Summer Research Awards

Publish Date: 08/21/2012

Congratulations to CS Faculty who were awarded research funding in the summer of 2012 from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Dr. Chris North, associate professor of computer science, received a grant from NSF for his project "Semantic Interaction for Visual Text Analytics." A brief description of the project: The goal of this project is to enable the creation of new human-centered computing tools that will help people effectively analyze large collections of textual documents by providing powerful statistical analysis functionality in a usable and intuitive form. To accomplish that, this project investigates “semantic interaction” in visual analytics as a method to combine the large-data computationally-intensive foraging abilities of formal statistical mining algorithms with the intuitive cognitively-intensive sensemaking abilities of human analysts. Semantic interaction enables users to inject their domain expertise into the algorithms by interacting directly with the data. For example, analysts synthesize hypotheses about a set of documents by simply re-organizing them within a spatial visualization, highlighting important sentences, or annotating in the margins. Meanwhile, the underlying statistical models learn from these actions and interactively respond to help spatially organize additional relevant information according to the user’s feedback.

Intellectual merit: Semantic interaction offers a new approach to interactive visual analytics that emphasizes usability. This research will (1) contribute new user interaction and visual feedback techniques for naturally controlling algorithms via the interactive sensemaking process; (2) contribute a flexible visual analytics framework that seamlessly integrates mathematical models with interactive visualization; and (3) evaluate the effectiveness of semantic interaction, which provides a quantitative mechanism to investigate the complex interplay between human intuition and formal statistical methods.

Dr. Wenjing Lou and co-PI Dr. Tom Hou recently received a grant from the NSF-CSR for their work entitled "Towards User Privacy in Outsourced Cloud Data Services."  Dr. Lou describes the project: "The emergence of cloud computing brings a paradigm shift to the way that data is stored, accessed and utilized. Especially, outsourcing data to the public cloud enjoys unlimited resources with great economic savings for both data owners and users. However, user privacy concerns have been a major hurdle for the widespread adoption of the public cloud technology. Encryption techniques can protect the confidentiality of users' data, however, supporting effective data utilization such as search operations over encrypted data become a key challenge. Existing techniques are either too computationally expensive, or lack enough flexibility to be adopted by cloud users in practice.

This project aims at protecting user privacy in the cloud. It develops the tools to provide privacy-assured, usable, and efficient data utilization services in outsourced cloud storage systems. Specifically, it tackles the above challenges by combining cryptography with information-retrieval techniques, and focuses on three aspects: (1) the design of novel keyword search schemes over encrypted data with rich functionalities, including ranked search and multi-keyword search; (2) the design of privacy-preserving search schemes over data that are represented using various structures, such as graphs; (3) new approaches for protecting user privacy in the mobile cloud setting. This research also includes a prototyping and experimentation plan.

Ensuring user privacy is fundamental to the success of public cloud deployment. This project also develops curricula and teaches and supervises students. Materials of this project will be made available online as tutorials, software packages, and publications of general interest."

Dr. Eli Tilevich, associate professor of computer science, and Dr. Cliff Shaffer, professor of computer science, were awarded a grant from NSF-TUES.  The grant "will expand the successful bus tracker API developed by Eli and his capstone students and extended 'to support computer programming projects that use real-time Web-based data to better engage and better train introductory computer science students. Examples of real-time data accessible over the Web include stock values, traffic information, weather, public transit, flight information, inventory overviews, and many others. The infrastructure ensures the requisite data availability, integrity, and accessibility, as well as automates grading techniques.'"

According to Drs. Tilevich and Shaffer, "this work may make our intro courses more relevant to students, and hopefully garner more CS majros for our dept. 'The new programming projects also provide an opportunity to introduce students earlier to advanced concepts such as distributed computing and cyber-physical systems, thereby better preparing them to meet the emerging challenges of the IT workplace.'"