MS Defense: Blind source separation for detection of abandoned objects

ENEE MS Thesis Defense

Blind source separation for detection of abandoned objects:
Exploiting different types of diversity

Suchita Bhinge

2:30pm Friday, 13 November 2015, ITE 325B

Due to the increase in security concerns, automated detection of abandoned objects has become an important application in video surveillance. Because of its increasing importance, a number of techniques have been proposed recently to automatically detect abandoned objects. The general procedure implemented for detection of abandoned objects includes background subtraction or foreground object extraction followed by post-processing steps in order to classify the foreground object as an abandoned or non-abandoned object. However, these techniques make use of a number of user-defined parameters such as track time, co-ordinates of the object/owner, the vicinity of the object, and properties of the object such as its shape, color, among others.

In this thesis, we present a new technique based on blind source separation (BSS) for detection of abandoned objects that does not keep track of the extracted objects or owners and does not require a dual background scheme for stationary object extraction. Order selection is an important step for our implementation of blind source separation based scheme since this step captures the signals with high energy and disregards signals that are not relevant to the detection of abandoned objects. In this thesis, we show that the performance of ICA improves when an algorithm that assumes a flexible source distribution along with multiple types of diversity, such as higher-order statistics and sample dependence is used for the estimation of the source components. ICA, however, can only model one dataset at a time, thus limiting its usage to monochrome frames. In order to address this issue, we also present another implementation of blind source separation called independent vector analysis (IVA), a recent extension of ICA to multiple data that takes the dependence across multiple datasets into account while retaining the model of independent components within each dataset. We show that the proposed blind source separation techniques performs successfully in complicated scenarios such as crowd, occlusion, and illumination changes.

Committee: Drs. Tulay Adali (chair), Joel Morris and Mohamed Younis

Free workshop on using the Arduino microcontroller, Sat. 11/14 and 11/21


The UMBC IEEE Branch will hold an Arduino workshop on Saturday November 14th and next Saturday November 21st from 2:00-6:00pm in SHER 003 (Lecture Hall 4). It’s a great opportunity for people to learn about microcontrollers and circuit basics and how to use Arduino for building cyber-physical systems for home automation, robotics, games and more.

The Arduino microcontroller is a great device for anyone who wants to learn more about technology. It is used in a variety of fields in research and academia and may even help you get an internship. Our instructors have used the Arduino for researching self-replicating robots and remote-controlled helicopters, hacking into a vehicle’s control system, and using radars to detect human activity in a room. Some of the hackathon projects by our IEEE members include developing a drink mixer that wirelessly connects with a Tesla Model S and a full-body haptic feedback suit for the Oculus Rift. The Arduino is a wonderful tool and is fairly easy to use. Everyone should learn how to use it!

UMBC’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers is hosting two Level 1 workshops this semester. They are hosted this Saturday (Nov. 14th) and next Saturday (Nov. 21st). The workshop will be SHER 003 (Lecture Hall 4) from 2pm to 6pm. Please register online to sign up for either workshop. Contact Sekar Kulandaivel () if you have any questions.

The workshop is open to all majors (minimum coding experience recommended). You only need to bring your laptop and charger and download and install the Arduino IDE. We hope to see many of you this weekend! You REALLY don’t want to miss out on this opportunity.

PhD defense: Connectivity Restoration in Damaged Wireless Sensor Networks

PhD Dissertation Defense

Distributed Protocols for Connectivity Restoration
in Damaged Wireless Sensor Networks

Yatish Joshi

9:30 Monday, 23 November 2015, ITE 325b

Decreasing costs and increasing functionality of hardware devices have made Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) attractive for applications that serve in inhospitable environments like battlefields, planetary exploration or environmental monitoring. WSNs employed in these environments are expected to work autonomously and extend network lifespan for as long as possible while carrying out their designated tasks. The harsh environment exposes individual nodes to a high risk of failure and their failure can partition the network into disjoint segments. Therefore, a network must be able to self-heal and restore lost connectivity using available resources. The ad-hoc nature of deployment, harsh operating environment means that proactive strategies based on redundancy cannot be applied as the scope of the damage could be so large that redundant nodes could be lost as well. The lack of external resources like satellite coverage preclude the application of centralized recovery approaches since they require the entire network state to be available for recovery. Hence distributed approaches that employ reactive strategies are the most viable solutions for these networks.

In this dissertation, we tackle the problem of distributed connectivity restoration in a WSN that has been partitioned into multiple disjoint segments due to multi-node failures. We consider multiple variants of the problem based on the available resources, and present a set of novel recovery schemes that suit the capabilities and requirements of the WSN being repaired. The correctness and time-complexity of all proposed approaches are analyzed and their performance is validated through extensive experiments.

