COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
UMBC campuses are closed, but courses are now online and employees are working remotely.

UMBC Google CS4HS Teacher Development Workshop

UMBC will host a three-day in-service training workshop for 35 Maryland high school computer science teachers sponsored by Google. The UMBC CS4HS Workshop will be held 17-20 July 2011 at UMBC's campus in suburban Baltimore.

Workshop attendees will have the opportunity to share ideas for energizing the teaching of computer science in Maryland high schools and to forge new relationships among each other and with university faculty members. A few key high school and state administrators will also be invited to participate. The workshop is being organized by CSEE Professor Marie desJardins.

A $50 registration fee will cover all meals and on-campus housing during the event. A reduced-rate block of hotel rooms will be reserved for participants who would prefer to stay off campus (off-campus housing is not reimbursable). Online registration will be available on 1 May 2011 and close on 1 July 2011. Send inquiries to

Symposium on Open Government Knowledge

This image depicts linked data resources circa 2010 that are published using the W3C standards for the Semantic Web.  Linked data enable the exposing, sharing, and connecting pieces of data, information, and knowledge by using a common syntactic format and explicitly representing the semantics of data.  On the order of 10 billion facts are currently available as linked data.

CSEE Professors Tim Finin and Anupam Joshi are helping to organize a symposium this fall on Open Government Knowledge: AI Opportunities and Challenges that will be held in Arlington Virginia sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. The symposium will address the technical and social challenges involved in publishing public government data in ways that make the meaning more explicit and enable reuse.

Websites like, and aim to improve government transparency, increase accountability, and encourage public participation by publishing public government data online. Although this data has been used for some intriguing applications, it is difficult for citizens to understand and use. The symposium will explore how AI technologies such as the Semantic Web, linked data, information extraction, statistical analysis and machine learning can be used to make the knowledge embedded in the data more explicit, accessible and reusable. The symposium’s location of Washington, DC will facilitate the participation of U.S. federal government agency members and enable interchange between researchers and practitioners.

Dissertation Defense: Towards Relational Theory Formation from Undifferentiated Sensor Data

Dissertation Defense

Towards Relational Theory Formation
from Undifferentiated Sensor Data

Marc Pickett

10:00am Monday, 18 April 2011
ITE 325b, UMBC

Human adults have rich theories in their heads of how the world works. These theories include objects and relations for both concrete and abstract concepts. Everything we know either must be innate or learned through experience. Yet it's unclear how much of this model needs to be innate for a computer. The core question this dissertation addresses is how a computer can develop rich relational theories using only its raw sensor data. We address this by outlining a "bridge" between raw sensors and a rich relational theory. We have implemented parts of this bridge, with other parts as feasibility studies, while others remain conceptual.

At the core of this bridge is Ontol, a system that constructs a conceptual structure or "ontology" from feature-set data. Ontol is inspired by cortical models that have been shown to be able to express invariant concepts, such as images independent of any translation or rotation. As a demonstration of the utility of the ontologies created by Ontol, we present a novel semi-supervised learning algorithm that learns from only a handful of positive examples. Like humans, this algorithm doesn't require negative examples. Instead, this algorithm uses the ontologies created by Ontol from unlabeled data, and searches for a Bayes-optimal theory given this "background knowledge".

The rest of the dissertation shows in principle how Ontol can be used as the "workhorse" for a system that finds analogies, discovers useful mappings, and might ultimately create theories, such as a "gisty" theory of "number".


  • Tim Oates, Associate Professor, UMBC
  • Tim Finin, Professor, UMBC
  • Rob Goldstone, Professor, Indiana University
  • Sergei Nirenburg, Professor, UMBC
  • Matt Schmill, Research Faculty, UMBC

Linux is twenty years old this year

Click to see and download full infographic


Linux will be twenty years old this summer. On August 26, 1991 Linus Torvalds posted a message to the comp.os.minix newsgroup that started like this.

"Hello everybody out there using minix. I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I'd like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

What resulted has been truly astounding.  We congratulate Linus Torvald, the Linux Foundation and the entire Linux community for their contributions to computer science and the world.

I am not sure when we began to use Linux here at UMBC.  Most of the machines running Unix in our labs in the 1990s were from Sun or SGI, so we used Solaris and Irix.  Sometime in the early 2000s we started replacing the SGIs with Intel boxes and switched to Linux.

The Linux Foundation is celebrating the 20th anniversary and commissioned this nicely done video that tells the story of Linux in under four minutes.

Visit our Web site if the video is not visible above.

Check out their Linux 20th Celebration page for more information about Linux, its history and how pervasive it has become.

