Carnegie Mellon University

Winter 2011


CMU Explores Potential in NYC

Carnegie Mellon, in partnership with NYU, the University of Toronto, City University of New York and IBM, has taken a very preliminary step to explore the potential for establishing research and education programs in New York City.  New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is interested in building stronger ties with leading research universities around the nation and the world. 

Carnegie Mellon's interests focus on two areas — a digital media program that builds upon its work in entertainment related technologies, and a "Smart City" program being led by NYU to which Carnegie Mellon brings strength in Intelligent Transportation Systems and Smart Infrastructure research.
Carnegie Mellon expects that if a decision to proceed is ultimately made, the activity in NYC might lead to enhanced research funding for its faculty and increase the opportunities for attracting talent and companies to Pittsburgh. The "Smart City" program is predominantly a research collaboration and will provide a test bed for CMU faculty to develop research and for deployment of smart cities technology. 

The digital media project will be valuable for Carnegie Mellon faculty, students and to Pittsburgh's and Pennsylvania's efforts to build their film and digital media industries by deepening connections to the New York entertainment cluster.
Carnegie Mellon officials said that the steps the university is taking now are very preliminary and any decision to proceed is months away.

Teresa Thomas


Students Present Plaque to Rep. Doyle For Supporting Open Access to Research

Mike DoyleThree students from Carnegie Mellon University presented U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania with a plaque to thank him for supporting legislation that would guarantee open access to publicly funded research.

CMU students Omar De Leon, Timothy Seidel and Jon Kowalski met with Doyle on Feb. 28 to present the plaque to him in Washington, D.C. The students were there as members of the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students (NAGPS). In all, 25 members of NAGPS from 10 different schools met with a number of congressmen and senators in Washington during the Spring 2011 Legislative Action Days from Feb. 27 to March 1.

While in Washington, the students lobbied in support of legislation to allow the results of publicly funded research to become publicly available. They also voiced support for legislation that would extend the current National Institute of Health policy regarding access to federally funded research results to all government agencies with significant extramural research spending, saying that such an extension would be a low-cost, high-impact means to improve American competitiveness.

Doyle introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act in April 2010. De Leon noted that Congressman Doyle's legislation is very important, as it will help improve U.S. competitiveness and innovation.

"Our stance is that it makes sense for something paid for with taxpayer's money to be available to the public," De Leon said. "Currently, for small business and people trying to innovate with new technology, it costs thousands of dollars per year to have access to this kind of information. There is a strong correlation with competitiveness and entrepreneurship."

All three Carnegie Mellon students are pursuing master's degrees: De Leon in Civil and Environmental Engineering; Seidel in Public Policy and Management; and Kowalski in Engineering and Public Policy.

Ken Walters


Four on Top 10 Watch List

Andre PlatzerFour of the 10 most promising young scientists working today in the field of artificial intelligence are either Carnegie Mellon University faculty members or have recently earned their Ph.D.s in computer science at CMU, according to the editors of IEEE Intelligent Systems magazine.
The magazine compiles a list of these outstanding researchers, called “AI’s 10 to Watch,” every two years. The latest list, published in the magazine’s January-February issue, features two faculty members: André Platzer, assistant professor of computer science in the School of Computer Science, and Daniel B. Neill, assistant professor of information systems in the H. John Heinz III College. Neill, who earned his master's degree and Ph.D. in computer science at CMU, also has courtesy appointments in the Machine Learning Department and the Robotics Institute.
Platzer was cited for his pioneering work in developing methods for verifying the performance of cyberphysical systems, such as collision avoidance systems. Neill was recognized for his use of machine learning techniques for early identification of events such as disease outbreaks, crime hot spots and network intrusion.
Daniel NeillAlso on the list are two people who began their research at Carnegie Mellon as Ph.D. students. Jure Leskovec, who earned his Ph.D. in computational and statistical learning in 2008 and is now an assistant professor of computer science at Stanford University, uses large-scale data-mining and machine learning techniques to analyze the structure and evolution of the Internet. Vincent Conitzer, who earned his master's degree (2003) and Ph.D. (2006) in computer science at CMU and is now an assistant professor of computer science and economics at Duke University, focuses on the intersection of computer science and economics, particularly the use of game theory to create new market mechanisms.
Carnegie Mellon has a long history of leadership in AI, beginning with the creation of Logic Theorist, the first working AI program, by Allen Newell, Herbert Simon and J.C. Shaw in 1956. CMU’s HiTech in 1990 became the first computer chess program to attain a grandmaster rating and, most recently, Eric Nyberg and his students in the Language Technologies Institute played key roles in helping IBM develop Watson, the computer system that defeated two all-time champions in TV’s Jeopardy! 

The university has been a pioneer in autonomous navigation, computer vision, machine translation, machine learning  and intelligent tutoring systems. Three faculty members — Newell, Raj Reddy and Tom Mitchell — have served as presidents of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and a fourth, Manuela Veloso, is the president-elect. Two years ago, Luis von Ahn, assistant professor of computer science, was included in “AI’s 10 to Watch.”

Pictured above are André Platzer (top) and Daniel Neill.

Byron Spice


"Rock Prodigy" Wins Appy

“Rock Prodigy,” an iPhone/iPad app that uses a signal processing algorithm developed by Roger Dannenberg, associate research professor of computer science and art, has won the 2011 Appy Award for Education. The Appy Awards, which honor mobile apps in a number of categories, were presented Feb. 28 at MediaPost’s annual OMMA Global Conference & Expo in San Francisco.

As Dannenberg describes it, Rock Prodigy is “basically Guitar Hero for real guitars.” The app, produced by The Way of H Inc., allows users to play along with master recordings of classic guitar songs. Unlike the popular Guitar Hero video game, Rock Prodigy enables players to use real instruments and thus learn how to play guitar and learn songs. Players can compete with other users to achieve the high score for a song, or they can use the app to practice, at various skill levels.
Dannenberg developed a real-time polyphonic pitch recognition algorithm, which enables the app to determine if the user plays the correct note or chord. The company has applied for a patent on the technology. Dannenberg serves on the company’s advisory board.

Byron Spice