CS@VT’s Wu Feng is using “the cloud that is helping to cure cancer.”

Check out the postcard on Wu Feng sent via mail to all Virginia Tech College of Engineering Alumni.

FEng - Microsoft postcard - final_Page_1wufeng_back Can’t read this? We can’t either. See text below.

Microsoft has taken particular notice of Virginia Tech computer scientist Wu Feng’s leadership in cutting-edge research that involves computing in the cloud.

The company is using the College of Engineering supercomputing expert’s collaborative ideas in one of its global advertising campaigns, describing Virginia Tech scientists and engineers as “leaders in harnessing supercomputer powers to deliver lifesaving treatments.”

Microsoft ran a full-page ad ran this past summer in the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Business Week, United Hemispheres, The Economist, Forbes, Fortune, TIME, Popular Mechanics, and Golf Digest, as well as a host of other venues in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. In the winter of 2015, it plans to run a television ad throughout the U.S. and western Europe highlighting Feng’s work on computing the cure for cancer, using the cloud. Virginia Tech researchers Wu Feng and David Mittelman won the first worldwide research award from the NVIDIA Foundation, as part of its “Compute the Cure” program. The award is enabling them to develop a faster genome analysis platform that will make it easier for genomics researchers to identify mutations that are relevant to cancer.

For information on this original grant, click here.

The cloud that is helping cure cancer. Research that once took years now happens in hours. Using Microsoft Azure and HDInsight, scientists and engineers at Virginia Tech harness supercomputing power to analyze vast amounts of DNA sequencing information and help deliver lifesaving treatments. Now the next big breakthrough might not be found in a test tube, but in big data. This cloud makes data make a difference.  This is the Microsoft Cloud.

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Dr. Wenjing Lou named an IEEE Fellow

Dr. Lou
Dr. Lou

Dr. Wenjing Lou (http://people.cs.vt.edu/wjlou), professor of computer science, has been named an IEEE Fellow for contributions to information and network security.

The IEEE Fellow grade is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.

As a co-director of the Complex Networks and Security Research (CNSR) laboratory at Virginia Tech, Lou leads research on cybersecurity and wireless networks. She has an international reputation for high-quality, innovative, and impactful research. For her elevation to IEEE Fellow, she was cited for her work on information security and privacy in cloud computing as well as on wireless and network security.

Lou’s research has been supported by research grants from federal funding agencies and industry. In addition to a 2008 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, she was PI on eight and co-PI on three NSF grants. She received four best paper awards, two of which are from ACM conferences. As of November 2014, her work has been cited more than 9,400 times per Google Scholar and her h-index is 47. Her outstanding performance in research has been recognized by multiple institutional awards, including a Virginia Tech College of Engineering Dean’s Faculty Fellow award in 2014.

Lou has held several leadership positions in the IEEE Communications Society. She was the lead founder of the IEEE Conference on Communication and Network Security, served as the conference’s technical program committee chair in 2013, and is currently the chair of the conference’s steering committee. Lou also serves on the editorial board of multiple prestigious journals, including IEEE Transactions on Mobile Computing, IEEE Transactions on Parallel and Distributed Systems, Journal of Computer Security, and IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications. She chaired technical program committees of a number of conferences, workshops, and symposia.

Lou has graduated seven Ph.D. students, four of whom are currently tenured or tenure-track professors in research universities in the US. Three of them received the prestigious NSF CAREER award.

Since August 2014, Lou has been serving as a program director at NSF under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA) assignment. At NSF, her responsibilities include the Networking Technology and Systems (NeTS) program, a core program of the Computer and Network Systems (CNS) division within the Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering (CISE), and the Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) program, a cross-cutting program led by CISE/CNS.

Lou joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 2011 as a tenured associate professor and was promoted to full professor in 2014. Prior to Virginia Tech, she was a faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts for eight years. She received a Ph.D. degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Florida in 2003.


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Programming Team advances to World Finals in Morocco

(pictured left to right, Eric Woods, IBM Representative (and VT grad); Miraziz Yusupov, Nick Sharp, Scott Pruett and Coach Dr. Godmar Back)

December 2, 2014 — The VT team has advanced to the 2015 ACM-ICPC World Finals to be held May 16 – May 21 in Marrakech, Morocco.

