Making smartphones more intelligent

Mobile devices will provide better services if then can model, recognize and adapt to their users' context.

Our smartphones are quite capable, but not really very intelligent. They have more computational power than the supercomputers NASA used to reach the moon and are loaded with sensors, but lack "situational awareness" — an ability to understand their context and use that knowledge to provide better services for their users.

CSEE professor Tim Finin is one of the organizers of a workshop on Activity Context Representation: Techniques and Languages that is focused on the problems underlying making mobile devices more intelligent. The workshop will address techniques and systems to allow mobile devices model, reason about, and recognize the activities and context of their users and exploit those models to provide better services. The workshop is sponsored by the sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and will be held on August 7th and 8th in San Francisco as part of AAAI-11, the Twenty-Fifth Conference on Artificial Intelligence.

Finin is working with colleagues Anupam Joshi and Laura Zavala and students from the ebiquity lab on the NSF-sponsored Platys project that is working on this problem. The project is developing software for Android phones that uses machine learning algorithms to recognize their users' activities and their roles in them and selectively share this information with other devices based on user-defined privacy policies.

Requirements and forms for ENEE and CMPE Ph.D. Comprehensive Portfolio

The Ph.D. programs for Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering have adopted a new comprehensive portfolio process that replaces the old comprehensive examinations process. The requirements and associated forms can be found in the following document: CMPE/ENEE Ph.d. Comprehensive Portfolio Policy Implementation Guidelines.

Cybersecurity graduate program information session

UMBC Cybersecurity graduate MPS program

The UMBC cybersecurity graduate MPS program will host an informal information session from Noon to 1:00pm on Wednesday, April 6 in ITE Lecture Hall 7. Attend to hear the benefits and practical applications of the program and meet staff members who will be available to answer questions.

The program allows students to:

  • Learn from both research faculty and industry practitioners
  • Acquire the latest knowledge and skills and get the preparation you need to make meaningful contributions to the fieldDevelop a network of fellow students and faculty that will benefit you throughout your career
  • Choose either a post graduate certificate or master's degree

UMBC is designated as a Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE) as well as a Center of Academic Excellence in Research (CAE-R) by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

The program is now accepting applications for Fall 2011. See the Cybersecurity program Web site more information.

Research Faculty position in Computational Photonics


The Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) is seeking candidates for a Research Faculty position in the area of Computational Photonics. The appointment will be made at the level of an Assistant Research Scientist or Assistant Research Professor (or in exceptional cases at the Research Associate level) as commensurate with experience.

The successful candidate will develop and validate computational models of opto-electronic oscillators, short-pulse, modelocked lasers, and possibly photonics crystal fibers. The research will involve close collaboration with experimentalists. More information about research in Computational Photonics at UMBC can be found at An appointment at the level of Assistant Research Professor would require the ability to engage in instructional activity in either or both the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department and the Mathematics and Statistics Department. Such an appointment would have to be approved by the appropriate department(s).

This position is available immediately. The initial appointment is for one year, with the possibility of renewal for additional years. A Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, or Electrical Engineering is required. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in computational methods for solving partial and ordinary differential equations, a strong background in physics and mathematics, and a strong interest in mentoring PhD students. Experience in the modeling of optical systems is useful but not required.

Interested applicants should email a CV and the names and contact information of three professional references to both Curtis Menyuk (menyuk at and John Zweck (zweck at For best consideration, applications should be received by June 1st, 2011. However, applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

UMBC is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

UMBC highly ranked in production of IT degrees

2009 UMBC Commencement (photo: Jim Lord)

UMBC is highly ranked in the U.S. for its degree and certificate granting in the computing sciences. The University is fourth among U.S. research universities in the production of IT degrees and certificates, according to the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, which is available from National Science Foundation’s WebCASPAR site. The table below displays the top ten universities in terms of total production in the Carnegie classification categories RU/VH and RU/H.