UMBC Digital Entertainment Conference schedule, Sat 4/30

The UMBC's Fifth Digital Entertainment Conference will be held on Saturday, April 30th. Every year, the UMBC Game Developer's Club invites speakers from area game companies to share their knowledge and experience. One of the strenghts of the UMBC program in Graphics, Animation and Interactive Media (GAIM) is its strong ties to game development studios in the Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia area.

This year's event is sponsored by Zynga, the studio that developed Farmville and many other Facebook games. It will feature speakers from Zynga, Firaxis, Pure Bang, and Dream Rock Studios. Here is the schedule.

  • 10:00am Greg Foertsch, Project Art Director at Firaxis
  • 11:00am Ed Zavada, Programmer at Dream Rock Studios
  • 12:00pm Lunch
  • 01:00pm Eric Jordan (UMBC 2007), Programmer at Firaxis
  • 02:00pm Ben Walsh, CEO of Pure Bang Games
  • 03:00pm Barry Caudill, Executive Producer at Firaxis
  • 04:00pm Michelle Menard, Designer at Zynga

The DEC will be held in Lecture Hall 5 in the Engineering and Computer Science building. Admission is free and the conference is open to everyone.

CSEE undergraduates present work at URCAD

Congratulations to the CSEE undergraduate students and groups who will be presenting posters on their research as part of the Fifteenth Annual UMBC Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day. UCRAD features research, scholarship, and creative work carried out by UMBC undergraduates.

  • Natée Johnson, X-Ray Study of Nano-Scale Superlattice Materials, 3:15pm-3:30pm, UC 310, Mentor: Dr. Fow-Sen Choa
  • Sheriff Jolaoso, Spectrogram Analysis and Evaluation and Brainwave Appreciation of Music, 10:00am-12:30pm UC Ballrooom, Mentor: Dr. Fow-Sen Choa
  • Morgan Madeira and Rachel Sweeton, Finding Communities through Social Media, 10:00am-12:30pm, Mentor: Dr. Anupam Joshi
  • Ross Pokorny, 12:30pm-3:00pm, UC Ballroom, TweetCollector: A Framework for Retrieving, Processing, and Storing Live Data from Twitter, Mentors: Dr. Timothy Finin and Dr. Anupam Joshi
  • David Shyu, Patient Identification and Diagnosis Using Fourier Analysis and Beam Forming of Multi-electrode Brain Wave Signals, 12:30pm-3:00pm, Mentors: Dr. Fow-Sen Choa and Dr. Elliott Hong
  • UMBC Game Developers Club, Innovations in Computer Game Development, 12:30pm-3:00pm, Mentor: Mr. Neal McDonald

Serial entrepreneur David Turock to talk at Baltimore Emerging Technology Center

The Baltimore ACM Chapter, the Greater Baltimore Technology Council, and the Emerging Technology Center are hosting a free, public lecture on entrepreneurship by David Turock at 7:00pm, Wednesday 27 April in the ETC Canton facility (2400 Boston St., Baltimore).

David Turock will present a side-by-side comparison of two telecommunications start-ups that he launched: one successful, and one not. He compares and contrasts their funding sources, agility and scalability of their business models, hiring practices, and more. His experience and lessons learned will be valuable for aspiring tech entrepreneurs. He finishes with how his interests have shifted to using technology to promote social and environmental causes.

David Turock is a veteran entrepreneur and currently a Director of Counsel RB Capital. He holds a patent on VoIP, and is an expert on telecommunications technologies and their applications. Mr. Turock began his career working with AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1982 and Bell Communications Research in 1988, and subsequently founded enhanced telephone service provider, Call Sciences. He later formed Interexchange, which designed and operated one of the world's largest debit card systems. Most recently, from 2001 to 2007, Mr. Turock was Chief Technology Officer of Therap Services, a provider of informatics services to disabled patients. Mr. Turock received his B.S. in Experimental Psychology from Syracuse University, his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Cognitive Psychology from Rutgers University, and his M.S.E. in Computer Science from the Moore School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Baltimore ACM chapter invites attendees for pizza starting at 6:30pm. There is no charge, but please RSVP to Emil Volcheck at

The ETC Canton facility is located at the American Can Company complex, 2400 Boston Street in Baltimore. ETC is on the 3rd floor of the building that houses the Austin Grille restaurant and the entrance is next to the Lenscrafters store. There is a 3 hour visitor parking in front of the building on the Boston Street side.

Computing enrollments up 10% nationwide

The CRA reports that total enrollments among U.S. computer science undergraduates increased 10% in 2010 based on data from its most recent annual Taulbee Survey. This is the third straight year of increases in total enrollment and indicates that the post “dot-com crash” decline in undergraduate computing program enrollments is over. The Taulbee Survey is conducted annually to document trends in student enrollment, degree production, employment of graduates, and faculty salaries in Ph.D-granting departments of computer science, computer engineering and information systems in the United States and Canada. You can find the data in a CRA report on Computing Degree and Enrollement Trends.  The full data from the Taulbee report will be available later in May from the CRA Web site.