On Nov 1st, the Virginia Tech ACM Programming Team competed in the 2014 Regional ACM International Collegiate Programming Competition (ICPC).  Virginia Tech fielded eight teams of three students each, who competed among 188 teams from universities and colleges across the Mid-Atlantic region for a coveted spot at the ACM ICPC World Finals, which will be held in Marrakech, Morocco in May 2015.  The Mid-Atlantic region comprises universities and colleges in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, D.C., East Pennsylvania and South New Jersey.

The ACM ICPC contest fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure.  It is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world.

All participating students were CS majors, ranging from sophomores who competed for the first time to seniors who participated for the 2nd or 3rd year.  Virginia Tech's top-scoring team, which consisted of CS students Nicholas Sharp, Scott Pruett, and Miraziz Yusupov, finished first at the Radford University site, and placed overall 3rd place. With this result, it is one of only 22 teams from North America to qualify for a spot at the World Finals.

Overall, our teams placed as follows:

#3  The Traveling Salesmen:

        Scott Pruett, Nick Sharp, Miraziz Yusupov

#11 Trie Hards:

        Brendan Avent, Tucker Noia, Saurav Sharma

#15 The Canonical Backtrackers:

        Hassan Almas, Andriy Katkov, Nathaniel Lahn

#16 The Breadth-First Searchers:

        Harrison Fang, Daniel Gil, Luke Wolff

#48 Ternary Search Party:

        Nate Craun, Michael Zamani, Loran Steinberger

Honorable mention:

The Multinomials:

    Larissa Perara, Aarathi Raghuraman, Monica Wei

Recursive Descendants:

    Carlos Folgar, Brannon Mason, Elliace Zargarpur

The Naive Backtrackers:

    Patrick Easter, Edward McEnrue, Reid Thomas

Our teams prepared in weekly practices and multiple 5-hour mock contests held on the weekends leading up to the regional contest.

The ACM Programming Team is open to all undergraduate students and to graduate students who have not completed more than 5 years of post-K12 education. See here for complete eligibility requirements.

Students interested in participating in the team should contact Team Coach Dr. Godmar Back (gback@vt.edu), or visit the team web page at https://icpc.cs.vt.edu/ 

All CS@VT teams pictured below:

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1st Virginia Tech High School Programming Contest

As part of our departmental outreach to the community, the ACM-ICPC Programming Team of the Virginia Tech, led by its coach Dr. Godmar Back, held the first Virginia Tech High School Programming Contest. The contest was held on Saturday, Dec 6, online.

24 teams from 7 high schools across the state competed for 5 hours to solve 10 challenging programming problems, posed in the style of the ACM-ICPC contest. The winning team from the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, TJHSST Freshmen, solved 9 out of 10 problems.


The top three teams were:

  1. Place: TJHSST Freshmen (Thomas Jefferson High School): Sujay Ratna, Shwetark Patel, William Li
  2. Place: Betaware 4 (Battlefield High School): Ethan Villagran, Ian Cabacungan, Nick Gill
  3. Place: CIT Team 1 (Deep Run High School): Roman Bohuk, Jake Smith, Seth Tenembaum

This contest was organized by Dr. Godmar Back (Contest Director and Head Judge), and volunteers from the Virginia Tech ACM ICPC Programming Team: Daniel Gil, Rupin Khera, Larissa Perara, Nick Sharp, Andriy Katkov, Harrison Fang. Problems were created by Dr. Back, Nick Sharp, Andriy Katkov, and Daniel Gil. Several high school teachers and parents functioned as on-site coaches.

For more information, including full final results and the problem set, see here.

Virginia Tech is planning to host this contest annually during the Fall semester. High School teachers and other interested parties who wish to be informed about future contests are invited to join the vthscontest Google group.

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CS@VT Diversity News


Dr. Barbara G. Ryder
J. Byron Maupin Professor of Engineering
Head – Department of Computer Science – Virginia Tech
Follow CS@VT on Facebook

I think it’s time for me to report about the push we have been making with regard to increasing the gender diversity of CS@VT. We have focused on increasing the percentage of women students as our initial goal.  To accomplish this we have joined with the National Council on Women in IT (NCWIT), which runs many programs to recruit and retain women in computing. There are three NCWIT activities in which we participate: Pacesetters, VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards and the NSF Engage project.

