Open Data, Open Jobs project.


DAC faculty Ed Fox awarded new grant from NSF

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Ed Fox (right) and his Ph.D. students (left).

Ed Fox, DAC faculty member and professor of computer science, takes part in Coordinated, Behaviorally-Aware Recovery for Transportation and Power Disruptions project which was just awarded a Critical Resilient Interdependent Infrastructure Systems and Processes (CRISP) Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The grant is to study behavioral adaptation during disruptive events affecting power and transportation. Click here to read more about the project.


DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan named Inventor of the Month

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Members of the staff of the Discovery Analytics Center. Left to right are Nathan Self, Patrick Butler, and Naren Ramakrishnan.

DAC and director, Naren Ramakrishnan, are featured as this month’s Virginia Tech​ Inventors of the Month by the Office of Research and Innovation for work in Early Model Based Event Recognition using Surrogates (EMBERS) software project.

EMBERS is a fully automated system for forecasting significant societal events, such as influenza-like illness case counts, rare disease outbreaks, civil unrest, domestic political crises, and elections, from open source surrogates. To read more about EMBERS click here.


DAC Alumna Jessica Self raising diversity awareness

selfJessica Zeitz Self, DAC Ph.D. alumna who was was advised by Dr. Chris North, professor of Virginia Tech – Computer Science and associate director of DAC, discusses her experiences at Virginia Tech that allowed her to help decrease the gender gap of women in the field of computer science.

Self became a champion for diversity through efforts such as Women in Computing Day, an event that brings seventh-grade girls to Virginia Tech to learn about computer science in nontraditional ways. Click here to read more about Self’s work.


Liang Zhao named one of Top 20 New Stars in Data Mining

nvc-3Congratulations to Liang Zhao, a recent DAC Ph.D. graduate in computer science, who has been named one of the Top 20 New Starts in Data Mining, provided by Microsoft searching. Liang was advised by Chang-Tien Lu, associate director of DAC and professor of computer science.

Microsoft searching mines the past six years of Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD) submissions and combines the big data from Microsoft to then achieve the ranking by an automatic algorithm. KDD is the top conference in the data mining area. Click here if you’d like to read more.

 


Scotland Leman receives W.J. Youden Award

Scotland lemanCongratulations to Scotland Leman, DAC faculty member and associate professor in the department of statistics, on receiving the W.J. Youden Award in Interlaboratory Testing. Dr. Leman was presented with the award at the 2016 Fall American Statistical Association Technical Conference. The award recognizes the authors of publications that make outstanding contributions to the design and/or analysis of interlaboratory tests or describe ingenious approaching to the planning and evaluation of data from such tests.  Click here to read more about the award.


DAC collaborating with General Dynamics Mission Systems

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Computer science professor Chris North, left, with Ph.D. student, Caleb Reach at DAC’s InfoVis Lab in Torgersen Hall.

DAC is collaborating with General Dynamics Mission Systems on an exciting venture that will help intelligence analysts find important information more quickly.  Chris North, associate director of DAC and professor of computer science, is leading the collaboration from the university side. North’s research group is developing a “smart” software that uses a visual interface and machine learning algorithms to allow the analyst’s interactions with the data to guide future searches. To read more about the partnership click here.


Chandan Reddy receives grant from NSF

user_interest_model[1]Congratulations to Chandan Reddy, our new DAC faculty member and associate professor of computer science for receiving an award from the National Science Foundation for his project EAGER: An Integrated Predictive Modeling Framework for Crowdfunding Environments.  

EAGER aims to study data analytics tools for improving crowdfunding project success rate. Crowdfunding provides seed capital for start-up companies, creating job opportunities and reviving lost business ventures. In spite of the widespread popularity and innovativeness in the concept of crowdfunding, however, many projects are still not able to succeed. A deeper understanding of the factors affecting investment decisions will not only give better success rate to the future projects but will also provide appropriate guidelines for project creators who will be seeking funding.  Click here to read more about Chandan’s project.


DAC helps prepare for Governor’s Workforce Innovation Challenge

DAC Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur (left) and Manager of Operations Wanawsha Hawrami (far right) with Karen Jackson, Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

DAC Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur (left) and DAC Manager of Operations Wanawsha Hawrami (far right) with Karen Jackson, Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia.

DAC Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur (right) explaining the Open Jobs datasets he prepared for the Governor's Workforce Innovation Challenge.

DAC Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur (right) explaining the Open Jobs datasets he prepared for the Governor’s Workforce Innovation Challenge.

As part of DAC’s continued involvement in the Open Data, Open Jobs Initiative, we have collaborated with the Governor’s office in preparing for the Workforce Innovation Challenge held on Aug. 25 – 26.  The datathon is a part of the Governor’s New Virginia Economy initiative. The innovations expected to come out of the datathon will help the commonwealth gain a deeper understanding of the current and future job opportunities in today’s new economy.  DAC Ph.D student played a crucial role in preparing and harvesting the Open Jobs datasets used by participants in the datathon to develop apps. Click here to learn more about the datathon.  


Edward Fox receives XCaliber Award

Edward Fox and his Ph.D. students at the DAC lab in Torgersen Hall.

Edward Fox and his Ph.D. students at the DAC lab in Torgersen Hall.

Congratulations to Edward Fox, DAC faculty member and professor in the department of computer science on receiving Virginia Tech’s 2016 XCaliber Award.  Edward is being recognized for his extraordinary contributions to technology enriched active learning.  More specifically for his new computer science courses, CS 4984, Computational Linguistics and CS 5604, Informational Retrieval.  The XCaliber Award is given to faculty and staff who integrate technology in teaching and learning, celebrating innovative and student-centered teaching.  Click here to read more about the award.


