A Birder in the Hand: Mobile Phone App Can Recognize Birds From Photos


Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering, and colleagues have developed the Merlin Bird Photo ID mobile app which uses machine-learning technology to identify hundreds of North American bird species it "sees" in photos. "This app is the culmination of seven years of our students' hard work and is propelled by the tremendous progress that computer-vision and machine-learning scientists are making around the world," says Professor Perona. "A machine that recognizes objects in images, like humans do, was a distant dream when I was a graduate student and now it's finally happening." [Caltech story]

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Bill Gates Visits Caltech


Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates visited Caltech on October 20, 2017 to learn about research being conducted in several labs on campus, to catch up with former Harvard classmate Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum, and to participate in a question-and-answer session with Caltech students moderated by Professor of English and Dean of Undergraduate Students Kevin Gilmartin.

"We all want to be young again, but I've rarely been as envious of young people as I was during my recent visit to Caltech," Gates wrote in his blog, GatesNotes. "Touring the campus, I was struck by what an amazing time it is to be a student at an institution like Caltech. In every field—from engineering and biology to chemistry and computer science—I learned about phenomenal research underway to improve our health, find new energy sources, and make the world a better place." [Bill Gates Blog]

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GPS Innovator Charles Trimble Receives von Kármán Wings Award


Caltech senior trustee Charles Trimble (BS '63, MS '64), founder and former chief executive officer of Trimble Navigation, Ltd., is the 2016 recipient of the International von Kármán Wings Award. He was recognized for his visionary leadership contributions to the aerospace industry, and distinguished service to the nation's defense and aerospace programs. "In addition to his pioneering contributions to GPS commercialization, Charlie has had a big impact on Caltech and JPL," Professor Gharib stated. "As an alumnus and trustee, he deeply understands the needs of Caltech and serves the community with dedication and insight." [Caltech story]

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Visualization Brings Data to Life


Students participating in Caltech's Data Visualization program aim to tackle cumbersome data-manipulation problem such as how to drive a rover on Mars from a command room on Earth. One of the goals of the program is to develop innovative software to streamline the ways in which scientists and engineers visually manipulate their data. "We use a human-centered design methodology," Professor Mushkin says. "Design students create sketches and ask the researchers to 'interact' with them by pointing, talking, shuffling, and annotating the paper, while computer science students create rough drafts of a variety of possible approaches to coding the visualization." [Caltech story]

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Practical Mathematics: An Interview with Andrew Stuart


Professor Andrew Stuart is interested in how the current era of data acquisition interacts with centuries of human intellectual development of mathematical models that describe the world around us. His research is informed by—and has applications for—diverse arenas such as weather prediction, carbon sequestration, personalized medicine, and crowd forecasting. [Interview with Prof. Stuart]

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Professor Chandrasekaran Wins INFORMS Optimization Society Prize


Venkat Chandrasekaran, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, is a winner of the 2016 INFORMS Optimization Society Prize for Young Researchers for his paper Relative Entropy Relaxations for Signomial Optimization. The prize is awarded for an outstanding paper in optimization and serves as a recognition of promising colleagues who are at the beginning of their academic or industrial career. [List of winners]

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TechFest 2016


Computing and Mathematical Sciences (CMS) students and faculty celebrated TechFest last Friday. This CMS Partners Program event brought representatives from startups and companies to campus to demonstrate their latest technologies and provide one-on-one career advice to CMS students. Some of the highlights from the day were the Tech Vignettes, outdoor drone demo, and the Young Alum Founders Panel.

Open Online Course on Quantum Cryptography


Thomas Vidick, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is co-teaching a massive open online course (MOOC)—CS/Ph 120, Quantum Cryptography—focused on the ways in which quantum mechanics can be used to create secure lines of communication. "It's a hot topic, but there are very few resources for people wanting to go beyond just the basics. Very few schools will even have a quantum cryptography course," Vidick says. [Caltech story] [Vidick blog]

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Professor Pierce Elected Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford


Niles A. Pierce, Professor of Applied & Computational Mathematics and Bioengineering, has been elected to the 74th Eastman Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford. Professor Pierce is working to engineer molecular instruments capable of reading out and regulating the state of endogenous biological circuitry from within intact organisms. The Eastman Professorship is one of the world's most respected visiting professorships, bringing a distinguished American scholar to Oxford each year. It was established in 1929 from an endowment established by George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Eastman Professorship has previously been held by four Caltech professors: Linus Pauling (1948), George Beadle (1958-59), J.F. Bonner (1963-64), and Harry Gray (1997-98).

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CMS Welcomes Middle and High School Students for iDtech


As part of their commitment to diversifying the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce, the CMS department and the Center for Teaching, Learning & Outreach have partnered with iD Tech Camps to provide 10-17 year old students the opportunity to gain a competitive edge for school, college, and a future career in STEM. This year’s eight Caltech summer sessions hosted 576 students who participated in project based courses in a variety of topics including: programming in Java, C++, C#, Python, Scratch, and Tynker as well as app development, electrical engineering, robotics, game design, 3D modeling and filmmaking. Fifteen year old Ravi Buentiempo described, “I enjoyed attending iD Tech because I got the type of help I could not get from youtube videos or programming forums.” Saya Desai, who is fourteen, explained, “I had to be responsible for all my problems and by making mistakes I learned a lot.” Finally eleven year old Maya Horii remarked, “I could bring ideas to life, whether creating a game or 3D printing figments of my imagination.” [CMS Local Outreach]

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