Take the NSA Cryptochallenge, 11-5 Friday 9/30, The Commons

NSA will be at the Commons for this year's CryptoChallenge competition. Stop by and test your skills against their cryptographic brain teasers and maybe score some great giveaways. Join them for some friendly competition from 11:00am to 5:00pm on Friday 30 September at the Commons Outside Terrace or Main Street if it rains.

Bring your resume — NSA recruiters will be on hand to discuss career opportunities for the best codemakers and codebreakers in the business. You can hone your cryptographic skills before the event by downloading the free NSA CryptoChallenge from the Apple App Store for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.

NSA CryptoChallenge is a game that tests your pattern recognition skills through a series of cryptographs. Your mission is to decipher encrypted quotes, factoids, historical events and more. It’s you against the clock to see how fast you can crack the code. Or, you can challenge a friend with the multiplayer interface. In that instance, it's a one-on-one race to see who can correctly solve the puzzle first.

NSA executes some of the nation’s most important and sensitive intelligence operations. To help us accomplish our mission, we’re looking for the best and the brightest problem solvers to join our team. If you can solve these puzzles, you just might have what it takes to help NSA keep America safe.

Considering graduate school in a computing field?

UMBC Ph.D. student Robert Holder presents his dissertation research.

The Computing Community Consortium has a new web site for undergraduates in computing fields hoping to learn more about doing research, summer research opportunities, and the process for applying to graduate school. The website contains:

  • A section on what graduate school in computer science is all about, including frequently asked questions with answers by current graduate students and faculty
  • Information, advice, and insights on how to apply to graduate school in computer science including a FAQ by students who have just been through the process as well as faculty
  • A set of pages with information on undergraduate research and summer research positions nationwide.

It's a good resource if you want to get involved in research and/or considering going on to graduate school. If you are interested in grad school and graduating this Spring, now is the time to start thinking about it. A way to start is by talking with your adviser.

Undergraduate Researcher Profile: Patrick Macatangga

Patrick Macatangga is a Senior majoring in Computer Engineering. Currently, he is working on an interdisciplinary research project that combines the areas of chemistry, biology, and electrical engineering. To learn more about Patrick's research pursuits, read his research profile.

Talk: Genetic information for chronic disease prediction

Genetic information for chronic disease prediction

Michael A. Grasso, MD, PhD
University of Maryland School of Medicine

1:00pm Friday 23 September 2011, 227 ITE

Type 2 diabetes and coronary artery disease are commonly occurring polygenic-multifactorial diseases, which are responsible for significant morbidity and mortality. The identification of people at risk for these conditions has historically been based on clinical factors alone. However, this resulted in prediction algorithms that are linked to symptomatic states, which have limited accuracy in asymptomatic individuals. Advances in genetics have raised the hope that genetic testing may aid in disease prediction, treatment, and prevention. Although intuitive, the addition of genetic information to increase the accuracy of disease prediction remains an unproven hypothesis. We present an overview of genetic issues involved in polygenic-multifactorial diseases, and summarize ongoing efforts use this information for disease prediction.

Michael Grasso is an Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and an Assistant Research Professor of Computer Science at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. He earned a medical degree from the George Washington University and a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland. He is a member of the Upsilon Pi Epsilon Honor Society in the Computing Sciences, the Kane-King-Dodec Medical Honor Society, and the William Beaumont Medical Research Honor Society. He completed a residency at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and currently works in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center. He has been awarded more than $1,200,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Bureau of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Defense, and has authored more than 35 scholarly papers and abstracts. His research interests include clinical decision support systems, clinical data mining, clinical image processing, personalized medicine, software engineering, database engineering, and human factors. He is also a semi-professional trumpet player and is interested in the specific medical needs of performing artists, especially instrumental musicians.

Host: Yelena Yesha


talk: Analysis of Brain Network Connectivity in fMRI Data using Spatial Dependence

EE Graduate Seminar

Analysis of Brain Network Connectivity
in fMRI Data using Spatial Dependence

Sai Ma
EE PhD Candidate, CSEE Dept, UMBC

11:30-12:45 Friday 9 September 2011, ITE 231

Due to low invasiveness and high spatial resolution, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has become popular in neuroimaging field to determine where activity occurs in brain as a result of performing cognitive tasks or merely being at rest.  One of the most active areas in current fMRI research involves exploring functional connectivity, i.e., statistical interactions, among distributed neural units. Understanding connectivity elucidates how functional systems process information in brain. More interestingly, disorganized connectivity has shown to be related to various kinds of mental disorder.

