Baltimore Code Craftmanship MeetUp, 6:30pm Thr 9/18, Betamore


The Baltimore Code Craftsmanship meetup group will hold its monthly meeting at 6:30pm on Thursday, September 18 at Betamore (1111 Light St.) in Baltimore (map). The meetup is for the students and software developers in the Baltimore area that care about the quality of their work and want to practice and improve their programming skills, share what they know and learn new things from others.

The meetup is a hands on coding user group with no presentations. Each meeting will be a dojo where we will go through a challenging software craftsmanship exercise that focuses on clean code, test-driven development, design patterns, and refactoring. We will pair up and practice on a kata in order to learn and apply the values, principles, and disciplines of software craftsmanship. It’s also a great way to meet others in Baltimore’s computing community to network and find out about internships and jobs.

The September meeting will go through the next Test-Driven Development (TDD) exercise focusing on solutions using pair programming, test-driven development, clean code and refactoring.

Come with your laptop equipped with your favorite programming and unit testing environment. Be prepared to pair up, code, learn, share and have fun!

Join the meetup and register to attend .

CSEE Alum Stephan Sherman unveils new multiplayer game for iPhone 6



UMBC Alumnus and Meyerhof Scholar Stephan Sherman (BS ’00, M8) spoke at Apple’s new product event ¬†on Tuesday and described his company’s VainGlory game, which will run on the new iPhones using under iOS 8, taking advantage of Metal graphics API, larger screen and faster processors on the iPhone 6.



Stephan is Co-founder and CCO (Chief Creative Officer) of Super Evil Megacorp, a game development company headquartered in San Mateo, California.

While at UMBC, Stephen put together an independent study program combining Computer Science, Computer Engineering and Digital Animation. After graduating in 2000, he went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a MS degree in computer science in 2002. He worked at a number of computer game companies as a programmer, lead programmer and senior engineer and co-founded Super Evil Megacorp in 2010.

NSA grant supports cyber-challenge prizes

CSEE’s Dr. Rick Forno, Cybersecurity GPD and Assistant Director of UMBC’s Center for Cybersecurity, has received an $84K grant from the National Security Agency (NSA) to fund the prizes for student winners at the 2014 Maryland Cyber Challenge finals that will take place at the CyberMaryland 2014 conference in Baltimore on 29 and 30 October.

The Maryland Cyber Challenge aims to build excitement around pursuing education and careers in the cybersecurity field by bringing together teams of students and cyber practitioners to compete in a series of ever-more-complex cybersecurity challenges. To date, approximately 700 competitors across 115 teams have participated in the past three annual competitions. With the generous support of NSA, UMBC has provided more than $252,000 in monetary prizes to highly skilled and talented computer science students during the competition.

First place team members each will receive $5K and runners-up receive $2K each to contribute toward their higher education and training in the cybersecurity and computer science fields. Identical prizes are awarded both in the high school and college divisions.

The 2014 Challenge begins with the first scored qualification round taking place over 13-15 September.

Dr. Forno and UMBC are co-founders of the Maryland Cyber Challenge, which is a partnership with Leidos and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED).

New Eclipse research cluster for robust, smart hardware systems

UMBC Eclipse research cluster

The new Eclipse research custer includes three collaborating labs at UMBC that focus on low-level hardware design to data analytics. Current projects include wearable computing, hardware security, and human assisted computer vision.

Professor Nilanjan Banerjee’s Mobile, Pervasive, and Sensor System Lab performs research in cyber-physical systems spanning mobile systems, renewable-energy driven systems, and low power wearable sensors. It uses cross-disciplinary techniques including hardware design, software systems design, and analytics to build more usable and robust systems.

Professor Ryan Robucci’s Covail Lab develops on cooperative technolgy that explores ultra-low-power hybrid analog-digital computational systems, sensors, and hardware security. Studies of biological systems are leveraged for inspiring signal and image processing algoritghms and sensor system design for embedded aplications including robust wearable, mobile, biomedical systems.

Professor Chintan Patel’s VLSI Lab focuses on electronic design automation (EDA) for reliable digital systems and low-power VLSI design. Research on hardware security, power supply noise analysis and estimation, delay testing enables the development of secure and robust systems.

hackUMBC ’14 Registration Opens

The second hackUMBC is coming! (And has nothing to do with security.)

hackUMBC ’14 will take place on the weekend of 27-28 September (Saturday into Sunday). The event is open to students of any skill level, from innovators and entrepreneurs to designers and hardcore coders. Its purpose is to allow students to mingle and collaborate for 24 continuous hours of community exploration to grow technology projects from scratch while expanding their connections to other students and mentors from both industry and academia. Through the generosity of various sponsors, admission is free, and includes meals, snacks, swag, prizes, and more!

