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Happy birthday World Wide Web

Twenty years ago today, Tim Berners-Lee posted a short summary about the new World Wide Web project on the public alt.hypertext newsgroup. A copy of the first Web page mentioned in his post is hosted by the W3C.

The Web is arguably the most significant computing technology that has been developed in the forty years, although was enabled by other key developments, including the Internet and the “personal” computer. The impact of Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s simple idea and the principles behind it continues to grow as we discover new ways to apply it.

You can read more about the history of the Web in several Wikipedia articles, on the World Wide Web Consortium Web history page, and at CERN.

Shawn Lupoli joins CSEE faculty

The Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering would like to welcome new lecturer, Shawn Lupoli, to the department. Mr. Lupoli will be teaching CMSC 201 (Introduction to Computer Science) and CMSC 104 (Problem Solving and Computer Programming) at UMBC this Fall.

Shawn Lupoli’s interest in robotics sparked when he was pursing an undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Frostburg State University. “The hands-on experience ignited my imagination,” says Mr. Lupoli of the robotics course that appealed to his inner-electrician. As a Master’s student at Towson University, Mr. Lupoli used LEGO, Vex Robotics and Fischertechnik robot kits as teaching tools in his Computer Science courses to engage his students with fun, hands-on projects.

“I’ve always wanted to teach,” says Mr. Lupoli, who was influenced by his father, who has been an Industrial Technology teacher at Perryville Middle School for thirty-four years. After receiving his Master’s in Computer Science from Towson University, Lupoli dove into teaching introductory computer science courses. He has over ten years of teaching experience, and has been a Computer Science Instructor at Mount St. Josephs High School in Baltimore, Anne Arundel Community College, Virginia Tech University, and Radford University, among other colleges. Most recently, Mr. Lupoli was an Assistant Professor at the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC).

“When I was teaching at Virginia Tech and Radford, I fell in love with the University atmosphere,” he says, which is what drew him to the lecturer position at UMBC. “For me professionally, there are more opportunities here than I would ever have at a community college,” he adds. Mr. Lupoli sees teaching at UMBC as a welcome challenge, and hopes to eventually expand his teaching to subjects such as operating systems and data structures.

This Fall, Mr. Lupoli will teach CMSC 201 (Introduction to Computer Science) and CMSC 104 (Problem Solving and Computer Programming). Eager to get the semester started, Mr. Lupoli says one of his goals for the Fall is to get settled in and get used to the nuances of UMBC. But, the success of his students is his ultimate concern, says Mr. Lupoli, who explains that one of his favorite things about teaching is seeing the "I got it" light turn on in a student's head.  “I strive to make the students understand,” says Mr. Lupoli, “I strive for student success.”

MS defense: Fast Fullchip Transient Response Estimation Technique

MS thesis defense

A Fast Fullchip Transient Response Estimation Technique

Sushmita K. Rao

11:00am Monday, 25 July 2011, ITE 346

Circuit Simulation has long been a dependable technique for design engineers for functional testing before a circuit is taken to silicon. But as we move into very deep sub-micron technologies, chips are becoming more complex and denser. The dense power grid adds to long simulation run time rendering fullchip simulations difficult and computationally expensive for larger designs. Some large designs may not be simulatable owing to system requirements. Even fast simulators like Cadence UltraSim fail to provide SPICE level accuracy. Dynamic solutions provide greater accuracy than statistical techniques but long simulation run time becomes the biggest tradeoff. Accurate measurement of dynamic currents is required for applications like power estimation, supply noise predictions and in verifying the power grid designs and testing. The research reported in this thesis is focussed on providing a current based method to estimate a fullchip's transient response without carrying out a fullchip simulation. Instead, a part of the chip is simulated and the power port currents thus measured are used to estimate the fullchip currents using the principle of superposition. This technique eliminates fullchip simulations that are complex and time consuming but the accuracy is maintained as the fullchip estimation is carried out on simulated data. A simple scaling method is also proposed to compensate for resistive variations in the test circuits. Experimental results reported demonstrate the effectiveness of the method.

Committee members:

  • Dr. Chintan Patel (Chair)
  • Dr. Ryan Robucci
  • Dr. Tinoosh Mohsenin

Faculty Research Profile: Dr. Penny Rheingans

Dr. Penny Rheingans, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, co-directs UMBC's VAnGOGH lab, where she uses her knowledge in data visualization to solve problems in a variety of application areas. “I think it’s a really cool area because it allows me to synthesize things from a number of areas,” says Rheingans of the field, which allows her to combine techniques from computer graphics, art and illustration, and knowledge of human perceptual and cognitive systems.

To read more about Dr. Rheingans' research pursuits, see her full research profile.

Faculty Research Profile: Dr. Tinoosh Mohsenin

Dr. Tinoosh Mohsenin, professor of computer science and electrical engeineering, runs UMBC's Engergy Efficient High Performance Computing Lab, where she works to develop highly accurate, low-power communications and healthcare devices. Currently, Dr. Mohsenin is pursuing three distinct projects in conjunction with her lab that fall within the realm of digital signal processing (DSP) and VLSI implementation: 1) many-core architectures for DSP and secured trusted platforms, 2) low-power processors for portable healthcare devices, and 3)efficient error correction techniques for communication devices.

