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Machine Vision for Detecting Water Droplets

Dr. Yan Tong has received a research grant award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) for "NSF-EPRI: Innovative and Ultra-efficient Evaporators to Realize Cost-effective Desalination”. This project aims to relieve the water-energy-food issues facing the US and the world by substantially reducing the cost of sea water desalination, making it possible to obtain massive freshwater from seawater. Yan's group will develop a fully automatic vision-based technique to detect droplets and to estimate the individual droplet departure frequency and size by non-rigid image registration and onsite-calibration. This vision-based technique is essential to reduce massive data from high-speed optical images to assure a consistent data reduction process.

Backers and Hackers Winners

The winning team for this year's Backers and Hackers is Mingxiang Zhu, Tieming Geng, and Hongrui Zhang for their app connect2icu, a secure mobile app to assist families while their child is in a neonatal or pediatric intensive care unit. Backers and Hackers is a completely student-run initiative organized by the Entrepreneurship Club and the College of Engineering and Computing at USC. The program brings together Columbia’s entrepreneurial community and USC’s mobile app development students to transform app ideas into reality. Second place went to Visha Shah, Andrew Freix, and Uday Bhat for their app RedRope, an app that gives users a convenient, affordable option to skip bar entrance lines. Third place to Rickey Ward and Adam Hogan for their app Noticed, a mobile app that unifies college event discovery and event adver­tisement

Xian Wu receives Two Thumbs Up Award

We are happy to report that Xian Wu, a PhD student in CSE working in the ART Lab, has received the Two Thumbs Up award. Two Thumbs Up awards were created to recognize faculty and staff members across campus who have made a significant difference in a student’s experience at the University of South Carolina. The recipients of these awards are nominated by students with registered with the Office of Student Disability Services.

Magellan Award Winners

We congratulate the following undergraduate students who have received a USC Magellan award in the last year, they are Emma Drobina, Judson James, Abraham Khan, Liudas Panavas, Harrison Engoren, Noemi Glaeser, Caleb Kisby, Briana Luckey, Jonathan Senn, Charles Daniels, De'Aira Bryant, Bethany Janos, Molly Carlson. Their respective research topics are shown below. You can also view the full list of winners and instructions for applying. The Summer-Fall 2017 winners are:
  • Emma Drobina, Pay attention! Re-engaging 5th grade math students using an adaptive robot tutor.
  • Judson James, Developing an App to Examine Young Children's Music Development through Serious Gaming
  • Abraham Khan, The Computational Complexity of Enumerating the Linear Extensions of a Dimension Two Poset.
  • Liudas Panavas, Part Criticality in Inventory Management
The Spring 2017 winners are:
  • Harrison Engoren, The Probability of Sudoku: The Bounds of the Cardinality of Minimal Fair Sudoku Puzzles
  • Noemi Glaeser, Generating Geographic and Temporal Heat Maps of Aflatoxin Incidence using Regularized Linear Models
  • Caleb Kisby, Exploring Non-finitely Based Finite Algebras
  • Briana Luckey, Distributed Monitoring and Control of Photovoltaic Generation
  • Jonathan Senn, Validating in vitro models for Aflatoxin production in maize using a new open database of field sample data
  • Charles Daniels, Magellan Apprentice, Generalized Hough Transform on the Tegra X1 Embedded SOC Architecture
The Summer-Fall 2016 winners are:
  • De'Aira Bryant, Engaging Minorities in Computer Science via Online Game & Robot Hip-Hop Dance
  • Bethany Janos, Monitoring Smoking Behavior through the use of Smartwatch Applications
  • Molly Carlson, Enhancing Features of the Lone Woman Archive: An Interdisciplinary Approach

It is Possible to Hack a Phone With Sound Waves

This NY Times article describes research by Dr Wenyuan Xu and colleages at the University of Michigan into how to maliciously control a phone's accelerometer using sound waves.
In their paper, the researchers describe how they added fake steps to a Fitbit fitness monitor and played a "malicious" music file from the speaker of a smartphone to control the phone’s accelerometer. That allowed them to interfere with software that relies on the smartphone, like an app used to pilot a radio-controlled toy car.
The video below explains their research.
The image is taken from their paper.

Dr. Wang Receives NSF Award for Design Reconstruction Algorithm

Dr. Song Wang has received a research grant award from the National Science Foundation for his project entitled "Algorithm Development for Reconstruction of Design Elements". This is an interdisciplinary study between archaeology and computer science to develop and disseminate a program that can identify the full artistic design from fragmented cultural heritage objects. Specifically, it will develop the algorithm to identify the designs of the carved wooden paddles of the Southeastern Woodlands from unearthed pottery sherds. Research also described in USC News: Fingerprints to the past. Image from
  • Jun Zhou, Haozhou Yu, Karen Smith, Colin Wilder, Hongkai Yu, Song Wang. Identifying designs from incomplete, fragmented cultural heritage objects by curve-pattern matching J. Electron. Imaging. 26(1), 011022 (Jan 05, 2017). doi:10.1117/1.JEI.26.1.011022.
  • Dr. Valtorta Receives Grant Award for Probabilistic Reasoning

    Dr. Marco Valtorta has received an award from the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to work on the Co-Arg: Cogent Argumentation System with Crowd Elicitation project, lead by George Mason University. This project aims to improve the quality of intelligence analysis reports. Dr. Valtorta's work will develop a probabilistic reasoning component to complement the Wigmorean argument structures used as the main representation in the Co-Arg project. Argument structures will be translated into Bayesian networks, thus uncovering subtleties and complexities, such as evidence-induced dependencies, synergistic effects, and antagonistic effects, which will be resolved by analysts or via crowdsourcing.

