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SISTA News Archives

Archived News Stories

Nov 14 2010:Carole Beal and SISTA: Pythons help 6th-graders learn math Arizona Daily Star College of Science special publication: Science: Exploring our World and Ourselves Learn more
Aug 26 2010:The School of Information: Science, Technology, and Arts was introduced last year with an academic and research focus intended to train students in a broad range of disciplines in the art of computational thinking. Learn more
Aug 13 2010:In studying language acquisition and math performance, UA researcher Mary Alt is collaborating with Carole Beal, SISTA to investigate differences among students who are English language learners proficient in English and those who have specific language impairments. Learn more
Jul 29 2010:The department is pleased to announce that Paul Cohen, Ian Fasel, Kobus Barnard and Deva Ramanan (UC Irvine) have received a $5M, five year award from DARPA's Mind's Eye program. Clay Morrison assisted with preparing the proposal. Please join us in congratulating them!
The goal of Mind's Eye is to build a camera that can tell us what it sees. DARPA is interested in this problem because the cost of surveillance teams is very high, as is the cost of monitoring "dumb" remote cameras. A "smart" camera ought to be able to report suspicious activity. Mind's Eye is a particularly interesting problem because it merges computer vision with machine learning and models of human activities. The approach of the UA-UCI team involves three levels of inference: At the highest level, there are models of activity and at the lowest, there are vision algorithms optimized for pose recognition and tracking. The innovation is at the middle level, where simulation will generate possible futures a brief instant before they happen in the physical world. Said differently, the approach is to imagine, via simulation, what might be happening in the scene. Imagination can constrain conventional vision processing and should make it more accurate and efficient.
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Jul 12 2010:Paul Cohen and his team have been awarded $1.4 million for their project, which will teach students and engage them in problem-solving activities via established social networking sites. Learn more
Jun 14 2010:Diana Archangeli, a UA linguistics professor, is heading up a team using ultrasound and a range of other devices to create a technology that would enable the detection of words without auditory queues.

The team recently earned a $30,000 Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Grants for Faculty grant, a UA funding program established to aid University researchers in transitioning promising projects from conception to application. Other members include Ian Fasel, an assistant research professor of computer science, and Jeff Berry and Jae Hyun Sung, both graduate students in the linguistics department.

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Jun 07 2010:Check out two stories in UA News today about some of our students and a faculty member.

Students Tom Smallwood, Cody Jorgensen, Charles Magahern, and James Magahern developed an iPhone app Twitscape:

Travel to the WWDC is partially supported by the Department of computer Science.

Professor Ian Fasel and his research on building intelligent robots:

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May 06 2010:The integration of computer science into the K-12 curriculum in the U.S. has not kept pace with other countries, and a serious shortage of information technologists exists at all levels, according to a new study by computer science professionals including the University of Arizona's Suzanne Westbrook. The overall shortage of women and underrepresented minority students in computing and the increasing need for professionals in the field motivated Westbook and leaders from the Computer Science Teachers Association, or CSTA, the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, or ABI, to investigate barriers to the profession and make recommendations for improvement. Westbook, associate head of the UA department of computer science, studies gender issues in computing education, and she is a member of the Education, Outreach and Training team of the National Science Foundation funded iPlant Collaborative project. Learn more
Apr 21 2010:

CLIME: Concept Learning from Intrinsically Motivated sensory-motor Experience, award from DARPA

Most current robots are designed for solving one or a handful of specific, sophisticated tasks, using carefully designed sensor systems (such as computer vision systems) for localizing objects, terrain and landmarks. However these robots do not truly understand anything about these objects, such as how they can be acted upon, how they interact with each other, or any causal relationships between their visual and physical properties. Moreover, the only way for robots to learn new concepts is for a human to provide very labor-intensive hand coding, sometimes utilizing supervised machine learning. Thanks to a $250,000 award from DARPA to Asst. Research Professor Ian Fasel, CLIME (Concept Learning from Intrinsically Motivated sensory-motor Experience) is a new project which seeks to establish if it is possible for a robot to learn language-like conceptual representations through unsupervised sensory-motor experience with the world. Robots in this project will be "born" with primitive sensory motor skills, but will bootstrap to higher level concepts by "playing" with objects, driven by an internal, information-theoretic "curiosity", and using their experiences to build rich, multi-modal representations of those objects and features about them such as affordances and common causes. Ultimately, these robots may one day be able to truly understand human speech by connecting "words" to all the implications those words have about the physical world.

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Apr 21 2010:

The Arizona Articulatory, Acoustic, and Visual Speech Database, award from AHSS

The most defining characteristic of humans is our facile ability to learn and use language. Yet every domain of language is itself a complex system. Sound is the most concrete of these, with measurable acoustic and articulatory properties, yet it is only marginally understood, in part because of its inherent complexity and in part because of challenges in collecting and analyzing data, particularly articulatory data. Recently, Professors Diana Archangeli, Linguistics, and Ian Fasel, CS, received an $29,994 AHHS (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Grants for Faculty) award to develop new methods for understanding the non-acoustic aspects of speech. In this research, ultrasound, video, audio, nasal airflow, and electroglottography are simultaneously captured during speech, and then sophisticated machine learning methods are used to analyze the microstructure of vocal tract gestures, tongue positions, lip movement, audio, and their inter-relationships. One of the near-term outcomes of this project will be the creation of the public "Arizona Articulatory, Acoustic, and Visual Speech Database", which will serve as a foundation for a wide variety of research topics ranging from phonology, automatic speech recognition, speech therapy, music and language teaching, and documentation of Native American languages.

