The Quanta Magazine has featured Thomas Y. Hou, Charles Lee Powell Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics, for his work in Euler singularity. Mathematicians and physicists have used Euler equations to model how fluids evolve over time. If you toss a rock into a still pond, how will the water be moving five seconds later? The Euler equations can tell you. Hou provided a numerical description of the initial state of a fluid and used a computer to apply the Euler equations to determine the fluid’s motion in the future. “From the top the fluid is spiraling down, and from the bottom it is swirling up in the opposite direction,” said Professor Hou. [Quanta article]
Professor Adam Wierman worked with a cross-disciplinary team to improve the Pasadena Unified School District's open-enrollment algorithm. Wierman knew from experience that the district's open-enrollment process was not optimal. "I couldn't help but notice that it wasn't particularly well designed," says Wierman. "There was a huge opportunity, I thought, to improve." With the team's new and improved algorithm, families are more likely to get their top match and are also more likely to keep their children in the school district rather than enrolling them in private or charter schools. [Caltech story]
Professor Anima Anandkumar, and research team have demonstrated that machine-learning algorithms can monitor online social media conversations as they evolve, which could one day lead to an effective and automated way to spot online trolling. "It was an eye-opening experience about just how ugly trolling can get. Hopefully, the tools we're developing now will help fight all kinds of harassment in the future," says Anandkumar. The research team includes Professor Michael Alvarez; Anqi Liu, postdoctoral scholar; Maya Srikanth, student; and Nicholas Adams-Cohen, Stanford University. [Caltech story]
Austin Minnich, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Physics, Fernando Brandão, Bren Professor of Theoretical Physics, and Garnet Chan, Bren Professor of Chemistry, have developed an algorithm for quantum computers that will help them find use in simulations in the physical sciences. The new algorithm allows a user to find the lowest energy of a given molecule or material. Many people are interested in how to simulate the ground states of molecules and materials. "If we want to do a simulation of water, we could look at how water behaves after it has been blasted into a plasma—an electrically charged gas—but that's not the state water is usually found in; it is not the ground state of water. Ground states are of special interest in understanding the world under ordinary conditions," says Chan. [Caltech story]
Caltech has launched the Schmidt Academy for Software Engineering to train the next generation of science-savvy software engineers and set new standards in scientific software. "This is a recognition that computing, software, and machine learning are going to play a very big role in science. Because Caltech is small and collaborative, we have the opportunity to really make a push in that direction," says Kaushik Bhattacharya, the Howell N. Tyson, Sr., Professor of Mechanics and Materials Science and vice provost. [Caltech release]
Professors Aaron Ames and Joel Burdick have launched a new research initiative, RoAMS (Robotic Assisted Mobility Science), aimed at restoring natural and stable locomotion to individuals with walking deficiencies that result from spinal cord injuries and strokes. RoAMS unites robotic assistive devices—including exoskeletons and prostheses—with artificial intelligence (AI)-infused neurocontrol. "Bipedal walking is difficult to achieve in a stable fashion," says Professor Ames. "While crutches help users of the exoskeletons to stay upright, they undercut many of the health benefits that upright locomotion might otherwise provide. In addition, they do not allow users to do anything else with their hands while walking." [Caltech story]
Peter Schroeder, Shaler Arthur Hanisch Professor of Computer Science and Applied and Computational Mathematics, and colleagues have generated a computer simulation of underwater bubble rings that is so realistic it is virtually indistinguishable from a video of the real thing. "What drives me is finding these beautiful descriptions of something that looks terribly complicated but can be reduced to a few mathematical key concepts. Then the rest just follows from there. There's beauty in seeing that a very simple principle all of a sudden gives rise to the complex appearance we perceive," Professor Schröder says. [Caltech story]
A team of researchers including Noah Olsman (PhD ’19), John Doyle, Jean-Lou Chameau Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems, Electrical Engineering, and Bioengineering, and Richard Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, has developed a set of guidelines for designing biological circuits using tools from mechanical and electrical engineering. Like electric circuits—but made out of cells and living matter—biological circuits show promise in producing pharmaceuticals and biofuels. [Caltech story]
Katie Bouman, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, creates images from nonideal sensor data and mines for information from images using techniques that can be applied to everything from medical imaging to studying the universe. She likes to search for information hidden in images, imperceptible to humans, that she can use to learn about the environment around us. [Profile of new EAS faculty member Professor Bouman]
Professors Chung, Anandkumar, and Yue have teamed up to develop a system that uses a deep neural network to help autonomous drones "learn" how to land more safely and quickly, while gobbling up less power. The system they have created, dubbed the "Neural Lander," is a learning-based controller that tracks the position and speed of the drone, and modifies its landing trajectory and rotor speed accordingly to achieve the smoothest possible landing. The new system could prove crucial to projects currently under development at CAST, including an autonomous medical transport that could land in difficult-to-reach locations (such as a gridlocked traffic). "The importance of being able to land swiftly and smoothly when transporting an injured individual cannot be overstated," says Professor Gharib who is the director of CAST; and one of the lead researchers of the air ambulance project. [Caltech story]
A day-long event focused on providing startups and companies with a chance for meaningful interactions with undergraduate and graduate students, providing students with an opportunity to find out more about the breadth of applications for computing and mathematical sciences across industries.
Carver Mead New Adventures Fund
The afternoon featured technical talks from Carver Mead New Adventures Fund recipients, alumni, and Carver Mead himself! Since 2014, this Fund has championed exceptional projects in their earliest stage of development – too early to attract industry or government support. This characteristic embodies Carver’s approaches and practices, with a continued goal to expand Carver’s daring approach to research and innovation throughout the Caltech campus. We highlighted some of the adventurous research that has been explored by grants made possible by this initiative with you.
IST Meeting of the Minds
A day-long research conference featuring talks, laboratory open houses, and poster presentations by distinguished faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and researchers from JPL showcasing the latest and most exciting work that is underway in CMS.