DAC welcomes new faculty member, Chandan Reddy

reddy1-updatedDAC welcomes our new faculty member, Chandan Reddy, who was appointed to associate professor in the Department of Computer Science.  Chandan is joining us from Wayne State University where he was the director of the Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery (DMKD) Laboratory.  His primary research interests are data mining and machine learning with applications to healthcare analytics, social network analysis and bioinformatics.  Chandan is joined by two Ph.D. students, Ping Wang and Tian Shi.  Click here to learn more about Chandan.


Gov. Terry McAuliffe highlights DAC’s work in Open Data, Open Jobs initiative

Map showing geographical distribution of job postings in Virginia, featured on opendata.cs.vt.edu

Map showing geographical distribution of job postings in Virginia, featured on opendata.cs.vt.edu.

Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe’s office has sent out a press release announcing Open Data, Open Jobs; a groundbreaking data analytics initiative to better connect job seekers to job opportunities.  DAC Ph.D. student Rupinder Paul Khandpur has been working on this project via the Governor’s Big Data Internship Program (GDIP), a part of the Governor’s New Virginia Economy Workforce Initiative.  The project is an initiative of the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Research and Statistics (CCARs), a virtual center for modeling innovation approaches for improving and using labor market, workforce, and education data. To read more about Open Data, Open Jobs click here.


Congratulations to our 2016 DAC Graduates!

graduations copyAs the dust settles from graduation, DAC would like to recognize the students who have graduated this year.  DAC is proud to have had eight graduate students complete their degrees this spring semester; seven of which received a Ph.D. and one receiving a Master’s of Science. Below we highlight our students who are now prepared to assume roles as faculty members, researchers, and data analysts. We look forward to their contribution to the field data science and cannot wait to see what they achieve from here. Congratulations!

Harsh Agrawal received a Master’s of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering.  His thesis was titled ‘CloudCV: Deep Learning and Computer Vision on the Cloud.’ His research focuses on problems at the intersection of computer vision and machine learning.  Harsh built CloudCV which is a large scale cloud system with the aim to democratize computer vision and deep learning algorithms and make it accessible to anybody who wants to apply computer vision to their research or software applications. He will now be joining Snapchat as a research engineer where he hopes to apply computer vision and deep learning to build the next generation mobile communication app.

Marcos Carzolio received a Ph.D. in Statistics. His research is on a selection of Markov chain Monte Carlo methods for large scale inference and big data. Specifically, he is developing a new algorithm called weighted particle tempering, and applying it and another algorithm called reversible jump Markov chain Monte Carlo to average over free B-spline models for a dataset about child development in rural Mozambique. Marcos will be working at Goldman Sachs Asset Management in New York City as a strategist.

Pritwish Chakroborty received a Ph.D. in Computer Science.  His thesis focused on formalizing disease forecasting models using open source indicators.  Disease surveillance is often delayed an unstable; however, real time information about diseases could be obtained from sources such as news and weather. Pritwish built a number of statistical models borrowing principles from GLM, MCMC and Matrix Factorization methods to build forecasting models for endemic diseases such as Flu and CHIKV.  He also built and managed the endemic disease forecasting framework which was used to send continuous forecasts to IARPA and CDC. Pritwish will be joining IBM Watson Health, USA where he will shift focus to more micro level disease models towards personal health.

Andy Hoegh received a Ph.D. in Statistics.  His dissertation research focused on statistical algorithms for fusing predictions from a set of models with the primary goal of predicting instances of civil unrest. In the fall he will be starting as an assistant professor of statistics in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Montana State University.

Fang Jin received a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Her dissertation is about mass movements and their adoptions in social media. Her work includes how to capture mass movements diffusion patterns across a wide geographical area, how to detect events based on group anomalies, how to distinguish real movements from rumors, etc.

Marjan Momtazpour received a Ph.D. in Computer Science.  Her thesis was titled the ‘Knowledge Discovery for Sustainable Urban Mobility’. She has published several papers in the areas of Energy Management, Urban Infrastructure Investment, Anomaly Detection in urban transportation, and Outlier Detection in time series of general cyber-physical systems. She plans to join Microsoft  Data Platform group located in Redmond,WA.

Jessica Zeitz Self received a Ph.D. in Computer Science. Her dissertation focused on designing and evaluating object-level interaction to support human-model communication in data analysis. She is joining the Computer Science Department at the University of Mary Washington as an Assistant Professor this fall.

Maoyuan Sun received a Ph.D. in Computer Science.  His research interests include Visual Analytics, Information Visualization, Human Computer Interaction, Human Centered Machine Learning and Usable Security. In his Ph.D. dissertation, Maoyuan explores the design space of bicluster visualizations to support coordinated relationship exploration. Maoyuan has accepted a tenure-track faculty position offer from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  He will start working as an assistant professor in the Computer & Information Science Department, College of Engineering this coming fall.

 

 


Chang-Tien Lu promoted to professor

CT LuCongratulations to DAC associate director, Chang-Tien Lu, who has been promoted to full professor in the department of computer science.  Dr. Lu is an ACM Distinguished Scientist.  His research focuses on data management to fulfill emerging requirements for storing, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data. To read more about this years promotions, click here.


Edward Fox and Virginia Tech researchers earn grant to study big data sharing and reuse

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Edward Fox (right) and DAC students.

Congratulations to Edward Fox, professor of computer science and DAC faculty member, who is among a group of Virginia Tech researchers collaborating with Virginia Tech Libraries that has recently been awarded a $308, 175 National Leadership Grant for Libraries from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  The team will be exploring effective ways of storing and reusing bid data.

 

“The IMLS grant will allow contrasting use of the cloud with local infrastructures, like ours that is tailored for integrating focused crawling from the web, tweet collection, collaboration with the Internet Archive, and advanced methods of machine learning, natural language processing, information retrieval, digital libraries, archiving, visualization, and human-computer interaction,” said Fox. To learn more about the grant click here.