Committee: Drs. Mohamed Younis (Chair), Charles Nicholas, Chintan Patel, Kemal Akkaya (FIU), Waleed Youssef (IBM)

Professor Gymama Slaughter to speak at 2016 TEDxBaltimore

CSEE Professor Gymama Slaughter will talk about her research on Human Powered Biosensors as part at the 2016 TEDxBaltimore conference in January. The one-day conference will be held at Morgan State University on January 14, 2016 with the theme OUTLIERS: ideas that challenge traditional thinking. She will join about 15 other speakers each sharing an “idea worth spreading” with the expected 1,500 attendees.

Dr. Slaughter’s research focuses on the application of sensor-processor integration, bioelectronics design and theory, optimization methods for physical circuit design, biologically inspired computing (neural networks), and sensor interfacing and wireless networking and communications. You can find out more about the work that she and her students are doing by visiting her Biolectronics Laboratory website.

talk: John Kloetzli, DirectX 11 Software Tessellation, 11/13


The UMBC CSEE Seminar Series Presents

DirectX 11 Software Tessellation

John Kloetzli, Firaxis Games

12noon-1pm, Friday, November 13, 2015 ITE 102

Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) have become increasingly important in general purpose high performance computing, both because of the enormous computing power of these highly parallel processors as well as the evolution of general purpose software APIs that provide a domain-independent software environment. Graphics applications are also being redesigned to take advantage of this general GPU access, both for design of new algorithms as well as optimization and specialization of existing ones. This talk will explore how having access to the general purpose compute API in DirectX 11 allows us to design a tessellation algorithm for a specific use case that has superior performance and quality to the fixed-function tessellation hardware.

John Kloetzli is a graphics programmer at Firaxis Games. He is an alumnus of UMBC, having received a BS in 2006 majoring in Computer Science with a minor in both Mathematics and Philosophy, and a MS in Computer Science in 2008. He has worked at Firaxis since 2006 and is part of the team that produces the popular Civilization game series.

Hosts: Professors Fow-Sen Choa () and Alan T. Sherman ()

talk: Banerjee, Wearable Sensors for Individuals with Mobility Impairments

The UMBC CSEE Seminar Series Presents

Wearable Sensors for Individuals
with Mobility Impairments

Nilanjan Banerjee
Associate Professor, CSEE Dept., UMBC

1-2pm Friday, 6 November 2015, ITE 325

More than 500,000 individuals in the US are hospitalized every year due to spinal cord injuries. The severity of the injury dictates the degree of mobility that an individual has. All mobility impaired individuals rely on assistive devices to perform their daily life activities. Present assistive devices, however, are cumbersome, expensive, and limited. To this end, in this talk I will present two minimally intrusive systems — InviZ and Tongue-n-Cheek that can be used for environmental control in individuals with limited mobility. InviZ is based on textile capacitive sensors built into clothing and is used for gesture recognition; Tongue-n-Cheek is a micro-radar based system for tongue gesture recognition. This is joint work with Ryan Robucci and Chintan Patel and students in the ECLIPSE cluster at UMBC (eclipse.umbc.edu)

Nilanjan Banerjee is an associate professor in the CSEE Dept. at UMBC. He is a 2011 NSF Career Awardee and received a Microsoft Research Software Engineering Innovations Award. His research interests are in embedded systems, mobile systems, and sensor design.

Hosts: Professors Fow-Sen Choa () and Alan T. Sherman ()

NSA Day of Cyber Experience

At CyberMaryland 2015, UMBC was recognized as one of the inaugural university partners of the new “NSA Day of Cyber” experience being released this month by local firm LifeJourney.

According to LifeJourney,

“The NSA Day of Cyber is designed to raise the “national IQ” for STEM and CyberScience education paths. NSA is sponsoring the program to introduce and inspire the more than 40 million students in schools and colleges to pursue STEM careers to build the skills that will open up their future and connect them to this in-demand digital workforce.

The NSA Day of Cyber is a web-based, self-paced, interactive experience that enables students to test drive their future in Cybersecurity by experiencing a day in the life of six NSA cybersecurity leaders. This online experience is free to students, teachers, schools and organizations in the United States.”

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski offered the morning’s keynote about Maryland’s prominent and successful role in educating the well-rounded cyber workforce. Following a brief promotional video, the official unveiling of the NSA Day of Cyber included remarks by Rob Joyce, Chief of Tailored Access Operations, NSA; Rodney Peterson, Director of NICE, NIST; Dr. Mark R. Nelson, Executive Director, Computer Science Teacher Association, and  Dr. Nicholas Eugene, Director of STEM Programs, Coppin State University.  An additional announcement event will take place on November 4 at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) conference in San Diego.

Once the site launches in November, the NSA Day of Cyber experience will be promoted to Career Services and various UMBC academic programs/student groups with an interest in cybersecurity.  A recent CSEE Ph.D. alumnus is a featured ‘mentor’ for one of the six experiences presented in the NSA Day of Cyber, too!

