Haijun Xia wins 2018 Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship

Since 2008, Microsoft has awarded research fellowships to support talented graduate students. This year, Haijun Xia was selected as one of the 2018 recipients! The fellowship will support his research in HCI and creating tools to enhance creativity.

For more information, you can read the announcement from Microsoft here . Details about applying to the 2019 fellowship are here.

Upcoming Tux Talk By Sara Diamond on 16th January, 2018

 

Sara Diamond:
Data Visualization – Fundamental 21st Century Knowledge

2018-01-16 12:30 at MaRS

 

Abstract

I side-stepped into data visualization two decades ago, as an artist trying to answer a series of related questions about IRC chat that had arisen for me as a user and through my dialogues with other users, “Why can’t IRC chat be more dynamic, less linear, relational? How can we manage flaming, lurking and other behaviors that discourage users? What strategies, like play, might resolve conflicts?” Over a number of years I led the creation of the CodeZebraOS which was a playful, non-linear visual chat environment that applied basic affective computing to text analytics. Now a decade later I lead the Visual Analytics Laboratory at OCAD University – a group of researchers who are committed to bringing together visualization design and data analytics.  Times have changed and with them the recognition that big data requires analytics tools to be usable. Visualization systems are built into many software packages and info graphics are everyday fare. The Visual Analytics Laboratory works in partnership with data owners and sources, some with their own analytics capacities, others who rely on the VAL to analyze as well as represent the data.  Over the course of the lecture I will present a glimpse of my early work and provide a history of VAL projects, addressing differing strategies for making meaning from data.  Projects include public displays of data, artistic data presentations, media analytics, urban planning, public data analytics, social media analytics, etc. Researchers in the VAL also raise questions about the use of data and the need for critical literacy regarding data sources and visualizations.

Bio

Dr. Sara Diamond is the President of OCAD University, Canada’s, “University of the Imagination”. She holds a PhD in Computing, Information Technology and Engineering, a Masters in Digital Media and Honours Bachelors of Arts in History and Communications. She is an appointee of the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Academy of Artists and a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada.  She is the winner of the 2013 GRAND NCE Digital Media Pioneer Award, recognized as one of Toronto Life’s Top Fifty and. she is a Senior Fellow at Massey College, University of Toronto. She was recently honored as one of Canada’s 150 leading women. Since her appointment in 2005 she has led OCAD University’s evolution to a full university, helping to build its transdisciplinary and research-creation research capacity and infrastructure, integrate STEM subjects, create its Digital Futures Initiative, launch the Indigenous Visual Culture Program, strengthen its approach to inclusion, and grow its undergraduate and graduate programs in studio art and design.  Diamond is a researcher in media arts history and policy, visual analytics and has created wearable technologies, mobile experiences and media art. Diamond was honoured with a 1992 retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada, represented Canada in festivals and biennials, and her works reside in collections such as the MoMA in New York City, National Gallery of Canada and Vancouver Art Gallery.

More information about the 2017/2018 Tux presentation series is available on the official Tux website

Upcoming Tux Talk By Christopher Collins on 5th Dec, 2017

Christopher Collins:
Finding What to Read: Visual Text Analytics Tools and Techniques to Guide Investigation

2017-12-05 12:30 at DGP: BCIT, 5th Floor

 

 

Abstract

Text is one of the most prominent forms of open data available, from social media to legal cases. Text visualizations are often critiqued for not being useful, for being unstructured and presenting data out of context (think: word clouds). I argue that we should not expect them to be a replacement for reading. In this talk I will briefly discuss the close/distant reading debate then focus on where I think text visualization can be useful: hypothesis generation and guiding investigation. Text visualization can help someone form questions about a large text collection, then drill down to investigate through targeted reading of the underlying source texts. Over the past 10 years my research focus has been primarily on creating techniques and systems for text analytics using visualization, across domains as diverse as legal studies, poetics, social media, and automotive safety. I will review several of my past projects with particular attention to the capabilities and limitations of the technologies and tools we used, how we use semantics to structure visualizations, and the importance of providing interactive links to the source materials. In addition, I will discuss the design challenges which, while common across visualization, are particularly important with text (legibility, label fitting, finding appropriate levels of ‘zoom’).

Bio

Dr. Christopher Collins is the Canada Research Chair in Linguistic Information Visualization and an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). His research focus is interdisciplinary, combining information visualization and human-computer interaction with natural language processing to address the challenges of information management and the problems of information overload. His work has been published in many venues including IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, and has been featured in popular media such as the Toronto Star and the New York Times Magazine. Dr. Collins is a past member of the executive of the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee and the IEEE VIS Conference Organizing Committee, and received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of Toronto.

 

Upcoming Tux Talk By Bill Buxton on 21st Nov, 2017

Bill Buxton:
Ubiety: On Design, Place and the Importance of Manners

2017-11-21 12:30 at MaRS

 

Abstract

It is a paradox that the better we get at producing useful, affordable, desirable, usable technologies, the more we are confronted by complexity and lack of overall satisfaction. This is partially, or even mainly, due to the demands for economies of scale. Hence, we are deluged by digital do-dads – apps, services and gadgets which on their own may be wonderful, but collectively create an overly complex ecosystem of baubles. What is missed is that the cumulative complexity of enough such baubles crosses the barrier, above which the ecosystem becomes inscrutable. Lying behind this is that things simply do not work together. In a world dominated by “social computing”, there are virtually no social relationships amongst the technologies themselves. Weiser’s label, Ubiquitous Computing, holds. But the result has little or anything to do with what he – or the rest of us on the team – envisioned or intended.