Data-driven methods, especially independent component analysis (ICA), have been successfully applied to fMRI data analysis and provided an opportunity to study brain functional connectivity on a network, hence multivariate scale. However, independence is a strong assumption which is not necessarily nor typically satisfied in real applications. For this reason, dependent component analysis (DCA) has emerged to generalize ICA by grouping components into independent subsets while within subset dependence is allowed.

Based on ICA and motivated by DCA, we aim to develop effective and efficient analysis schemes to extract, characterize, and quantify network connectivity pattern in fMRI data. We define functional network connectivity as spatial dependence among ICA-derived components, instead of second-order temporal correlation between time courses, to capture high-order statistics. According to this definition, we present our work on the study of network connectivity by several data-driven methods, including ICA, DCA, hierarchical clustering, hypothesis testing, and graph theoretical analysis.

seminar Host: Prof. Joel M. Morris

Microsoft at UMBC Tue 9/6 to discuss internship and full-time positions

Microsoft will be on campus to meet with undergraduate and graduate students interested in internship and full-time positions in the Seattle area. Interested students should come to the the Skylight Room in the Commons between 6:30 and 7:30pm on Tuesday September 6.

There are opportunities for Computer Science, Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Information Systems majors and more. Food will be available and also chances to win cool prizes.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP via the Events tab in your UMBCworks account (access myUMBC under the Jobs and Internships topic in myUMBC).

President Freeman Hrabowski on UMBC's Cybersecurity Strategy

UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski was recently interviewed by The Daily Record on UMBC's educational and research programs in cybersecurity and their importance to the region and nation.

"We anticipate significant growth in this area over the next five years as the nation continues to stand up our cybersecurity resources. In addition, cybersecurity has implications for a broad range of sectors, including healthcare, energy and financial services. These industries have a strong footing in the Maryland economy, so the job outlook is strong, as is the need for innovative technologies to address new and emerging problems. Our ability to prepare a workforce to address cybersecurity challenges makes Maryland a real leader in this area."

The interview is part of a special supplement on cybersecurity and higher education published in August.

Google describes challenges in detecting Web-based malware

A new Google technical report, Trends in Circumventing Web-Malware Detection documents that it has become difficult to identify malicious Web sites as antivirus software is becoming less effective against them. The researchers analyzed four years' worth of data from 160 million Web pages using its Safe Browsing service, which warns users when they attempt to visit a site thought to have malware. Attackers have developed evasion techniques to avoid having their sites flagged as malicious. ACM TechNews notes that

"One of the ways hackers get around virtual machine-based detection is to require the victim to perform a mouse click, which triggers the site to automatically execute an attack. Browser emulators can malfunction when the malicious code is scrambled. A new, more complex JavaScript code is designed to stop emulated browsers and make manual analysis of the code more difficult, according to the Google engineers. Google also has come across IP cloaking, where a malicious Web site will refuse to serve harmful content to specific IP ranges, especially those used by security researchers. In August 2009, Google found that about 200,000 sites were using IP cloaking."

See also an article on NetworkWorld.

Final MDC3 cyber challenge team registration session 9/7

The Maryland Cyber Challenge and Conference (MDC3) will provide an opportunity for students and professionals to network in a fun environment while participating in exciting games and learning about computer safety and cybersecurity skills. MDC3 teams of up to six players will compete in one of three categories: high school, college and university, and industry professionals. High school teams will focus on cyber defense techniques whereas college, university and professional teams will compete in a capture the flag match.

Students must be enrolled at a Maryland high school, college, or university. Professionals’ employers must have an office in Maryland and must be either a company or government agency. This summer’s final free Maryland Cyber Challenge orientation session will be held Thursday, August 25th at UMBC.

  • Professional Session: 4:30 – 5:30pm
  • High School & College Session: 6 – 7pm

Who should attend an orientation session?
Students, parents, teachers, administrators, cybersecurity professionals or anyone who wants to learn more about MDC3.

Why should I attend an orientation session?
To learn more about MDC3, including rules, format, scoring and CyberNEXSâ„¢, the system used during the competition.

Where are the orientation sessions?
The UMBC Technology Center, Main Seminar Room 1450 South Rolling Road Halethorpe, MD 21224

George Dyson on the birth of the computer

In his 2003 TED talk, George Dyson tells stories from the birth of the modern computer — from its 17th-century origins to the hilarious notebooks of some early computer engineers.

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