Professor Ian Fasel and his research on building intelligent robots:"

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Apr 05 2010:A long-missing part of the educational informatics focal problem has been social networking and large-scale educational gaming for students. Thanks to a $1.4M, three-year award from DARPA's CS STEM program to Paul Cohen and Carole Beal, this piece will soon be developed. The project is called "Teach Ourselves," and is based on Beal's work showing that students not only enjoy authoring math problems but learn math by doing so. Social networks such as Teach Ourselves (which will be built on top of Facebook) provide large audiences for student-authored problems. Students will get points for both authoring and solving problems, and they will be able to exchange points for real goods. A marketplace will be developed not only for math problems but for all sorts of intellectual work, including writing, translation, tutoring, and so on. Students will self-organize into guilds around these kinds of activities.
Mar 11 2010:The B2E2 group (that's Biosphere 2 Evapotranspiration Experiment Group, which consists of Carole Beal, Juan Villegas, Matt Adamson and Clay Morrison) will be running the Evapotranspiration experiment in a class at Wilson K8 the week of April 26-30, involving two classes, for 58 students.
The exciting thing about this is that it is true "citizen science": middle and high school students are actually running experiments in the classroom that contribute data for scientific papers, augmenting the data collected at Biosphere 2. They ran experiments at the Wilson elementary/middle school last May, then in early fall at Biosphere 2 with student from Cleveland, and in December by remote teleconferencing with two schools in Australia
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Mar 11 2010:First year PhD student Jinyan Guan has won a prestigious Microsoft Research Graduate Woman's Scholarship. Jinyan will be receiving one of ten such scholarships awarded across North America. In 2010 there were 109 applicants.

Jinyan is interested in computer vision, and how it related to human vision, especially with respect to representing, understanding, and recognizing 3D objects. She is part of the computer vision group, led by Kobus Barnard.

Jan 19 2010:

Cognitive Semantics for Soar Wubbles funded through the Office of Naval Research. $450,000

Proposal description:
We propose to develop a schema for verb phrases, and algorithms to learn the meanings of verbs, adverbs, and other sentential components that contribute to verb meanings. Our ultimate goal is to be able to interact with robots in natural language. Our approach is to mimic the environment in which children learn language: Usually, the child is part of a scene that includes objects, people, and activities; and usually, a competent speaker of the language engages the child in dialog about aspects of the scene. We will represent the meanings of verb phrases as models of the dynamics of observed or inferred physical and mental configurations. We will develop algorithms to learn these meanings, and to comprehend and generate verb phrases in dialog.

Jan 11 2010:Dr. Carole Beal is profiled in the most recent UA Advance newsletter (PDF) Learn more
Jan 06 2010:A team of researchers from the University of Arizona is working on a project to develop an "International Internet Classroom" as a way to centralize information and resources that could be of value to teachers. Learn more
Dec 08 2009:A team of researchers, Paul Cohen, Carole Beal, Jane Strohm, & UA student, Tasneem Kaochar say educators must upgrade the global classroom experience. The team is developing its \"International Internet Classroom\" project to promote global and shared Web-based educational resources. Learn more
Nov 06 2009:Wesley Kerr wins 1st prize in the Physical Sciences, Mathematics, Computer Engineering, & Computer Science division of the Graduate and Professional Student Council's 2009 Student Showcase held Nov. 6 and 7. Learn more
Nov 04 2009:Based on a casual conversation at the 2008 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, Computer Science Associate Department Head and Senior Lecturer Dr. Suzanne Westbrook helped bring the first K-12 Computing Teachers Workshop to Tucson last month as an extension of this year's Grace Hopper conference. Learn more
Oct 13 2009:Paul Cohen and Carole Beal won a $256,000 award from DARPA for a nine-month seedling project on robot language learning entitled, "Wubble World, Phase II"
Sep 23 2009:Suzanne Westbrook and Saumya Debray receive $800,000 CPATH-2 grant Learn more
May 20 2009:Professor Carole Beal is featured in UA News. Learn more
May 15 2009:A team of UA researchers is figuring out ways to adapt computer software to help blind students studying math while also encouraging them to pursue studies in the STEM fields. Learn more
Jan 27 2009:Math isn't simply about numbers. UA cognitive science professor Carole Beal and her colleagues have found a positive correlation between student performance in reading and their ability to comprehend math. Learn more
Jan 05 2009:A UA-led team of researchers has just earned a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to create a tutoring system that can tailor teachings based on individual progress. Learn more
Dec 05 2008:Westbrook is local chair of '09 Grace Hopper event Learn more
Nov 24 2008:Cohen, Beal, Chang win DARPA award Learn more
Oct 22 2008:Westbrook joins AP Faculty Colloquium Learn more
Jun 08 2008:Barnard granted tenure Learn more
Apr 02 2008:Kobus Barnard Receives NSF CAREER Grant Learn more
Nov 26 2007:Tasneem Kaochar Wins at Student Showcase Learn more