Pacesetters is envisioned as an academia/industry partnership to increase the number of net new women in computing studies and jobs. Our activities in Pacesetters have included encouraging students to take CS minors, taking CS@VT students to high schools to encourage girls to think about majoring in computing, presenting programs in COE summer programs/workshops to attract students to computing as a career, etc. After participating in Pacesetters since 2009, we have good news to report. Our CS major cohort is ~14% female, more than double the percentage in 2009! Moreover, as of 11/6/2014 we had 183 CS minors of whom 48 (26%) were female, a third more females than spring 2014! Our Association for Women in Computing (AWC) student organization continues to annually host local middle school girls for a fun day of computing activities at CS@VT. In spring 2014, the AWC attracted ~75 students from local middle schools.  At the AWC core are 30 active members, with a few hundred on the listserv who participate occasionally in events.

We (I and Libby Bradford) are chairing the VA/DC Aspirations in Computing Awards for the 2nd time since it was started in 2012. Our goal is to work with NCWIT to identify and recognize female students who are strongly interested in computing and to support that interest through recognition of their achievements, leadership and drive. Students who win these national or regional awards and study CS at Virginia Tech are awarded a modest scholarship annually as long as they remain in good academic standing. VT is the ONLY college/university in Virginia with an Aspirations scholarship program. We have several Aspirations winners at VT, with 3 currently in the CS major and 2 more intending to transfer into CS during 2015. There also are 3 entering freshmen Aspirations winners this year – 1 in business and 2 in engineering, hopefully planning on declaring the CS major. Note that our first Aspirations award winner is graduating in 2015 and already has a position at Microsoft in Redmond. We are thrilled to have these talented female CS students in our department.

The NSF Engage project is an effort to recruit and retain women into the CS or CE major in the College of Engineering, involving both departments and the CEED Center in the College. We hold many joint activities with female students from the CS and ECE departments, encouraging them to network and work together, building a critical mass for our female cohort.

The department also sponsors student attendees to both the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and to the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. We are academic Gold Sponsors of both these events. Our sponsorship gives us access to underrepresented minorities and women attendees who are looking for faculty positions — an asset to our faculty search committees and in diversifying our faculty, another departmental goal.   This year, we supported 12 female students to attend the Grace Hopper Celebration and 16 to attend a regional Grace Hopper Celebration in Richmond, VA.  We also supported 6 students (4 females) to attend the Tapia Celebration.

Another interesting statistic concerns CS@VT faculty involvement in diversity efforts throughout the year. The department Diversity Committee prepared a list of varied commitment activities for faculty to choose from; participation is be reported as service to the department, part of expected annual service. One activity might be working in the summer with an undergraduate student from an underrepresented group in computing; another might be attending a lunch with incoming COE freshman to talk to them about computer science or to do a 1 hour hands-on CS project to a COE CEED high school girls’ camp in the summer. I have been keeping track of the percentage of faculty participating in such diversity activities, and I am happy to report that ~75% of the faculty participated in such activities last year.

You may also be interested that we have exceeded the annual CRA Taulbee report means for the percentage of female Ph.D. graduates for 3 of the past 4 academic years!

Clearly, we have more work to do on diversity, but as a faculty, we have taken significant steps and should take pride in this accomplishment of building a more diverse CS student body.

Barbara Ryder, Dec 5, 2014

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Funding News: selections from Fall 2014

Dr. Lou
Dr. Lou

Dr. Wenjing Lou (CS) (http://www.cnsr.ictas.vt.edu/WJLou.htmland) and  Dr. Tom Hou (ECE) were awarded two new multi-institutional NSF research grants. The first, is entitled NSF CPS: Synergy: Collaborative Research: Cognitive Green Building: A Holistic Cyber-Physical Analytic Paradigm for Energy Sustainability. It aims to develop a unified analytical approach for green building design that comprehensively manages energy sustainability by taking into account the complex interactions between these systems of systems, providing a high degree of security, agility and robust to extreme events. This is a collaborative project between Profs. Ness Shroff and Qian Chen from Ohio State University, and Profs. Tom Hou (PI) and Wenjing Lou, from Virginia Tech.
The second award is entitled NSF CNS Collaborative Research: A Multi-Layer Approach Towards Reliable Cognitive Radio Networks.  The objective behind this project’s research activities is to develop technological solutions that ensure that cognitive radios operate in a trustworthy manner, in spite of potential security threats. It is a collaborative project between Profs. Wenjing Lou (PI) and Tom Hou from VT, and Profs. Wade Trappe and Yanyong Zhang from Rutgers University; with VT being the lead institution for this project.



CS@VT Affiliate Professor Nicholas Polys (http://cs.vt.edu/user/polys) and colleagues Drs. Michael Buehrer, Vuk Marojevic, and YalingYang, from ECE, received funding from the NSF DUE/IUSE program, for their proposal entitled Wireless Communication Test beds for Authentic STEM Learning.