The data for UMBC computing majors shows similar increases in the past three years.

Subjects sought for Python programming study

Participate in a Python programming study and win a iPod

Last chance to participate & enter drawing for a free iPod Nano!

We are a group of students who are performing a research study to investigate how students learn and improve their performance at different aspects of Python programming. For the study, we are looking for students who are currently enrolled in CMSC 201 or who took CMSC 201 in the last semester or two and have not yet completed CMSC 202.

In exchange for your participation in the study, we will provide pizza for the participants, and each student will also be entered into a drawing for an 8G iPod Nano, in the color of your choice. One participant, of the 24 to 32 students that we recruit, will win the Nano.  We are currently signing students up for the following three time slots:

  • Wed 4/6, 7pm-10pm: free pizza will be available for registered participants at 6:45
  • Fri 4/8, 10am-2pm: Show up *any time* between 10am and 2pm — whatever works for you! Pizza will be ordered around noon.
  • Mon 4/11, 10:30am-8pm: Show up any time between 10:30am and 8pm! Pizza will be provided around noon and again around 6:30 if there are participants there to eat it!

The study will take place in ITE 240. Please sign up in advance if at all possible, and let us know what time you expect to arrive during the open sessions, so that we know how many students to expect and how much pizza to order!

The study involves four stages: first, you will be given a brief tutorial in the Python-based RUR-PLE visual programming environment and be asked to answer some warm-up questions to help familiarize you with the RUR-PLE environment. You will then be given a pretest that asks you to answer some basic multiple-choice programming questions. Next, you will be given a series of problems to solve within RUR-PLE, either by writing Python programs to perform a specified task, or by predicting the output and behavior of a given program. Finally, you will take a posttest that is similar to the pretest. We will record your answers to help us understand how to predict student programming performance and learning, based on their starting knowledge. The length of time to complete these tasks will vary, depending on the student, from one to two hours. Your data will be completely anonymized, and no information about you personally will be stored with the results of the study.

If you have any questions or wish to volunteer for the study, please contact Amy Ciavolino at Prof. Marie desJardins () is the faculty advisor for this project, and you may also contact her with any questions or concerns.

Amy Ciavolino (), Robert Deloatch (), Eliana Feasley () and David Walser ()

Talk: Diversity, Identity and Inclusion, 11am Fri 4/15 ITE229

Evening falls on the UMBC campus with downtown Baltimore in the background.

Diversity, Identity, and Inclusion

Dr. Manuel A. Perez-Quinones

Associate Professor of Computer Science
Virginia Tech

11:00am – 12:00pm Friday 15 April 2011, ITE 229

In this talk, Dr. Pérez-Quiñones presents basic definitions of these terms and briefly discusses some of the research literature on them.  He presents evidence that supports diversity and inclusion beyond the typical social justice argument. With this as a framing context, Dr.  Pérez-Quiñones describes his experiences over the last few years working in this domain in the context of university administration, professional service activities, and researcher. Anecdotally, the stories show incidents of biases, misconceptions, misunderstandings, and resistance to change.  Based on these experiences, Dr.  Pérez-Quiñones draws conclusions and provides advice for working in diverse groups, recruiting a diverse graduate student population, and fostering an inclusive work environment.

Dr. Manuel A. Pérez-Quiñones is Associate Professor of Computer Science, and a member of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at Virginia Tech. Pérez-Quiñones holds a DSc in CS from The George Washington University, Washington, DC. His research interests include human-computer interaction, personal information management, user interface software, digital government, and educational/cultural issues in computing. He is the author of over 80 peer-reviewed journal and conference proceeding publications, as well as co-author of 10 book chapters. He is Chair of the Coalition to Diversify Computing (2010-2011), a committee of the CRA, ACM, and IEEE-CS. Dr. Pérez-Quiñones is Director of the Personal Information Management Research lab. The PIM lab studies how individuals use technology to organize and use their information to satisfy their day to day needs. Lately the group has been studying how we make sense of the multiple devices used to manage our personal information. Outside of HCI, he has collaborated with researchers in the areas of Digital Government, Software Engineering, Computing Education, Digital Libraries, and Data Mining. Dr. Pérez-Quiñones was born and raised in Puerto Rico.

Host: Dr. Marie desJardins,

Sponsors: Dr. Pérez-Quiñones's visit to UMBC is sponsored by Women in Science and Engineering, the PROMISE program, the Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering, and the Department of Information Systems.

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