Washington Post covers work by Kleinberg, Mullainathan, and Raghavan on algorithmic fairness

A recent paper on fairness and bias in algorithmic predictions by first-year CS PhD student Manish Raghavan, CIS faculty member Jon Kleinberg, and Harvard economist (and Cornell alum) Sendhil Mullainathan, was discussed by the Washington Post.

Their work sheds light on recent controversies about the potential for bias in algorithmic risk tools used in the criminal justice system. The paper establishes inherent trade-offs between competing definitions of algorithmic fairness: except in highly constrained cases, these definitions cannot all be simultaneously satisfied. 

Date Posted: 10/21/2016

Knepper receives grant from Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program (YIP)

Congratulations to Computer Science Professor Ross Knepper, who has received a grant from the Air Force’s Young Investigator Research Program (YIP). The program fosters creative research in science and engineering to early career researchers. Knepper’s grant will focus on “Enabling Robust Persistent Autonomy in Robots.” YIP will award $20.8 million in grants to 58 scientists and engineers over the next three years.

Date Posted: 10/18/2016

Carla Gomes's work in optimization programming and sustainability mentioned in ScienceDaily article

A new optimization technique could help conservation biologists choose the most cost-effective ways of connecting isolated populations of rare, threatened and endangered species living in protected areas. The work demonstrates how computer science and optimization programming can have applications to new areas such as sustainability, noted Carla Gomes, Professor of Computing and Information Science at Cornell University and former PhD student co-author Bistra Dilkina. Cornell's Institute for Computational Sustainability received a $10 million NSF Expeditions in Computing Award that helped support the optimization research.

"This work opens up new directions in terms of understanding tradeoffs for different species," Gomes said. "If we can get synthesis rather than just optimize for one, it's more efficient."


Date Posted: 10/12/2016

Carla Gomes mentioned in Cornell Engineering Online Magazine for work in materials sciences

"Hundreds of citizen scientists without any formal materials engineering background are advancing the field through Materials Discovery—an initiative led by Carla Gomes, Professor of Computer and Information Science, and Bruce van Dover, Chair of Materials Science and Engineering.

Searching through a seemingly infinite amount of x-ray diffraction data from the synchrotron and other sources involves tremendous amounts of computational power and human insight. But by combining computational techniques with a citizen science community that can identify simple patterns within images, Gomes’ lab can analyze over one-million different combinations of materials in a single day. Using the UDiscoverIt platform on their home computers, citizen scientists can volunteer—and sometimes earn cash—by combing through images, searching for patterns representing crystal structures that are optimized for sustainable technologies like hydrogen fuel cells and solar cells."

For more information:  http://www.engineering.cornell.edu/magazine/features/materials-to-do-anything-under-the-sun.cfm.

Date Posted: 10/12/2016

Cornell / Cornell Tech-led proposal receives $1M grant from NSF's CICI program

Deborah Estrin (CS), Nate Foster (CS), Arnaud Sahuguet (Director of the Foundry, Cornell Tech), Fred Schneider (CS), and David Shmoys (ORIE) received a $1M grant from the National Science Foundation's Cybersecurity Innovation for Cyberinfrastructure (CICI) program.

The objective of the CICI program is to “develop and deploy security solutions that benefit the scientific community by ensuring the integrity and reliable of the end-to-end scientific workflow… Therefore, an increasing area of focus for the NSF is the development and deployment of hardware and software technologies and techniques to protect research cyberinfrastructure across every stage of the scientific workflow.” More information on the grant can be found here.

The winning proposal’s abstract is as follows:

Individuals today generate microscale data as a byproduct of their daily activities through use of mobile phones, wearable devices, and online services. The availability of microscale data creates new opportunities for solving a variety of complex planning problems at the institutional level, but it also raises concerns about security and privacy for the individual. Our ability to realize the opportunities is threatened by these concerns. We propose to develop and evaluate an architecture that allows individuals to monitor and manage sharing of their microscale data in order to maximize individual and institutional utility.

This project will develop a software framework to support the implementation of data-driven planning applications where individuals will have fine-grained control over use of their data. Work on the project will focus on: (i) creating a campus testbed capable of acquiring microscale data streams from sources such as wireless access points, card readers, room sensors, and point-of-sale systems; (ii) building a data management platform that offers flexible controls for imposing use-based restrictions on queries and transformations of microscale data; (iii) developing applications that use microscale data to solve practical planning problems related to transportation, space, and food in a campus setting. Having an open-source platform that addresses fundamental security and privacy challenges for microscale data has the potential for large impact on real applications and industry. Under the auspices of this funding, the investigators will also develop masters-level projects on microscale data-driven planning, providing the next generation of engineers with training in an emerging interdisciplinary area.

Date Posted: 10/04/2016

Shi named 2016 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator

Elaine Shi has been named the 2016 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator for her proposal, entitled “ShinE: Secure Hardware in Effect.” The award seeks to support academic scientists who show exceptional promise for doing creating research. “This is an honor and a testament to Elaine’s research accomplishments and promising ideas,” said Interim Cornell President Hunter Rawlings.

More information about the award can be found here.

Date Posted: 10/04/2016

BigRed//Hacks brings in hundreds of students from across the country

BigRed Hacks (BRH) drew over 400 students from across the country to its annual 36-hour student-run hackathon. For three days, teams of up to 4 students worked tirelessly to create computer applications for a variety of uses with a special emphasis on this year's theme of sustainability. BRH was created three years ago by two CS undergraduates, Junia George and Leon Zaruvinsky, in an effort to bring the hackathon culture to Cornell; since then, the planning committee has grown to a team of 22 students.The event was organized as part of the student hackathon league, Major League Hacking, and was sponsored by over 20 companies including Microsoft, Dell, Bloomberg, and Oracle with special support from the Cornell Computer Science Department, including Events Coordinator Jessie White and Professor Ross Tate. To kick off the event, Professor Carla Gomes, director of the Institute of Computational Sustainability, presented at the opening ceremony with a talk entitled, "Computational Methods for Balancing Environmental, Economic, and Societal Needs." 

The hackathon itself ran for three days in the Physical Sciences Building with various networking opportunities, snacks, and of course, plenty of designing, coding, building, and iterating. After a 2-hour project expo on Sunday, the hackathon ended with a closing ceremony which presented multiple awards for the projects:

Main Prizes Winners
Best UI DesignRecycle Rampage
Best Business ProspectAdd.me
Best Technical FeatAndreessen
Best First-Time HackPuppetPlant
Best Hardware HackJankTank

Special Prize Winners
Best Use of Nessie APIGarbagemonGOCheddar
Best Use of Microsoft TechnologyBinGO
Best Cornell-Related HackCornell Course Advisor (CUCA)
Most Security Conscious AppHTTPS Security Demo
Best Data Privacy HackHTTPS Security Demo

Further coverage on the event can be found at the Cornell Daily Sun.

Date Posted: 10/04/2016


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