Bert Huang presents at CCC Symposium

PastedGraphic-1Bert Huang, DAC faculty member and assistant professor of computer science, presented a poster at the Computer Computing Consortium Symposium on Addressing National Priorities and Societal Needs.  Dr. Huang presented his research on machine learning for cyberbullying, specifically weakly supervised cyberbullying detecting in social media. Click here to watch a video of his presentation.

 


DAC now offering a new graduate certificate in data analytics

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Left to right, computer science Professor Chris North explains dimensionality reduction methods for interactive visual text analytics to Ph.D. students Jessica Self and Maoyuan Sun. This is one of the topics covered for the new graduate certificate in data analytics.

DAC is proud to announce that we will now be offering a new graduate certificate in data analytics.  The certificate is offered collaboratively by Virginia Tech’s departments of computer science, statistics, and electrical and computer engineering.  The 12-credit program will be open to students both in Blacksburg and the National Capital Region.  It will better prepare students for careers in data analytics and data science, one of the nation’s fastest growing fields.  For more information about our certificate in data analytics, click here.


DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan gives keynote talk at Pacific Asia Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Conference

DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan at PAKDD 2016.

DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan at PAKDD 2016.

DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan gave the opening keynote talk at the Pacific Asia Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining Conference on April 20, which was held in Auckland, New Zealand this year.  Dr. Ramakrishnan provided overview and perspectives about DAC’s EMBERS project aimed at a data mining audience. To learn more about the conference, click here.


DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan edits IEEE Computer’s magazine

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Cover of IEEE Computer’s April 2016 issue

DAC Director Naren Ramakrishnan guest edits IEEE Computer’s April 2016 issue, which is focused on Big Data.  Dr. Ramakrishnan guested edited along with Ravi Kumar from Google.  Read the issue to explore the latest in databases, algorithms, and applications of big data here.


DAC takes part in study expected to measure region’s growth in entrepreneurship

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Khaled Hussein is co-founder and chief technology officer of California-based technology company Tilt, which opened an office in Blacksburg last year. Hussein and seven other employees are Virginia Tech alums.

DAC, in collaboration with Virginia Tech’s Office of Economic Development, is taking part in an important study to measure the Roanoke and Blacksburg region’s growth in entrepreneurship. DAC will provide an analysis of entrepreneurs’ social-media use in the hopes of promoting jobs and entrepreneurship in the region. To read more about the study, click here.


DAC’s Brian Goode judges Northern Virginia Science and Engineering Fair

brian-updatedDAC was happy to participate again this year at the local science and engineering fairs. Brian Goode, DAC research scientist, served as a judge at the Northern Virginia Science and Engineering Fair at Wakefield High School in Arlington. To read more about Virginia Tech’s involvement in the science fair, click here.


Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra discuss artificial intelligence on WVTF Public Radio

Demonstration on of VQA project.

Demonstration on of VQA project.

DAC faculty members Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra interview wit WVTF Public Radio and RADIO IQ to discuss their leading efforts in the artificial intelligence community. Parikh and Batra shared insight into their Visual Question and Answering (VQA) project, which tackles the next frontier in artificial intelligence, which is teaching computers to ‘see,’ that is, to recognize unique objects the way humans do. To hear Parikh and Batra’s interview, click here.

 

 

 


DAC’s Aditya Prakash co-authored a book titled “The Global Cyber-Vulnerability Report”

Prakash-updatedDAC faculty member, Aditya Prakash has co-authored a book titled “The Global Cyber-Vulnerability Report,” in collaboration with the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.

This book establishes metrics to measure cyber-vulnerability of countries and quantify the cyber-vulnerability of countries. In addition, it offers useful data-driven policy advice for law-makers and policy-makers in each country. It is also the first that uses cyber-vulnerability data to explore the vulnerability of over four million machines per year, covering a two-year period as reported by Symantec. Analyzing more than 20 billion telemetry reports comprising malware and binary reputation reports, this book quantifies the cyber-vulnerability of 44 countries for which at least 500 hosts were monitored.

Click here for more info about “The Global Cyber-Vulnerability Report.”


Devi Parikh receives the Office of Naval Research Young Investigators Award

Devi ParikhDevi Parikh, DAC faculty member and assistant professor of the department of electrical and computer engineering received the Office of Naval Research Young Investigators Award, one of the oldest and most selective scientific research advancement programs in the country!

Parikh is being recognized for her exceptionally creative research which holds promise across a range of naval-relevant science and technology areas. Click here to read more about her award.

 


DAC Associate Director Chris North Awarded a Grant from Microsoft

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Chris North with DAC Ph.D. students from the InfoVis Lab.

DAC associate director, Chris North, along with other Virginia Tech researchers led by Joseph Gabbard, associate professor in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, received a grant from Microsoft for the amount of $100,000.  The grant will be used to explore the potential uses of its HoloLens devices for advancing research in the area of mixed reality and the possibilities of holographic computing. The team of researchers includes faculty from theInstitute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology and the Center for Human-Computer Interaction.  To read more about this grant click here.


DAC’s collaboration with the Washington Post gets noticed

Yaser_Keneshloo-updatedThe Washington Post director for Big Data and Personalization, Sam Han, discussed the Post’s collaboration with DAC at the Predictive Analytics Innovation Summit in San Diego this past weekend.  Yaser Keneshloo, DAC Ph.D. student, has been working with the Post on improving user experience by predicting the popularity of a news article.  His work allows editors to prioritize stories, identify under-performing articles for content variable testing, and supports advertising opportunities.  To read more about Sam Han’s presentation click here


Devi Parikh receives NSF CAREER Award

Devi ParikhDevi Parikh, DAC faculty member and assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for her Visual Question Answering (VQA) research, a system of using images to teach a computer to respond to any question that might be asked. The CAREER grant is NSF’s most prestigious award, given to junior faculty members who are expected to become academic leaders in their field.  To read more about Parikh’s award click here.


Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra’s Work in AI Featured in Newsweek

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Dhruv Batra (left) and Devi Parikh (right) are developing Visual Question Answering Capability for computers. Visual machine perception requires powerful computation capability. The team shares 500- core CPU cluster, each an order of magnitude more powerful than a laptop, and a GPU cluster.

DAC faculty members and assistant professors of ECE, Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra’s project on Learning Common Sense through Visual Abstractions was featured in Newsweek. The article focuses on an artificial intelligence algorithm they trained to understand and predict visual humor, representing a major development towards creating “common sense” machines.  Read more about Devi and Dhruv’s algorithm here.


Chang-Tien Lu Named ACM Distinguished Scientist

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Chang-Tein Lu, Associate Director of DAC and Associate Professor of Computer Science became an Association for Computing Machinery Distinguished Scientist.  ACM is the world’s leading association of computing professionals. As a distinguished member, Chang-Tein, is recognized as an innovative leader in the field of computing.  To read more about ACM click here.

 


Chang-Tien Lu leads Virginia Tech in NSF Big Data Innovation Hub

Virginia Tech graduate students use a display wall in the Discovery Analytics Center to view epidemiological simulations of disease outbreaks in a city, one of the many big data applications that will be studied in the Big Data Innovation Hub.

Virginia Tech graduate students use a display wall in the Discovery Analytics Center to view epidemiological simulations of disease outbreaks in a city, one of the many big data applications that will be studied in the Big Data Innovation Hub.

Chang-Tien Lu, associate professor of computer science and associate director of DAC is leading Virginia Tech as it takes part in a multi-university effort to apply big data solutions to regional challenges. Chang-Tien will be playing a vital role in the university’s broad-base collaboration on the project, an initiative supported by the National Science Foundation that brings together research universities across the south to develop a Big Data Regional Innovation Hub.  Read more about Chang-Tien’s part in this project here.


Kurt Luther and Chris North awarded NSF Grant

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Kurt Luther (left), Chris North (right)

Chris North, professor of computer science and associate director of DAC, and Kurt Luther, assistant professor of computer science were awarded a $500,000 grant from NSF over three years from its cyber-human system program area.  The grant focuses on using crowdsourcing to help analyze big data and solve problems. Crowdsourcing, in this sense, means soliciting contributions of data from a large group of people, most of whom are online users. To read more about Kurt and Chris’s project click here.


Lenwood Heath receives NSF PIRE Award

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Lenwood Heath, a professor of computer science and faculty member of DAC is of a part group of faculty members at Virginia Tech awarded a five-year $3.6 million Partnerships in International Research and Education (PIRE) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) that is aimed at mitigating the global threat of antibiotic resistance spread through the contact or consumption of contaminated water.  Disease free water is a global health challenge that commands an international team effort.  To read more about this project click here.


NSF funds UrbComp, program focused on big data and urbanization

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DAC will create and administer a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. certificate program called UrbComp, which is set to launch in spring 2016.  The UrbComp Ph.D. certificate is focused on big data and urbanization through a $3 grant over five years from the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship Program. UrbComp will be open to students from both the Blackburg and National Capital Region campuses who are pursuing a Ph.D. in one of eight departments: computer science, mathematics, statistics, electrical and computer engineering, population health sciences, urban affairs and planning, civil and environmental engineering, or sociology. To read more about the program click here.


Aditya Prakash works on collaborative project about the Russian flu epidemic

Aditya Prakash (left), Amy Nelson, and Tom Ewing are collaborators on the Russian flu project.

Aditya Prakash (left), Amy Nelson, and Tom Ewing are collaborators on the Russian flu project.

DAC faculty member Aditya Prakash, an assistant professor in the department of computer science is working on a multi-disciplinary project about the Russian flu epidemic of the late 19th century.  He is working with faculty in the department of history, specifically professor Tom Ewing and associate professor Amy Nelson.  They have received a $175,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for their research and are collaborating with the Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany t0 examine medical discussion and news reporting during the epidemic.  To read more about this project click here.


DAC faculty member Ravi Tandon receives tenure-track assistant professorship

Ravi_newsResearch assistant professor Ravi Tandon has joined the University of Arizona on a tenure-track assistant professorship. Congratulations to Ravi! While at DAC, his research focused on information-theory based approaches to data analytics and forecasting. He participated in the IARPA-supported EMBERS project where he developed new quickest event detection and social media analytics approaches. DAC bids him a fond farewell with best wishes for his career! Read more


Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra receive another Google Research Award

Dhruv Batra (left) and Devi Parikh (right) are developing Visual Question Answering Capability for computers. Visual machine perception requires powerful computation capability. The team shares 500- core CPU cluster, each an order of magnitude more powerful than a laptop, and a GPU cluster.

Dhruv Batra (left) and Devi Parikh (right) are developing Visual Question Answering Capability for computers. Visual machine perception requires powerful computation capability. The team shares 500- core CPU cluster, each an order of magnitude more powerful than a laptop, and a GPU cluster.

Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra, DAC faculty members and assistant professors of electrical and computer engineering have received another Google Research Award in the amount of $92,000 for their Visual Question Answering (VQA) project. This is Parikh’s third Google Research grant, and Batra’s second. The grant will be to develop a new approach in teaching computers to understand images with the goal of enabling the computer to provide a natural-language answer to a specific question.  To read more about the grant click here.

 


Aditya Prakash receives one of only ten Facebook Faculty Award

badityap-portraitCongratulations to Aditya Prakash on his Facebook Faculty Award, one of only 10 such awards given this year! The award will support novel information diffusion related research focusing on understanding, predicting and countering virality on social-media websites and platforms. For example, some of the questions Aditya will study include: “What content could go viral? How much and when? Given a context, how to identify and counter negative viral campaigns?” Look forward to exciting results from this research!