Last year’s inaugural event ‘sold out’ at 100 students from across the UMBC campus community, including teams from CMSC, CMPE, EE, IS, Biology, Biotechnology, Math, Physics, and Media Studies. This year we’re expanding admission to students from both UMBC and local colleges/high schools, so register early!

More details and sign-up information is available at the event website.

Faculty, staff, and leaders from around campus and the local industry who are interested in serving as mentors or judges for hackUMBC are invited to contact Dr. Rick Forno for more information.

Photos from last year’s inaugural event held in the Skylight Room can be found here.

PhD Defense, E. Birrane on Virtual Circuit Provisioning in Challenged Sensor Internetworks: with Application to the Solar System Internet, 10am Mon 8/11

from flckr, marked for reuse

Dissertation Defense

Virtual Circuit Provisioning in Challenged Sensor Internetworks:
with Application to the Solar System Internet

Ed Birrane

10:00am-12:00pm Monday, 11 August 2014, ITE325b

In this thesis, we present a challenged sensor internetwork (CSI) networking architecture which federates heterogeneous constituent networks behind an overlay routing mechanism abstracted from individual data link layers. The CSI is unique and required to implement expanding sensor networks.

Demand for sensing networks with increasing spatial footprints is evidenced by ongoing efforts to build geo-political border monitoring networks, intelligent highway initiatives, automated undersea surveillance, and NASA effort to construct a Solar System Internet. Existing network technologies fail to address multiple physical links, frequent disruptions, and significant signal propagation delays. The construction and maintenance of virtual circuits in an internetwork abstracted from differences in the physical, data-link, and transport layers of an internetwork represents a unique research contribution with immediate utility for a wide variety of sensing network concepts.

We describe the CSI architecture as the intersection of wireless, delay-tolerant, and heterogeneous networks and describe special characteristics of this architecture than enable useful assumptions to optimize messaging. We define an internetwork routing (INR) framework that decomposes the routing function into discrete logical steps and we provide algorithms for each of these steps. An inferred Contact Graph Routing (iCGR) algorithm populates logical graphs from local nodes. A Contact Graph Routing with Extension Blocks (CGR-EB) algorithm provides a hybrid source-path algorithm for synchronizing link state along network paths. A Predictive Capacity Consumption (PCC) algorithm exploits CGR-EB data to build a congestion model. Payload Aggregation and Fragmentation (PAF) and Traffic-Shaping Contacts (TSC) algorithms condition data and place limits on the amount of internetwork traffic carried over local networks.

From simulation, iCGR performs within ~15% of a perfect-knowledge system. CGR-EB has a speedup over standard approaches by 300% in stable topologies, by 3000% in unstable topologies, and by 11000% in unstable topologies with non-monotonic cost functions. PCC delivers 97% more data in congested networks over table-based approaches and 37% more data than the INR framework without the congestion model. PAF/TSC reduces message count by 43% while increasing goodput by 63%.

Together, these algorithms build and monitor virtual circuits in the CSI architecture. Portions of this work are in consideration for deployment in NASA networks.

Committee: Drs. Alan Sherman (Co-Chair, UMBC), Mohammed Younis (Co-Chair, UMBC), Dhananjay Phatak (UMBC), Vinton Cerf (Google), Keith Scott (MITRE), Hans Kruse (OU)

MS defense: S. Viseh, Low Power On-board Processor for A Tongue Assistive Device, 12pm Tue 8/5

MS Thesis Defense

A Low Power On-board Processor
for A Tongue Assistive Device

Sina Viseh

12:00 pm Tuesday, 5 August 2014, ITE 325B

In biomedical wearable devices, patient’s convenience and accuracy are the main priorities. To fulfill the patient’s convenience requirement, the power consumption, which directly translates to the battery lifetime and size, must be kept as low as possible. Meanwhile, adopted improvements should not impact the accuracy. Therefore, focus on reducing the energy consumption within these devices has already been the subject of a significant amount of research in the past few years. In most wearable devices, all raw data is transmitted to a computer to carry out the required processing. This vast amount of communication leads to a considerable amount of power consumption and the need for a bulky battery, which hinders the device’s practicality and patient’s convenience. Tongue Drive System (TDS) is a new unobtrusive, wireless, and wearable assistive device that allows for real time tracking of the voluntary tongue motion in the oral space for communication, control, and navigation applications. The intraoral TDS clasps to the upper teeth and resists sensor misplacement. However, the iTDS has more restrictions on its dimensions, limiting the battery size and consequently requiring a considerable reduction in its power consumption to operate over an extended period of two days on a single charge. In this thesis, we propose an ultra low power local processor for the TDS that performs all signals processing on the transmitter side, following the sensors. Implementing the computational engine reduces the data volume that needs to be wirelessly transmitted to a PC or smartphone by a factor of 30x, from 12 kbps to ~400 bps. The proposed design is implemented on an ultra low power IGLOO nano FPGA and is tested on AGLN250 prototype board. According to our post place and route results, implementing the engine on the FPGA significantly drops the required data transmission, while an ASIC implementation in 65 nm CMOS results in 0.128 mW power consumption and occupies a 0.02 footprint. To explore a different architecture, we mapped our proposed TDS processor on the EEHPC many-core. The many-core has a flexible and time saving design procedure. As a result of having a local processor, the power consumption and size of the iTDS will be significantly reduced through the use of a much smaller rechargeable battery. Moreover, the system can operate longer following every recharge, improving the iTDS usability.