For more information on the NSA Day of Cyber, contact Dr. Rick Forno or register at LifeJourney’s NSA Day of Cyber site.


talk: Charles Nicholas, How colorful is your exploit kit?, 11/6

The UMBC Cyber Defense Lab presents

How colorful is your exploit kit?

Professor Charles Nicholas
Computer Science, CSEE Department, UMBC

11:15am-12:30pm Friday 6 November 2015, ITE 325b

Exploit kits have emerged as a significant form of malware in recent years. When a user visits an infected web site, code is executed that inspects the user’s computer for vulnerabilities, and then downloads malicious payloads based on that information. When a user visits an infected site, the so-called “landing page” can then begin its reconnaissance work. These landing pages, and in particular the embedded code, usually Javascript or a Java applet, can be captured and analyzed. Our hypothesis is that exploit kits can be characterized by their landing pages.

We have completed our effort to build a data set of malware domains and the landing pages they send. At this point we have almost seven gigabytes of pcap data, collected from about 4500 web sites, to analyze. The analysis began with informal inspection of pcap files. We parsed the pcap data into n-grams, and applied established numerical analysis techniques to produce some graphs. These graphs were the heart of our presentation at the July, 2014 Malware Technical Exchange Meeting.

Since then, we have succeeded in running the pcap data through the Suricata program, which separates the pcap data into individual HTML files. Some of these contain Javascript code, which we have parsed out into separate objects. These Javascript specimens were then subjected to the same visual cluster analysis that was used with the original pcap data.

Charles Nicholas is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at UMBC, where he has been on the faculty since 1988. He earned the B.S. degree from the University of Michigan – Flint in 1979, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from The Ohio State University in 1982 and 1988, respectively. He has written more than one hundred scholarly papers, and has advised seven Ph.D. students and more than eighty M.S. students. He served as Chair of the CSEE Department from 2004 to 2010. In addition to his appointment at UMBC, Dr. Nicholas has held appointments at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. He spent academic years 1996-97 and 2011-2012 on sabbatical at the National Security Agency. Dr. Nicholas’ research interests include document engineering, information retrieval, and malware analysis. His work has been funded by a number of agencies, including NASA, Maryland Industrial Partnerships, DARPA, AFOSR, and the Department of Defense. He has served five times as the General Chair of the ACM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management (CIKM), and serves on the SIGWEB Executive Committee. Dr. Nicholas is a member of the Board of Directors of UMBC Training Centers, and the Advisory Board of the UMBC Research Park.

Host: Alan T. Sherman,

NSF CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service, Nov 20 deadline

UMBC undergraduate and graduate students interested in cybersecurity can apply for an NSF CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service scholarship by 20 November 2015.

The NSF CyberCorps: Scholarship For Service program is designed to increase and strengthen the cadre of federal information assurance professionals that protect the government’s critical information infrastructure. This program provides scholarships that may fully fund the typical costs incurred by full-time students while attending a participating institution, including tuition and education and related fees. Participants also receive stipends of $22,500 for undergraduate students and $34,000 for graduate students.

Applicants must be be full-time UMBC students within two years of graduation with a BS or MS degree; a student within three years of graduation with both the BS/MS degree; a student participating in a combined BS/MS degree program; or a research-based doctoral student within three years of graduation in an academic program focused on cybersecurity or information assurance. Recipients must also be US citizens; meet criteria for Federal employment; and be able to obtain a security clearance, if required.

For more information and instructions on how to apply see the UMBC CISA site or the OPM SFS site. Contact Dr. Alan Sherman () for questions not answered on those sites.

Prof. Tinoosh Mohsenin gets NSF grant for wearable biomedical computing technology

CSEE Professor Tinoosh Mohsenin received a $212,000 grant from the National Science Foundation for a three-year project that will develop a heterogeneous ultra low-power accelerator for wearable biomedical computing. The work will be done in collaboration with researchers at George Mason University and students in the UMBC Energy Efficient High Performance Computing Lab.

With the rapid advances in small, low-cost wearable computing technologies, there is a tremendous opportunity to develop personal health monitoring devices capable of continuous vigilant monitoring of physiological signals. Wearable biomedical devices have the potential to reduce the morbidity, mortality, and economic cost associated with many chronic diseases by enabling early intervention and preventing costly hospitalizations. These low-power systems require to have the capacity to provide fast and accurate processing and interpretation of vast amounts of data and generate smart alarms only when warranted. The project will build the foundation of the next generation of heterogeneous biomedical signal processing platforms that can address the current and future generation energy-efficiency requirements and computational demands.

The interdisciplinary project is expected to inspire and enable new approaches to healthcare monitoring, and can significantly impact several fields including human-centered cyber-physical systems, cyber-security, mobile communications, bioinformatics and applications that require high performance and energy efficient embedded computing from different sensors.