DAC/CS PhD student Saurav Ghosh wins best paper award at SIAM Data Mining 2015

myselfCongratulations to Saurav Ghosh! The DAC/CS Ph.D. student co-authored SourceSeer: Forecasting Rare Disease Outbreaks Using Multiple Data Sources“, which garnered the Best Paper Award at the SIAM International Conference on Data Mining held in Vancouver, Canada.

The study described in the paper was led by Theodoros Rekatsinas, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science, University of Maryland, College Park. In addition to Rekatsinas and Ghosh, the other authors of the paper include Sumiko R. Mekaru, Children’s Hospital Informatics Program, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; Elaine O. Nsoesie and John S. Brownstein, Children’s Hospital Informatics Program, Boston Children’s Hospital and Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Lise Getoor, Professor of Computer Science, University of California Santa Cruz; and Naren Ramakrishnan, Thomas L. Phillips Professor of Engineering and director, Discovery Analytics Center, Department of Computer Science, Virginia Tech. Read the Virginia Tcch news release.


VQA Project Featured in Bloomberg Business

DAC Assistant Professors Dhruv Batra and Devi Parikh discuss their Visual Question Answering (VQA) project with students from thier Computer Vision Lab

DAC Assistant Professors Dhruv Batra and Devi Parikh discuss their Visual Question Answering (VQA) project with students from thier Computer Vision Lab

DAC faculty members and assistant professors of electrical and computer engineering, Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra’s project on artificial intelligence in collaboration with Microsoft, Visual Question Answering (VQA), was featured in Bloomberg Business. Visual Question Answering is a new dataset containing open-ended questions about images. The system takes an image as an input and a question about that image, then produces an answer as an output.  To read more of the article click here.


Samah Gad, DAC (CS) PhD graduate, and Hussein Ahmed launch a successful startup

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Hussein Ahmed (left), middle? , Samah Gad (right)

Transpose, a new Seattle startup that bills itself as a holistic information management platform, today announced a $1.5 million funding round. Transpose is the brainchild of Samah Gad, DAC (CS) PhD graduate and Hussein Ahmed also a CS PhD graduate. Formerly known as KustomNote, the nine-person company has developed software that helps customers create structure and pull intelligence from large sets of data across all devices.

Seattle-based venture capital firm Founder’s Co-op led the round, which also included participation from Alliance of Angels and New York-based The Gramercy Fund.

The startup, which graduated from Seattle-based B2B accelerator 9MileLabs this past November, originally built structured note-taking templates that helped customers record, store, retrieve, and share custom-structured notes.

Now, Transpose has evolved to also pull insights from unstructured data, files, and voice recordings by using cloud-based data retrieval technologies and text analytics.

Tranpose CEO Hussein Ahmed said there are more than 90,000 users on the platform, including employees from companies like Apple, Walmart, and Heineken. Clients use the system to do everything from storing and tracking wine collections, to organizing schedules and vaccinations for children.

“It’s a complete do-it-yourself solution for consumers and teams in enterprises to build their very own solution to track assets, manage leases, or sales leads,” Ahmed explained. Read more at


Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra receive COE Outstanding New Assistant Professor Awards

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DAC faculty members Devi Parikh and Dhruv Batra, assistant professors of electrical engineering received Outstanding New Assistant Professor Awards.  They were presented with the awards at the eighteenth annual Virginia Tech College of Engineering faculty reception.  They were awarded for teaching innovation, research, service, and outreach for 2015.  To read more about their awards click here. 


Dhruv Batra’s upcoming CVPR work covered in the Boston Globe

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In the online, big data world, it’s important to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. This is true when it comes to refining search results and culling a Twitter feed, and it’s true with photographs, too. Dhruv Batra’s latest innovation recently posted to arXiv.org takes advantage of all sorts of social and technological cues to figure out who really matters in an image. “We have the ability to look at a scene and, just by coding what people are doing, how people are looking at each other, we can get a sense of the important actors,” says Dhruv Batra, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and creator of the program, along with graduate student and lead designer Clint Solomon Mathialagan and Andrew Gallagher, an engineer at Google. Read more. 


Newsweek profiles DAC’s EMBERS project

One of the many protests against the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, May 15, 2014.

One of the many protests against the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo, May 15, 2014.

Newsweek profiles the Discovery Analytics Center’s EMBERS Project, which is funded by IARPA.  EMBERS offers a glimpse into just how much “big data” has changed the game by magnifying the U.S. intelligence community’s ability to forecast—with phenomenal accuracy—human behavior on a global scale by scouring Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, Tumblr, Tor, Facebook and more. EMBERS is using algorithms and a variety of advanced tools to sort through dense and complex information for patterns in the chaos—patterns that frequently point to events before they happen, such as civil uprisings, disease outbreaks, humanitarian crises, mass migrations, protests, riots, political routs, even violence. Click here to read more.


Big- Data Project on 1918 Russian Flu Highlights DAC Collaboration with Humanities Researchers

Soldiers with the Spanish flu are hospitalized inside the U. of Kentucky gym in 1918. In one prevention method examined in a new study, New Yorkers were advised to refrain from kissing “except through a handkerchief.”

Soldiers with the Spanish flu are hospitalized inside the U. of Kentucky gym in 1918. In one prevention method examined in a new study, New Yorkers were advised to refrain from kissing “except through a handkerchief.”

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Education today highlights possibilities in interdisciplinary research between data analysts and humanities researchers. It showcases DAC’s Digging into Data project as a “model-in-progress for how data-driven analysis and close reading can enhance each other”. The research focuses on several questions: How did reporting on the Spanish flu spread in 1918? And how big a role did one influential person play in shaping how the outbreak was handled? Read More


DAC student Sathappan Muthiah receives Deployed Application Award at IAAI

sathappan-updatedCongratulations to DAC/CS PhD Student Sathappan Muthiah on receiving Deployed Application Award at IAAI (Conference on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence) 2015 for his paper “Planned Protest Modeling in News and Social Media“. The CS department also recognized his work with a Pratt fellowship for Spring 2015 – Congratulations twice!