Dr. Kirk Cameron
Dr. Kirk Cameron

Dr. Kirk Cameron (http://cs.vt.edu/user/cameron) and colleagues from the University of Houston, received NSF SHF funding for the proposal entitled Application-aware Energy Modeling and Power Management for Parallel and High Performance Computing.






Dr. North
Dr. North
Dr. Yong Cao
Dr. Yong Cao

Drs. Chris North (PI) (http://cs.vt.edu/user/north) and Yong Cao (http://cs.vt.edu/user/yongcao), and Department of Statistics Drs. Leanna House and Scotland Leman, received an NSF Big Data Award, entitled BIGDATA: F: DKA: Usable Big Data Analytics via Multi-Scale Visual to Parametric Interaction (MV2PI). Dr. North describes the research funded: “Gaining big insight from big data requires big analytics, which poses big usability problems.  In this proposal, human-computer-interaction research is merged with complex statistical methods and fast computation to make big data analytics usable and accessible to professional and student users. Multi-scale Visual-to-Parametric Interaction (MV2PI) enables analysts to simultaneously steer multiple algorithmic models across a continuum of data scales, from large data clouds to small working sets, by interacting directly with visualized data to adjust complex model parameters.”


Dr. Shaffer
Dr. Shaffer

Dr. Cliff Shaffer (http://cs.vt.edu/user/shaffer) and colleagues Dr. Susan Roger of Duke University and Dr. Tom Naps of University of Wisconsin-Oshcosh, received NSF IUSE funding. Dr. Shaffer is the PI for the VT-centered research on this grant. Dr. Shaffer says that the project “will study the efficacy of and disseminate a STEM learning environment named OpenDSA. OpenDSA is an open-source project with international collaboration. It has the potential to fundamentally change instruction in courses on Data Structures and Algorithms (DSA) and Formal Languages and Automata (FLA). ”





Dr. North
Dr. North

Dr. Chris North (http://cs.vt.edu/user/north) and Dr. Naren Ramakrishnan (http://cs.vt.edu/user/ramakrishnan) received funding from L-3 Communications for their proposal entitled: Discovering Coordinated Malicious Activity and Network Usage Patterns.  Quoting Dr. North: “In this project, we propose a visual analytics approach to cyber security network defense. We will adapt biclustering algorithms to detect coordinated malicious activities, and a method of chaining biclusters to uncover network usage patterns across large-scale cyber security datasets (e.g., network logs) by fusing multiple data domains.  We will create visualizations that enable human interaction with these algorithms and results to form characterizations of malicious behaviors.”




Dr. Tilevich
Dr. Tilevich
Dr. Feng
Dr. Feng

Drs. Wu Feng (http://cs.vt.edu/user/feng) and Eli Tilevich (http://cs.vt.edu/user/tilevich) received CRA-W funding for their proposal entitled Parallel Computing for Everyone. This funding is available to CS faculty to encourage female CS students to pursue research opportunities as part of their studies.  The researchers state that “This grant seeks to introduce explicit parallel computing abstractions into an educational programming language that is based on MIT’s Scratch visual programming langauge. This omission of explicit programming constructs is hard to rationalize given the ubiquity of multi- and many-core architectures. Enhancing Scratch with such parallel programming abstractions presents an unprecedented research and educational opportunity to mold the minds of the next generation of computer scientists to realize solutions that explicitly take advantage of parallel computing. Such abstractions (or components in Scratch terminology) include consumer-producer, pipes and filters, and process pool, just to name a few. These components will be realized to follow the Scratch design paradigm, where a component can be dragged onto the canvas and parameterized with the required values. The shape of a component determines to which other components it can be connected, thus providing the constraints whose satisfaction ensures that the resulting combination is semantically correct.”


Dr. Kafura
Dr. Kafura
Dr. Tilevich
Dr. Tilevich
Dr. Shaffer
Dr. Shaffer

Drs. Dennis Kafura (http://cs.vt.edu/user/kafura), Cliff Shaffer (http://cs.vt.edu/user/shaffer) , and Eli Tilevich (http://cs.vt.edu/user/tilevich) received NSF TUES EAGER funding for their proposal entitled: Scaffolding Big Data for Authentic Learning of Computing. In the word of Dr. Kafura the goal of this research is “to create curriculum and technologies that leverage Big Data with the proper scaffolding required to accommodate students with little or no programming background.”

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