Average yearly production in 2007 and 2008
Penn State
University of Southern California
Johns Hopkins University
New Jersey Institute Technology
Georgia Tech
University of California-Irvine

The most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics also shows that UMBC ranks second among U.S. research universities in undergraduate IT degrees awarded, and it is the largest producer among those universities of IT graduates in Maryland, DC and Virginia. According to the same data, UMBC is second in Maryland and 31st nationally in the number of PhDs granted in IT. The numbers are averaged from the two most recent years available — 2007 and 2008.

Yun Peng receives award from NIST for supply chain research

A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.

Professor Yun Peng received a research award of $150,000 from the National Institute of Standards and Technology support work on "Integration Testing in Supply Chain Logistics" in the coming year. The research is focused on improving the systems that companies use to exchange and process information on services, products, orders and transportation. The objective is to reduce or eliminate problems that lead to late deliveries, inaccurate tracking, insufficient visibility, poor security, unreliable planning, and unnecessary disruptions in supply chains. The funds will be used to support research by UMBC students, postdocs and faculty in collaboration with NIST technical staff.

Leslie Valiant receives ACM Turing Award

The Association for Computing Machinery named Harvard's Leslie Valiant the winner of the 2010 ACM A.M. Turing Award for "his fundamental contributions to the development of computational learning theory and to the broader theory of computer science."

"Valiant brought together machine learning and computational complexity, leading to advances in artificial intelligence as well as computing practices such as natural language processing, handwriting recognition, and computer vision. He also launched several subfields of theoretical computer science, and developed models for parallel computing."

The Turing Award is considered to be the computing's “Nobel Prize" and carries a $250,000 prize.


UMBC Digitial Entertainment Conference, 10-5 Sat. April 30

Esca la Volpe is a game develped at UMBC for the 2011 GLobal Game Jam. Using simple sweeping motions and color mechanics, you must save the last celestial fox in the world from extinction, traversing obstacles to survive!

Hold the date! The UMBC Game Developers Club will hold the fifth annual Digital Entertainment Conference from 10am to 5pm on Saturday April 30 in the Engineering and Computer Science building's lecture hall five. The free event will include speakers from from Firaxis, Pure Bang, Dream Rock Studios and other game development companies who will share their knowledge and experience and comment on new trends in the industry. Watch the UMBC GDC site for the agenda and more information.

Startup City to stimulate urban entrepreneurship in Baltimore

Baltimore's Startup City

Baltimore entrepreneur and computer programmer Mike Subelsky wants to help strengthen the IT startup community in Baltimore and has created Startup City to give it jolt. The effort will fund up to ten groups that will receive free space, seed money and mentoring to develop their ideas during the summer of 2011.

The planning document describes what the program will offer the ten groups:

  • $15,000 in seed capital
  • Weekly master classes with experienced entrepreneurs
  • Regular access to mentors
  • Introductions to potential customers and follow-on investors
  • Free, beautiful office space collocated with the other participating companies
  • Legal, accounting, marketing, and technical assistance from Baltimore’s Emerging Technology Center
  • Vigorous coverage of their stories in our blog via video and written profiles
  • Exposure to investors, journalists, and business leaders at a Demo Day occurring at the end of the 12 weeks

See recent articles in in bmore and the Baltimore Sun.

"Applicants to Startup City, who will be selected based on a YouTube video they submit to the program's website, can be from anywhere in the world — though Baltimoreans are equally encouraged to apply. The final ten, chosen by consensus of all the mentors and investors involved in the program (after Beeman and Subelsky narrow down the initial pool) can be anyone from a single person with an idea to a formed team or company. Startup City is looking mainly for those who will be able to execute a successful project in twelve short weeks."

CSEE student Karuna Joshi receives IBM Ph.D. Fellowship

Karuna P. Joshi

CSEE Ph.D. student Karuna Joshi has received a IBM Ph.D. Fellowship award for the 2011-2012 academic year. Ms. Joshi's dissertation involves developing a new framework for automating the configuration, negotiation and procurement of services in a cloud computing environment using semantic web technologies. She is working with co-advisers Professors Yelena Yesha and Tim Finin.

The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program is highly competitive and selects exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems important to IBM and their disciplines of study. The award provides a generous stipend and an education allowance covering tuition and other educational expenses and is renewable for up to three years.

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