CT Lu receives grant from the US Army

nvc-11Chang-Tien Lu, associate director of DAC and associate professor of computer science has been awarded a $300,000 subcontract from the United States Army Research Office and United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center.  He will use the grant to develop an automated tool to make sense of data captured in news articles, tweets, images, and audio and video streams.

Naren Ramarkishnan, director of DAC and professor of computer science along with Ing-Ray Chen, also a professor of computer science are co-principle investigators of the grant.  They will help Lu oversee the projects research.  To read more about grant click here.

 


The EMBERS is featured on the cover of the Big Data Journal (Dec 2014 issue)

Venezuelan Spring EMBERS predictions

As featured in the Big Data Journal: “Forecasting has long been a mystic art with techniques shrouded in mystery. Approaches from big data and machine learning are now revolutionizing the science of predictive analytics. The EMBERS system has been producing early warnings of civil unrest across Latin America for over two years. In February 2014, EMBERS forecast the occurrence and spread of student-led protests in Venezuela days in advance. For more information, please see the article by Doyle and colleagues in this issue of Big Data.” Read more


Press Coverage on Devi Parikh’s work in AI

Devi Parikh

Devi Parikh, assistant professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering and DAC faculty member received close to $1 million “to teach machines to use ‘common sense’ in image analysis.” Parikh, who leads the Computer Vision Lab at Virginia Tech, is the recipient of the Allen Distinguished Investigator Award from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. She’s using the money to help computers “read” complex images with the use of cartoon clip art scenes. To read more about Devi’s grant click here.

 


Devi Parikh’s award featured in VTNews

Devi Parikh

Devi Parikh, an assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and DAC faculty member at Virginia Tech, has received an Allen Distinguished Investigator Award for close to $1 million from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to teach machines to use “common sense” in image analysis. Parikh uses cartoon scenes crafted from clip art to help computers “read” complex images. “Humans interpreting visual scenes can take advantage of basic knowledge about how objects typically interact, but computers,” Parikh said, “don’t have the same skill”.

“The visual world around us is bound by common sense laws depicting birds flying and balls moving once they’ve been kicked, but much of this knowledge is hidden from the eyes of a computer,” she said. Computers, in other words, might have a lot of information about avian wing structure, but they don’t necessarily know that birds fly.

“Simply labeling images with this information does not address the underlying problem of how it all fits together,” said Parikh. “We need a dense sampling of the visual world to understand how subtle changes in the scene can change its overall meaning.”

Parikh proposes to use crowdsourcing, leveraging hundreds of thousands of Amazon Mechanical Turk workers (or “Turkers”) online to illustrate the visual world using clip art.

The Turkers will use clip art to create scenes with visual features and basic written depictions of what’s going on. By learning to associate certain visual elements with the information in the text, the computer may eventually accumulate a lexicon of common sense that will help it understand the visual world like humans do.

“These clip art scenes will serve as a completely new and rich test bed for computer vision researchers interested in solving high-level AI problems,” said Parikh, who will be collaborating with Larry Zitnick and Margaret Mitchell at Microsoft Research. Zitnick is in the Interactive Visual Media group and Mitchell specializes in Natural Language Processing.

“Learning common sense will make our machines more accurate, reasonable and interpretable — all imperative towards integrating artificial intelligence into our lives and society at large,” said Parikh.

So while machines today can play chess, vacuum floors, and win at Jeopardy, Parikh’s research could take them a step closer to being intelligent entities. That’s critical for a variety of artificial intelligence applications — be it for personal assistants, health care, autonomous driving, or security, such as law enforcement or disaster recovery purposes.

The award is part of the Allen Distinguished Investigators Program, which was established to advance ambitious, breakthrough research in key areas of science. Parikh is also a recipient of the Army Research Office Young Investigator Award, and of two Google Faculty Research Awards.

Parikh leads the Computer Vision Lab at Virginia Tech. She is also a member of theDiscovery Analytics Center, which has operations on the Blacksburg campus and also at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington. The center is housed in the Department of Computer Science within the College of Engineering. She is also a member of the Virginia Center for Autonomous Systems at Virginia Tech. Both centers benefit from the support of theInstitute for Critical Technology and Applied Science for their interdisciplinary research.

A premier Research Institute of Virginia Tech, the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science ensures a sustainable future by advancing transformative, interdisciplinary research at the intersections of engineering, the humanities, and the physical, life, and social sciences.

Devi Parikh has been named a 2014 Allen Distinguished Investigator

Devi Parikh, Asst Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Congratulations to Devi Parikh who has been named a 2014 Allen Distinguished Investigator! Devi’s work will impart common sense reasoning to computers to accomplish human-like visual recognition. She is in great company! Read More


Parang Saraf’s VAST grand challenge award is the NCR highlight of the week

Parang Saraf

Parang Saraf, a DAC/CS Ph.D. student in the National Capital Region, recently accepted the VAST Challenge 2014 Grand Challenge Award for Effective Analysis and Presentation in Paris, France. The VAST Challenge provides an opportunity for visual analytics researchers to test their innovative thoughts on approaching problems in a wide range of subject domains against realistic datasets and problem scenarios. The award was presented during the IEEE Vis Conference, where Saraf spoke for 30 minutes about the team’s solution to the challenge.

The VAST Challenge provides an opportunity for visual analytics researchers to test their innovative thoughts on approaching problems in a wide range of subject domains against realistic datasets and problem scenarios.

The award was presented during the IEEE Vis Conference, where Saraf spoke for 30 minutes about the team’s solution to the challenge.

Saraf led the winning Virginia Tech team which also included Patrick Butler, a recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Computer Science in Blacksburg who is currently working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

VAST Challenge 2014 was comprised of three Mini-Challenges and one Grand Challenge. The data sets included unstructured news articles, email headers, GPS data, financial transaction data and real-time streaming data. Only the teams who finished all three mini challenges were allowed to submit to the grand challenge.