My argument is that he used the wrong word. Ubiquity, i.e, technology everywhere, all the time, etc. is no panacea. Rather, the word that fits far better is Ubiety – a closely related term, but one which has at its core the notion of place. Hence, it points towards the right technology at the right place – extended (in my usage, at least) to encompass place in the physical sense, but also time, social, cultural, temporal, absolute, relative, etc. Furthermore, if we layer the notion of mobility of human action on this framing, what emerges is an enhanced sense of the importance of transitions, and adaptation. This, by way of Piaget, leads us to perhaps a different way of thinking about intelligence – of human and machine – and how intelligent design may pave the way to wrestling the ever-growing complexity to the ground, thus enabling us, and our technologies, to meet our true and worthy potential.

Bio

Bill has been walking the path between where people and technology meet for over 40 years – as a designer, musician, lecturer, writer, teacher, critic and researcher. His focus has always been on the human, and his work reflects a particular interest in the creative disciplines. He believes that appropriate design is that which enhances human intelligence and creativity, not replaces it. As a practicing skeptimist, he is a devotee of Melvin Kranzberg’s first law: “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.” His corollary to this is, “Without informed design, it is more likely to lean to the bad than the good.” It is towards becoming thus informed, and enlisting others to do so as well, that both his work, and this talk, are directed.

RBC Research Prize 2017: UofT Faculty and Student Winners

 

RBC and the University of Toronto recently partnered up to create the RBC Innovation Fellowship program, a joint venture designed to recognize exceptional faculty and graduate students and to provide them with additional resources to advance their research.

The RBC Research Prize 2017 winners come from a variety of disciplines, including Machine Learning and Advanced Data Analytics, Cybersecurity, and User Experience Design/Design Thinking/Human-Machine Interfaces.
 
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This year’s RBC Fellowship Winner is DGP’s own Varun Perumal, a Human-Computer interaction researcher and bonafide hardware engineering fanatic, whose Printem film makes it possible for anyone with a home printer to produce their own electronic circuit boards.
 
Varun gave RBC a brief overview of his winning proposal in an interview: 

“My research is primarily about creating novel fabrication techniques – the process of making physical things – that will change the future of how we manufacture. Just as 3D printing has made advances in decentralizing and speeding up the production of mechanical products, we’re trying to do something similar for electronics, mainly the components that go into your devices.”

 

 

 

This year’s RBC Research Prize Winners are Gerald Penn and Cosmin Munteanu

The faculty members also gave a brief overview of their winning proposal: 

“One of the interesting challenges we’re facing is that everyone’s jumping on the AI bandwagon, but we don’t have a very good human interface for it yet. In the finance world, for example, high-level financial analysts – these are people who do long-term planning for large investment firms or banks – still use pen and paper. It’s shock from a tech perspective. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, but they’re not benefitting from all these machine learning and NLP advances. The essence of our proposal is to make sure these people can benefit from the technology and to address the problem that the software currently available to support these tasks isn’t designed well for their purposes.”

 

Full interviews and more details about the winning proposals are available on the RBC Institute for Research website

 

 

 

Upcoming Tux Talk By Anind Dey on 7th Nov, 2017

Anind Dey:
Routines and Behaviors: Leveraging everyday routines to enhance interactive systems

2017-11-07 12:30 at MaRS

 

Abstract

Commodity smart phones and initial Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices have made the visions of ubiquitous computing common place. However, despite the rapid adoption of this technology, we have not progressed much past the use of location-based systems in commercial ubicomp systems. The Ubicomp Lab at Carnegie Mellon University has been using people’s interactions with such devices to better understand human behavior and routines. In this talk, I will describe the value of leveraging human behaviors and routines in interactive mobile and IoT-based systems. I will demonstrate how the ability to opportunistically extract these routines (and anomalies) can dramatically enhance interactive systems in a number of domains, including healthcare, driving, education, and sustainability, as they can be used to create effective interventions and supporting systems.
 

Bio

Anind K. Dey is the Charles M. Geschke Professor and Director of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He is also the director of the Ubicomp Lab, which performs research at the intersection of ubiquitous computing, human-computer interaction and machine learning, in the areas of mobile computing, health and sustainability among others. He has authored over 100 papers on these
topics and serves on the editorial board of several journals. In 2015, Anind was inducted into the ACM SIGCHI Academy for his work on context-aware and adaptive systems. Anind received his PhD in computer science from Georgia Tech, along with a Masters of Science in both Computer Science and Aerospace Engineering. He received his Bachelors of Applied Science in Computer Engineering from Simon Fraser University.

 

More information about the 2017/2018 Tux presentation series is available on the official Tux website

New Faculty for the 2017/2018 Academic Year

Faculty Appointments 2017/2018

“We’re thrilled to welcome the next wave of U of T computer science faculty, many of whom are jointly appointed with cognate departments, enabling us to significantly expand computer science’s collaborations with multiple disciplines across campus.”

– Ravin Balakrishnan, Professor & Chair

Michelle Annett presented with the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science-NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship Supplement Award

2016-01-19 20.07.50

On January 19th, 2016, Michelle Annett was presented with the L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science-NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship Supplement Award. UNESCO and L’Oreal invited the top 3% of female post-docs that have received an NSERC PDF Award to apply for this award, and from those applicants Michelle was selected as the single winner.

The award was presented to her personally by Mario Pinto, president of NSERC. The Canadian minister of science, Kirsty Duncan, also read over Michelle’s biography and offered her congratulations. The event took place at the French embassy in Ottawa. Both before and after the award ceremony, Michelle had the opportunity to talk with many members of the embassy, NSERC, and other high-level academics across Canada (e.g., the presidents of the University of Ottawa, the University of Calgary). There were nearly 200 attendees, whom she had a chance to speak with about her research, Autodesk Research, U of T, U of A, and the importance of computer science in general.

This was not only a great experience for Michelle, but it let her shed a positive light on Autodesk, U of T, U of A, and HCI research at a national and international level.