News

Community Seismic Network Detected Air Pulse From Refinery Explosion

06-30-16

The Community Seismic Network’s (CSN) tight network of low-cost detectors are improving the resolution of seismic data gathering and could offer city inspectors crucial information on building damage after a quake. On February 18, 2015, an explosion rattled the ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, causing ground shaking equivalent to that of a magnitude-2.0 earthquake and blasting out an air pressure wave similar to a sonic boom. Traveling at 343 meters per second the air pressure wave reached a 52-story high-rise in downtown Los Angeles 66 seconds after the blast. The building's seismometers, which are part of the CSN, noted and recorded the motion of each individual floor. "We want first responders, structural engineers, and facilities engineers to be able to make decisions based on what the data say," explained Monica Kohler, Research Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Civil Engineering, and the lead author of a paper detailing the high-rise's response that recently appeared in the journal Earthquake Spectra. [Caltech story]

Tags: research highlights MCE Monica Kohler

Realtime Camera Planning

06-29-16

Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is working with colleagues at Disney Research to develop machine-learning algorithms to make automated cameras more human-like.  Professor Yue's research group is generally interested in building AI systems that imitate demonstrated behavior, including laboratory animals, basketball players, humans playing video games, etc.  In this recent work with Disney Research, they are developing an automated camera system that learns how best to film sports matches by watching how human camera operators behave at particular moments. Early testing shows that its shots are far smoother than other automated cameras. [Learn more about the applications] [Learn more about the theory] [techradar story] [Sports Illustrated story]

Tags: research highlights CMS Yisong Yue

Best Paper At Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence

06-28-16

Leonard J. Schulman, Professor of Computer Science, and postdoctoral scholar Piyush Srivastava have won the best paper award at the 2016 Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence for their paper, Stability of Causal Inference. [Read the paper]

Tags: research highlights CMS Leonard Schulman Piyush Srivastava

Best Student Paper at Greenmetrics

06-15-16

Graduate student Navid Azizan Ruhi, working with Professor Wierman, has won the Best Student Paper at the 2016 Greenmetrics Workshop for his paper, Opportunities for Price Manipulation by Aggregators in Electricity Markets. The objective of the workshop is to explore how improvements to or new uses of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can improve the environmental, economic and/or social sustainability of ICT systems, networks, and applications and of non-ICT processes. [Read the paper]

Tags: honors CMS Adam Wierman Navid Azizan Ruhi

Janet Campagna Named 2016 Distinguished Alumna

06-13-16

Janet C. Campagna (MS ’85, Social Science) has been named a 2016 Caltech Distinguished Alumna for her contributions to quantitative investment and for her leadership in the financial industry. She is the founder of QS Investors and a member of the Caltech IST Council. The information science and technology (IST) council helps increase national and global awareness of research in information science and technology as well as garner support for it. [Alumni story]

Tags: honors CMS alumni IST Janet Campagna

Professor Yue Receives Bloomberg Data Science Grant

06-13-16

Yisong Yue, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is a recipient of the Bloomberg Data Science Research Grant Program. The program aims to support cutting-edge research in the broad field of machine learning, including specific areas such as natural language processing, information retrieval, machine-translation and deep neural networks. Professor Yue has proposed to study an alternative notion of interpretability, which he calls “dynamic interpretability”. The goal of dynamically interpretable models is to make predictions that are interpretable, rather than have the model itself be explicitly interpretable. With this alternative goal, one can circumvent much of the inherent tension between accuracy and traditional “static” interpretability, and move one step closer to interpretable production-strength models.[Bloomberg release]

Tags: honors CMS Yisong Yue

122nd Commencement Ceremony

06-10-16

Caltech’s 122nd commencement ceremony was held on Friday June 10, 2016. The commencement speaker was surgeon, writer, and public health researcher Atul Gawande, MD, MPH. He reminded the graduates that, “today, you become part of the scientific community, arguably the most powerful collective enterprise in human history. In doing so, you also inherit a role in explaining it and helping it reclaim territory of trust at a time when that territory has been shrinking.” He also cautioned them and explained, “the mistake … is to believe that the educational credentials you get today give you any special authority on truth. What you have gained is far more important: an understanding of what real truth-seeking looks like. It is the effort not of a single person but of a group of people—the bigger the better—pursuing ideas with curiosity, inquisitiveness, openness, and discipline.” [The Mistrust of Science]

Tags: Commencement Atul Gawande

Winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes Announced

06-09-16

The student winners of the 2016 Demetriades - Tsafka - Kokkalis Prizes were announced at a special dinner with the Demetriades - Tsafka – Kokkalis family. Rachel P. Galimidi received the prize in Biotechnology for her work with Professor Pamela Bjorkman aimed to further understand the mechanism of HIV evasion of the humoral immune response. Junle Jiang was the recipient of the prize in Seismo-Engineering, Prediction, and Protection for his work with Nadia Lapusta which used probabilistic inversion tools to understand the deep-ocean trench generated tsunamis that occurred during the subduction-zone earthquakes in Japan and Chile. Yinglu Tang working with Dr. Jeff Snyder received the prize in Environmentally Benign Renewable Energy Sources for her work on thermoelectric skutterudites for mid-temperature applications such as automotive waste heat recovery. The second winner in this category was Changhong Zhao who worked with Professor Steven Low to study the control and optimization of modern electric power systems. The winner of the prize in Nanotechnology was Gustavo Rios whose research involves development of a modular, scalable, nanofabricated neural probe system for dense 3-D electrophysiology to study animal brains. Rio’s graduate advisor was Professor Thanos Siapas. The prize in Entrepreneurship was given to Anton A. Toutov who was advised by Professor Robert Grubbs. His research interests lie in using fundamental chemistry to development radically new, sustainable ways to make everyday chemical products and generate clean energy.

Tags: APhMS EE honors MedE MCE CMS Jeff Snyder Nadia Lapusta Steven Low Robert Grubbs CNS Junle Jiang Rachel P. Galimidi Pamela Bjorkman Yinglu Tang Changhong Zhao Gustavo Rios Thanos Siapas Anton Toutov

Smaller Chips May Depend on Vacuum Tube Technology

06-05-16

A recent New York Times article featured Caltech alumnus, Gordon Moore (PhD ’54), and the research of Professor Axel Scherer on ultrasmall vacuum tube as a candidate to replace the transistor. [Read the article]

Tags: APhMS EE research highlights CMS Gordon Moore Axel Scherer

Xiaoqi Ren Receives Resnick Institute Research Fellowship

06-03-16

Graduate student Xiaoqi Ren, advised by Professor Adam Wierman, has won a Resnick Institute Research Fellowship. At Caltech, her research focuses on optimization of today's large scale data centers, including scheduling, energy usage and sustainability, and market design. A major focus of her work is developing algorithms and markets to encourage participation of data centers in demand response programs, allowing large scale data centers to serve as virtual energy storage for the grid.

Tags: honors CMS Adam Wierman Xiaoqi Ren