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



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.


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.
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



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.


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.

Chris Landreth Lecture on January 27

Chris LandrethThe Department of Computer Science, Faculty of Arts & Science and Faculty of Medicine are pleased to announce and invite the U of T community to a special lecture by Chris Landreth, a Distinguished Research Artist. The lecture will take place on Wednesday, January 27 at the Bahen Centre for Information Technology, 40 St. George Street, Room 5166 4:15 to 5:15 PM, there will be a Q&A 5:15 – 6:30 PM. RSVP for the event at http://web.cs.toronto.edu/news/landrethlecture.htm.

Toronto ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter Event

Bill Polson will be speaking about design patterns in computer graphics at BA 1210 on October 22. The talk begins at 7pm, but doors will open at 6:45.


Bill is currently on leave from Pixar, working on a book on Pipeline Design Patterns, which should be out in mid-2016. At Pixar, Bill was the Director of Industry Strategy, where he was responsible for Pixar’s relationship to the graphics industry. In this role he has shaped the product roadmaps of major graphics software vendors. He is the originator of Pixar’s OpenSubdiv effort, which is redefining how the industry handles high order geometry. Bill has had a number of management roles at Pixar, including Lead of Production Engineering, and Supervising Technical Director of Short Films. Prior to that Bill was a TD and software developer. Bill is active in SIGGRAPH, where he originated the popular new program SIGGRAPH Dailies!


Pipeline Design Patterns


In his talk, Bill will use a simple example to illustrate the common problems of graphics pipelines: getting assets built (in lots of variations), getting them converted to optimized representations and aggregated into shots and levels, and generally carrying edits from modeling through to animation/gameplay and beyond to rendering/display. The talk will discuss the general shape of these problems and their solutions, and will propose some common vocabulary.

Hrvoje Benko to present at TUX

On October 13th, MaRS Discovery District will welcome Hrvoje Benko, who will be presenting at TUX. Lunch reception begins at 12:30pm in the Auditorium and the lecture at 1:00pm. Anyone interested in attending should RSVP via email with Grace Chen at gchen@dgp.toronto.edu.


Hrvoje Benko is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research. He explores novel interactive computing technologies and their impact on human-computer interaction. In particular, his research interests include augmented reality, touch and gesture-based interfaces, depth sensing, and display technologies. He helped found and lead the Microsoft Touch Mouse project and he has extensively collaborated with the Surface Computing group at Microsoft. He has been active in the human-computer interaction field, authoring more than 50 scientific papers and journal articles, as well as serving as the General Chair (2014) and the Program Chair (2012) of the ACM Conference on User Interface Systems and Technology (UIST). For his publications, he received several best paper awards at both ACM UIST and ACM SIGCHI. Before joining Microsoft, he obtained his PhD at Columbia University. More detail can be found on his website:http://research.microsoft.com/~benko/.

Rorik Henrikson’s work featured in UofT news

PhD Candidate and DGP member Rorik Henrikson was recently featured in the U of T news, exploring his research. Adopting his early interest in stage, film and television planning, he created Storeoboard – his stereoscopic 3D storyboard software. Storeoboard was recently used by Canadian director and filmmaker Dylan Pearce in the planning of 40 Below and Falling, the first stereoscopic 3D romantic comedy.

You can read more about it here.