    Dr. Terejanu Receives Grant Award from the NIDA/USDA

    Dr. Gabriel Terejanu has received a research award from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)/USDA for his project, "TOXIMAP: Computational Framework for Prediction of Geographical and Temporal Incidence of Mycotoxins in US Crop Fields". This project will develop a general predictive modeling framework for calculating aflatoxin occurrence in US crop fields before harvest, and package this knowledge in a user-friendly predictive web/mobile interface for generating nation-wide and real-time aflatoxin hazard maps. This project has the potential to change certain behaviors in crop management to improve food safety.

    We are a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site in Computational Robotics

    Dr. Jason O’Kane and Dr. Jenay Beer have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to help create a Research Experiences for Undergraduates site for Applied Computational Robotics. This work will have significant impact by involving talented undergraduate students from around the southeast in robotics research projects here at USC. This experience will encourage these students to pursue graduate studies and research-oriented industry positions. We are proud of your efforts. Congratulations! Visit to learn more and apply to this program.

    Outstanding Senior Awards

    Each year the Faculty of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) award four Outstanding Senior Awards. This process is never easy given the many excellent and accomplished students in our program. After much deliberation, we have decided that the 2017 Computer Science and Engineering Outstanding Senior Awards go to:
    • Computer Engineering Outstanding Senior Award: Conor Campbell
    • Computer Engineering SCSPE Award: Rickey Ward
    • Computer Science Outstanding Senior Awards: Austin Pahl and Victor Reynolds
    • Computer Information Systems Outstanding Senior Award: Caitlin Brock
    All awardees will be honored at the USC Awards Day ceremony. In addition, Rickey will be honored at a special awards banquet of the South Carolina Society of Professional Engineers.

    Dr. Gregory Gay Receives NSF Grant for Software Testing

    Dr. Gregory Gay has received an NSF Research award for his project on Understanding The Role of Software Test Adequacy Criteria in Search-Based Test Generation. This work aims to help improve automated software testing in industry. Abstract Software testing ensures that software is robust and reliable. As testers cannot know what faults exist apriori, dozens of metrics---ranging from the measurement of structural coverage to the detection of synthetic faults---have been proposed to judge test case adequacy. In theory, if such metrics are fulfilled, tests should be adequate at detecting faults. To alleviate the high cost of testing, optimization algorithms can be used to automatically generate test suites. These adequacy metrics are well-suited for guiding automated test creation. However, there is no adequacy metric known to universally correspond to "effective fault detection." Testers are left with a bewildering number of testing options, and there is little guidance on when to use one criterion over another. These metrics are a solid starting point for test case generation. Many faults cannot be detected until the code has been executed. However, merely executing code does not ensure adequate testing. How code is executed is important. It is clear that testers do not yet understand which adequacy metrics actually correspond to a high probability of fault detection, or under what situations these metrics can be applied. Therefore, it is clear that improving automated test generation requires gaining a better understanding of the circumstances where particular metrics are effective, isolating the features of such metrics that correlate to fault detection in such circumstances, and establishing and evaluating guidelines for the use and combination of metrics - perhaps tied to particular system types or domains - that will result in real-world fault detection. Large-scale empirical investigations will be performed into the nature of the relationship between adequacy criteria and the probability of fault detection in order to understand the efficacy and applicability of the criteria that are used to guide test creation. This work will have broader impacts on industrial practices, software engineering education, and - through dissemination to and collaborations with industrial partners and regulatory agencies - public safety and security.

    Rukia Brooks Chosen as IGDA Scholar

    We are proud to announce that Rukia Brooks (CS major) was chosen as an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Scholar for 2017. As a Scholar she will receive an all-access pass to the Game Developers Conference, a mentor for professional development, studio tours, and other benefits. The Game Developers Conference is a professional development conference for those involved in the games industry. There are talks ranging from the academic study of games in terms of Human Computer Interaction, Sociology, and Psychology. There are talks in fields such as programming and computer science.

    Student Report from Black Women in Computing Conference

    The inaugural Black Women in Computing Conference (BWIC) was held on January 6-8, 2017 at Howard University in Washington D.C. The theme of the conference was, “Honoring our past, celebrating our present, and looking into our future.” BWIC provided a venue to discuss, advance, and celebrate the intersectionality of race and gender in computing. The conference committee had the goals of catalyzing community between black women in computing, nurturing personal and professional growth, and discussing salient themes facing the group in society. Speakers ranged from North Carolina State’s Dr. Fay Cobb Payton, to White House representative Lisa Gelobter, to image activist Michaela angela Davis. Karina Liles, a PhD candidate in computer science, and De’Aira Bryant, an undergraduate senior in computer science, attended the conference on behalf of the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing. Liles is a graduate student advisor for the Minorities in Computing at USC student group and Bryant is the current president of the group.
    "We discussed pivotal issues such as intersectionality, tokenism, and imposter syndrome—many of which I didn’t realize were issues facing the community, but rather just the way life worked for black women in computing. The open and enlightening conversations are ones that I still reflect upon today. For example, I learned that self-care and wellness are just as important as work deadlines. It’s not always worth, “getting degreed to get diabetes and die.

    The community of women were extremely honest and inspiring in their experiences. I marveled at the presence of women who looked like me that had taken similar life paths—and had been successful. I am extremely grateful to the department for allowing me to experience this historical conference and gain so much from it. As I look to complete my final semester of undergrad at USC, I could not have asked for a better way to start it."

    –De’Aira Bryant