In total there were 77 submissions for all the challenges and only seven teams progressed to the Grand Challenge. The Virginia Tech team submitted to all three Mini-Challenges and in addition to the Grand Challenge Award, won an honorable mention for Effective Presentation in Mini-Challenge 2.

Saraf’s research area is data mining with specific interests in social media analytics and data visualization. He works on theOpen Source Indicators (OSI) EMBERS project supervised by Discovery Analytics Center Director Naren Ramakrishnan at the Virginia Tech Research Center — Arlington.


EMBERS Featured in Virginia Tech Magazine

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The EMBERS project, sponsored by IARPA was featured in a major spread of the Virginia Tech Magazine.

Through the use of big data, Naren Ramakrishnan and his team from the computer science department’s Discovery Analytics Center (DAC) may make forecasting the future as commonplace as forecasting the weather.

The term “big data” refers to the use of algorithms and other tools to train computers to spot trends in collections of information that are too massive and complex to analyze with traditional methods. The proliferation of data has accelerated with the integration of computers into our daily lives, from social media on our phones to tracking buying habits at the grocery store.

Virginia Tech’s efforts stand at the forefront of the big data movement, with labs and professors across the commonwealth conducting increasingly data-driven research as the university looks to build additional capacity for future initiatives. Maintaining a strong presence in Blacksburg as well as in the National Capital Region allows for significant collaborations in the domains of intelligence analysis, national security, and health informatics.

“To Virginia Tech’s researchers, big data represents an important opportunity to create knowledge and provide insight by leveraging large, potentially unstructured data sets,” said Scott Midkiff, the university’s vice president for information technology and chief information officer and a professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Projects like DAC’s EMBERS and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute’s (VBI) Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory (NDSSL), which simulates disasters to evaluate emergency response and disaster preparedness policies, are telling examples of big data’s potential. Read more. 


Analysis by DAC CS PhD candidate Prithwish Chakraborty about the US flu season

prithwish-updatedPrithwish Chakraborty, DAC/CS PhD student is helping organize the Flu Forecasting questions on the SciCast prediction market  (https://scicast.org/flu) this year. Participants are required to predict several flu season characteristics, at national and at regional levels (10 HHS regions). Read his analysis


Briefing to VA Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson and Sen Mark Warner’s staff

Naren Ramakrishnan

Naren Ramakrishnan, director of the Discovery Analytics Center and Bryan Lewis, public health policy analyst, Network Dynamics and Simulation Science Laboratory, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, presented research being done in their respective laboratories in a briefing to Virginia Secretary of Technology Karen Jackson. Senator Mark Warner’s staff were also in attendance. It was a great opportunity to brief them and present DAC’s cutting-edge research in forecasting and analytics.

Karen Jackson, Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia, was welcomed to the Virginia Tech Research Center – Arlington, Monday, Oct. 27, for a briefing on national security and data sciences research taking place in the National Capital Region.

“This visit was an excellent opportunity to brief Secretary Jackson on a number of programs in cyber and national security, data analytics, and complex systems modeling and simulation, including capabilities that could help the Commonwealth prepare and respond to future challenges, such as cyber attacks on critical infrastructure and public health emergencies, such as an Ebola outbreak,” said Sanjay Raman, associate vice president for the National Capital Region.

Read More


Visual Analytics Team Awarded $1 Million NSF Grant

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Members of the Visual Analytics team include (from left) Xinran Hu, Chris North, Leanna House, Scotland Leman, Lauren Bradel, Jessica Zeitz Self, and Ian Crandell.

Big Data: Everyone wants to use it; but few can. A team of researchers at Virginia Tech is trying to change that.

In an effort to make Big Data analytics usable and accessible to nonspecialist, professional, and student users, the team is fusing human-computer interaction research with complex statistical methods to create something that is both scalable and interactive.

“Gaining big insight from big data requires big analytics, which poses big usability problems,” said Chris North, a professor of computer science and associate director of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science’s Discovery Analytics Center.

With a $1 million from the National Science Foundation, North and his team are working to make vast amounts of data usable by changing the way people see it.

Yong Cao, an assistant professor with the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering, along with Leanna House, an assistant professor, and Scotland Leman, an associate professor, both with the Department of Statistics of the College of Science, are working with North to bring large data clouds down to manageable working sets. Read more.


Devi Parikh’s Project Covered by AAAS

Devi ParikhAn enormous gap exists between human abilities and machine performance when it comes to understanding the visual world from images and videos. Humans are still way out in front.

“People are the best vision systems we have,” said Devi Parikh assistant professor in the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Virginia Tech. “If we can figure out a way for people to effectively teach machines, machines will be much more intelligent than they are today.”

In her research, Parikh is proposing to use visual abstractions or cartoons to teach machines. She works from the idea that concepts that are difficult to describe textually may be easier to illustrate. By having thousands of online crowd workers manipulate clipart images to mimic photographs, she seeks to teach a computer to understand the visual world like humans do. Read more. 


EMBERS featured in the Wall Street Journal

EMBERS Logo

Analysts for the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and more than a dozen other government organizations depend on their ability to forecast national and global events to help ward off various threats to the country, but old-style approaches can produce flawed results. Read more


Dhruv Batra’s Project Featured in VT News

dhruv_batra_200When Dhruv Batra of the Virginia Tech College of Engineering travels in September to Zurich for the 2014 European Conference on Computer Vision, he will be a rising star in the growing field of vision and pattern recognition in computers.

The assistant professor with Virginia Tech’s Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering previously co-led a tutorial in the research field at another industry conference in Ohio this past June. On his way to Zurich, Batra will give talks on the same subject — creating software programs that help computers “see” and understand photographs just as humans can – at software giant Microsoft’s research lab at Cambridge University and then a separate event at Oxford University, both in the United Kingdom.