To read more about Dr. Mohsenin's research pursuits, see her full research profile.

Faculty Research Profile: Dr. Fow-Sen Choa

Dr. Fow-Sen Choa, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, uses a Chemical Vapor Desposition System to grow semiconductors that are used for chemical detection and breath analysis using photo-acoustic (PA) effects. In addition, he has been working with undergraduate students at UMBC on projects dealing with flying robots, Fourier analysis of music instrument, x-ray scan of superlattice crystal growths, and brainwave measurement and analysis.

To read more about Dr. Choa's research pursuits, see his full research profile.

PhD defense: Temporal Frame Comparison Function for the Metacognitive Loop

Ph.D. Dissertation Defense

Finding a Temporal Frame Comparison Function
for the Metacognitive Loop

Dean Earl Wright III

9:00am Wednesday 26 July 17 August 2011, ITE325 UMBC

The field of Artificial Intelligence has seen steady advances in cognitive systems. However, many of these systems perform poorly when faced with situations outside of their training. And as the real world is dynamic, this brittleness is a major problem in the field today. Adding metacognition to such systems can improve their operation in the face of perturbations found in dynamic environments. The Metacognitive Loop (MCL) works with a host system, monitoring its sensors and expectations. When a failure is indicated, MCL advises the host system on corrective actions.

Differing amounts of metacognition can be made available to the host system. At the lowest level no assistance is given. Above that are rule-based systems with hard-coded responses to stimulations. Next are evaluative systems that weigh multiple inputs using neural network or other techniques. At each level, the metacognition system can provide useful assistance in more situations.

The next level of metacognition adds a temporal dimension. A metacognitive system that has no concept of time has to either treat each new problem as (1) a symptom of previously encountered problems or (2) a completely new problem. Both of these extremes lead to providing poor advice to the host system. Thus, the temporal level of metacognition needs a more discriminating test to compare the current situation encountered by the host system with previous problems.

Several algorithms were developed to find the one that would provide the best performance for a simulated Mars Rover that faced with a dynamic environment with multiple perturbations. Several methods were found that allow MCL to provide good advice most of the time and allow the Mars Rover to successfully complete complex tasks.


  • Dr. Tim Oates (chair)
  • Dr. Marie desJardins
  • Dr. Tim Finin
  • Dr. Anupam Joshi
  • Dr. Don Perlis (UMCP)

MS defense: Mitigating Coverage Loss in Wireless Sensor Networks

MS Thesis Defense

Distributed Approach for Mitigating Coverage Loss
in Heterogeneous Wireless Sensor networks

Kavin Rathinam Kasinathan

10:00am 15 July 2011, ITE 325b

In a heterogeneous wireless sensor network, nodes with different sensing capabilities are dispersed throughout an area of interest. Nodes with similar capabilities are not necessarily collocated. When a node fails, the area in the vicinity of such a node is left uncovered and the application may be negatively impacted. In this paper, we present a distributed algorithm for mitigating the coverage loss caused by the failure of a sensor node. The proposed algorithm looks for one or multiple nodes that can be repositioned in order to fill the coverage gap. A search is conducted within the 2-hop neighborhood to identify a node or a combination of more than one node that can collectively possess the capabilities of the failed node. In order to maximize the performance of the network, the replaceable nodes are chosen such that there is a minimum coverage and connectivity impact on the network after replacement. In the addition, the distance a node will travel to replace the failed node is also taken into consideration to limit the recovery overhead.

Committee members:

  • Dr.Mohamed Younis (Chair)
  • Dr.Charles Nicholas
  • Dr.Tinoosh Mohsenin

Is a smartphone your Internet portal?

Today’s Washington Post article, As smartphones proliferate, some users are cutting the computer cord, describes how smartphones are enabling a “always-on, Internet-on-the-go society”.

“A third of all American adults own a smartphone and for many minority and low income users, those mobile devices have replaced computers for Internet access. The findings released Monday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project highlight the breakneck speed consumers are adopting smartphones — faster than just about any high-tech product in history. … Of those who solely rely on smartphones to surf the Web, most are minorities, younger than 30 and have low incomes. They’ve found mobile devices as a suitable replacement for buying expensive computers and paying DSL or cable modem bills every month, Smith said. Cable and DSL remain faster, but that difference may not be big enough to justify their high costs for some consumers.”

How many UMBC students use a smartphone for a significant part of their access to the Internet? What are you using: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, WebOS? Please share your experience as a comment.

Faculty Research Profile: Dr. Yelena Yesha

Dr. Yelena Yesha is the Associate Director of the National Science Foundation's Center for Hybrid Multicore Productivity and Research (CHMPR) and the site director of the Multicore Computational Center (MC2), and has been doing exciting research with cloud computing through the centers.

To read more about Dr. Yesha's research pursuits, see her full research profile.

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