Committee: Dr. Tinoosh Mohsenin (chair), Tim Oates and Mohamed Younis

MS defense: C. Shah, Usability Study of the Pico Authentication Device, 2pm Mon 8/4

pico-happy 700

MS Thesis Defense

A Usability Study of the Pico Authentication Device:
User Reactions to Pico Emulated on an Android Phone

Chirag Shah

2:00pm Monday, 4 August 2014, ITE 346

We emulate the Pico authentication token on the Android Smartphone and evaluate its usability through a casual survey of users. In 2011, Stajano proposed Pico as a physical token-based authentication system to replace traditional passwords. As far as we know, Pico has never been implemented nor tested by users. We evaluate the usability of our emulation of Pico by a comparative study in which each user creates and authenticates herself to three online accounts twice: once using Pico, and once using passwords. The study measures the accuracy, efficiency, and satisfaction of users in these tasks. Pico offers many advantages over passwords, including human-memory- and physically-effortless tasks, no typing, and high security. Based on public-key cryptography, Pico’s security design ensures that no credential ever leaves the Pico token unencrypted.

In summer 2014 we conducted a survey with 23 subjects from the UMBC community. Each subject carried out scripted tasks involving authentication, separately using our Pico emulator and a traditional password system. We measured the time and accuracy with which subjects carry out these tasks, and asked each subject to complete a survey. The survey instrument included ten Likert-scale questions and free responses and a demographics questionnaire. We then analyzed these data to find that subjects reacted positively to the Pico emulator in their responses to the Likert questions. By statistical analysis of the reactions and measurements gathered in this study we observed that subjects found the system accurate, efficient and were satisfactory.

Committee: Dr. Alan Sherman (chair), Kostas Kalpakis, Charles Nicholas and Dhananjay Phatak

PhD proposal: C. Grasso, Information Extraction from Clinical Notes, 11am Mon 8/4


PhD Dissertation Proposal

Information Extraction from Clinical Notes

Clare Grasso

11:00am Monday, 4 August 2014, ITE 325b

Clinical decision support (CDS) systems aid clinical decision making by matching an individual patient’s data to a computerized knowledge base in order to present clinicians with patient-specific recommendations. The need for methods to extract the clinical information in the free-text portions of the clinical record into a form that clinical decision support systems could access and utilize has been identified as one of the top five grand challenges in clinical decision support. This research focuses on investigating scalable machine learning and semantic techniques that do not rely on an underlying grammar to extract medical concepts in the text in order to apply them in CDS on commodity hardware and software systems. Additionally, by packaging the extracted data within a semantic representation, the facts can be combined with other semantically encoded facts and reasoned over. This allows other clinically relevant facts to be inferred which are not directly mentioned in the text and presented to the clinician for decision making.

Committee: Drs. Anupam Joshi (chair), Tim Finin, Aryya Gangopadhyay, Charles Nicholas, Claudia Pearce and Eliot Siegel

CyberNEXS comes to UMBC

The UMBC Graduate Cybersecurity Program is pleased to announce that it will incorporate the CyberNEXS virtual training environment within its courses and activities during AY14-15. Assistant CYBR GPD Ben Shariati was instrumental in bringing this technical capability to the CYBR program, beginning with CYBER 620 at Shady Grove this fall.

Through CyberNEXS, students are able to connect into its cloud-based “cyber range” to conduct hands-on system administration, security, research, and systems analysis activities in a sandboxed private environment capable of presenting multiple server, desktop, and other devices in a variety of networked configurations. Student activities can be scored and/or monitored for overall success and effectiveness over time.

Since 2011, CyberNEXS has served as the competitive environment for the Maryland Cyber Challenge.

CyberNEXS is provided to UMBC by Leidos, a leading cybersecurity firm supporting US government activities.