The travel comes on the heels of Batra’s spring acceptance of three major federal research grants worth than more a combined $1 million: A National Science Foundation CAREER Award, a U.S. Army Research Office Young Investigators Award, and an U.S. Office of Naval Research grant.

The awards — valued at $500,000 for five years for the CAREER Award, $150,000 for three years from the Army, and $360,000 for three years from the Navy, all focus on machine learning and computer vision — creating algorithms and techniques that will teach computers to better understand photographic images, and quickly so. Read more.


Lenwood Heath Oversees Implementation of Revolutionary Naming System for Organisms

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Lenwood Heath, DAC faculty member, is working with Boris Vinatzer, associate professor in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences who has developed a new way to classify and name organisms based on their genome sequence and in doing so created a universal language that scientists can use to communicate with unprecedented specificity about all life on Earth.  Heath oversaw the development of the bioinformatic pipeline to implement the system. He was interested in collaborating with Vinatzer because of the potential to empower scientists to communicate accurately with one another about biological systems. To read more about their collaboration click here.


CloudCV continues to make a splash!

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Congrats to Dhruv Batra for his Windows Azure for Research Award! Microsoft will provide one year of computing and storage support to CloudCV on their Azure cloud platform.

Microsoft Research’s Windows Azure for Research program, which features a continuing series of Windows Azure cloud training events and a program of Windows Azure research grants, has been going strong since its launch in September 2013. As the December 15, 2013, deadline for the second round of grant proposals approached, we braced ourselves for a barrage of creative ideas. We weren’t disappointed, receiving proposals from every continent (well, except Antarctica). The response was particularly strong from such countries as Brazil and China, where our recent training events gave researchers an excellent, hands-on view of the capabilities of Windows Azure.

For more visit here


Samah Gad’s Research Covered by the American Historical Association

IMG_ewing-figure1(635x400)The new methods of “big data” analysis can inform and expand historical analysis in ways that allow historians to redefine expectations regarding the nature of evidence, the stages of analysis, and the claims of interpretation.1 For historians accustomed to interpreting the multiple causes of events within a narrative context, exploring the complicated meaning of polyvalent texts, and assessing the extent to which selected evidence is representative of broader trends, the shift toward data mining (specifically text mining) requires a willingness to think in terms of correlations between actions, accept the “messiness” of large amounts of data, and recognize the value of identifying broad patterns in the flow of information.2

Our project, An Epidemiology of Information, examines the transmission of disease-­related information about the “Spanish flu,” using digitized newspaper collections available to the public from the Chronicling America collection hosted by the Library of Congress. We rely primarily on two text mining methods: (1) segmentation via topic modeling and (2) tone classification. Although most historical accounts of the Spanish flu make extensive use of newspapers, our project is the first to ask how looking at these texts as a large data source can contribute to historical understanding of this event while also providing humanities scholars, information scientists, and epidemiologists with new tools and insights. Our findings indicate that topic modeling is most useful for identifying broad patterns in the reporting on disease, while tone classification can identify the meanings available from these reports. Read more.


Congrats to C.T-Lu and his students

embers copyCongrats to C.T-Lu and his students whose paper on finding the breadcrumbs of civil unrest on Twitter has been picked as a Jan 2014 highlight by the IEEE Special Technical Community (STC) on Social Networking! For more details visit here


Congratulations to DAC PhD (CS) graduate Feng Chen

22eb386Congratulations to DAC PhD (CS) graduate Feng Chen (advisor: CT Lu) who has accepted a faculty position at SUNY, Albany! Feng joins in Jan 2014.


Congrats to Dhruv Batra on Amazon Web Services in Education Grant

dhruv_batra_200Congrats to Dhruv Batra who has received an Amazon Web Services in Education grant for developing CloudCV, a cloud-based computer vision platform for processing big visual data. CloudCV provides APIs for MATLAB and Python as well as a web front-end, and will benefit both experts and non-experts who desire to analyze image data. For more go to CloudCv


Congratulations to Aditya Prakash on NSF Grant

badityap-portraitCongratulations to DAC faculty member Aditya Prakash for his new NSF award entitled: “Immunization in Influence and Virus Propagation on Large Networks”! Aditya is exploring the question: given a graph, like a social network or the blogosphere, in which an virus (or meme or rumor) has been spreading for some time, how to select the k best nodes for immunization/quarantining immediately? The work has several applications in public health and epidemiology, viral marketing and social media like Twitter.


Congratulations to DAC PhD alumnus Alex Endert

COC Faculty/Staff portraits at Klaus.

COC Faculty/Staff portraits at Klaus.

Close on the heels of DAC PhD alumnus Alex Endert winning the outstanding dissertation award in the CS department, he is designated the recipient of the first ever annual IEEE VGTC Best Doctoral Dissertation Award! Congrats Alex and advisor Chris! The award was presented at the IEEE VIS Conference in October 2013.


DAC PhD student Ji Wang and DAC alumnus Sheng Guo are Round One Winners of the Yelp Dataset Challenge

Yelp_Logo_No_Outline_ColorCongratulations to DAC PhD student Ji Wang (advisor: Chris North), and DAC alumnus Sheng Guo who, along with U. Toronto grad student Jian Zhao, Round One Winners of the Yelp Dataset Challenge! They are in good company: other winners are from CMU, Stanford, and Berkeley.


DAC student Huijuan Shao wins Best Student Paper Award in the Computational Sustainability Track at AAAI’13

huijuan-updatedCongratulations to DAC PhD student Huijuan Shao for her Best Student Paper Award in the Computational Sustainability Track at AAAI’13! She receives $750 from CRA/CCC.


Dhruv Batra received a Google Research Award for his work in natural language processing

dhruv_batra_200Dhruv Batra’s research, with Chris Dyer, Kevin Gimpel and Greg Shakhnarovich, won a Google Research Award. Congratulations Dhruv!